Analysis – Examining the Record: Is Alabama Governor Bentley a “Jobs Creator” or a Drag on the State Economy?
Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, April 12, 2014
When campaigning for the office of Alabama’s Governor, Robert Bentley – a retired dermatologist physician who at the time was an elected representative from Tuscaloosa County – promised if elected governor that, “I will forgo a salary as state representative for the rest of my term and will not accept a salary as Governor until Alabama reaches full employment.”
When pressed on the matter, he later defined “full employment” as having state unemployment somewhere around 5%. It is a promise to which, as of the date of this entry – 12 April 2014 – he has kept. In other words, Alabama has NOT reached “full employment,” and he has not been paid a salary. He has, however, been compensated for out-of-pocket expenses (the governor’s office has a budget, so why would he personally have any such expenses for work in an official capacity?), though he has received – as legislator, a legally-mandated $1.00 per month salary. Since his election to the governorship, he has not received a salary.
Let’s examine Governor Bentley‘s employment record.
During Governor Robert Bentley’s watch, International Paper – the large paper mill formerly known as Champion Paper, in Courtland, and the largest employer in Lawrence County – closed and cost the area economy & state 1100 jobs. Those jobs were high-paying, with excellent benefits and retirement accounts. Those affected were not just employees, but loggers, private timber owners, area schools, public services, and more. Almost half of the annual budget for the small town of Courtland comes from bond payments from International Paper. The budget for Lawrence County could lose $1.7 Million annual payment in lieu of taxes, the county’s General Fund could lose $400,000 and the school system nearly $900,000 annually. The issued bonds were purchased in large part by Champion, and International Paper, which purchased Champion, is responsible for the bonds, according to David Ringelstein, of Balch & Bingham attorney group in Birmingham.
Recently, Hillshire Brands, parent firm of Sara Lee, Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farm, Ball Park, and others, announced recently that by year’s end (2014) they would be closing their Florence operations at a loss of 1100 jobs to the tri-county area (Lauderdale, Colbert, Franklin). That long-time business was also renown for their good-paying jobs with accompanying benefits. Those whose livelihoods were affected include area industrial suppliers, contract trucking operators, Florence City Schools, Lauderdale County, et al.
Three of the state’s well-known newspapers – Huntsville Times, Birmingham News and Mobile Press-Register – all owned by Newhouse News/Advance Publications (parent firm of Sports Illustrated, Condé Nast, Vogue, Vanity Fair, reddit.com, American City Business Journals, etc.), in a “realignment” effort, practically ceased operations, fired numerous staff – a total loss of 400 staff jobs statewide – and reduced print publication to three days per week. Those whose jobs were affected were not just AL.com employees, but suppliers, paper carriers, truck drivers and many, many more.
Pilgrim’s Pride, a chicken processing plant in Boaz (Marshall County) has been a major employer for that Northeast Alabama area. They announced in November 2013 that they would be closing their doors of operation January 2014 and laying off their entire workforce of 1200.
1100 + 1100 + 400 + 1200 = 3800
Those four are perhaps among the most well-known, but there are others.
Let’s turn to an official source for the record.
The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Development – ADECA – and their Workforce Development Division, which is charged with keeping such records.
NOTE: The total in the official chart below is 19,390 – Jobs Affected during Governor Bentley’s term. However, it is by no means exhaustive.
Average number of employees affected per event = 171.59.
TOTAL = 19,390.
To date, there have been at least 113 businesses in Alabama with Layoffs or Closings since Governor Bentley was sworn into office on January 17, 2011.
(It wouldn’t be fair to only mention job losses, so additional details on jobs that Governor Bentley has brought to Alabama follow the official chart below.)
|Closing or Layoff||Initial Report Date||Planned Starting Date||Company||City||Planned # Affected Employees|
|Layoff *||4/2/2014||6/8/2014||Wayne Farms, LLC||Dothan||560|
|Layoff *||3/17/2014||5/4/2014||Tyonek Services Group, Inc.||Madison||161|
|Closing *||11/26/2013||1/24/2014||Pilgrim’s Pride||Boaz||1154|
|Layoff *||10/22/2013||12/6/2013||Alabama Pain Center||Huntsville||80|
|Closing *||10/1/2013||12/18/2013||JC’s 5 Star Outlet||Decatur||41|
|Closing *||9/17/2013||11/11/2013||Twin Pines, LLC||Jasper||60|
|Layoff *||9/17/2013||11/11/2013||Rock Mountain Mining, LLC||Birmingham||53|
|Closing *||9/11/2013||12/4/2013||International Paper-Courtland Mill||Courtland||1100|
|Closing *||8/23/2013||10/20/2013||Wells Fargo||Homewood||374|
|Closing *||8/20/2013||10/6/2013||Belle Foods-Store 51 (Hoover)||Hoover||60|
|Closing *||8/20/2013||10/6/2013||Belle Foods-Store 84 (Tuscaloosa)||Tuscaloosa||50|
|Closing *||8/20/2013||10/6/2013||Belle Foods-Store 310 (Mobile)||Mobile||59|
|Closing *||7/31/2013||9/29/2013||Preferred Health Holdings (@Ridgewood Health Care)||Jasper||141|
|Closing *||7/22/2013||10/4/2013||Benteler Automotive||Opelika||115|
|Layoff *||7/9/2013||9/9/2013||Drummond Co., Inc. Shoal Creek Mine||Oakman||425|
|Closing *||7/1/2013||8/28/2013||Birmingham Logistics (Belle Foods)||Birmingham||203|
|Layoff *||6/28/2013||7/7/2013||Birmingham Logistics (Rouse’s Enterprises)||Birmingham||182|
|Closing *||6/19/2013||7/22/2013||Sodexo (campus of Oakwood University)||Huntsville||75|
|Closing *||6/17/2013||7/11/2013||Bechtel Power Corporation||Hollywood||83|
|Closing *||6/14/2013||10/1/2013||Cooper Lighting||Eufaula||285|
|Closing *||6/4/2013||7/29/2013||Russell Brands, Inc., Coosa River Distribution||Wetumpka||191|
|Closing *||5/17/2013||7/12/2013||Tuscaloosa Resources Inc., Swann’s Crossing Mine||Brookwood||67|
|Closing *||5/9/2013||7/8/2013||Standard Furniture||Frisco City||157|
|Closing *||5/1/2013||4/30/2013||American Apparel-Oneonta||Oneonta||200|
|Layoff *||4/29/2013||5/15/2013||Sodexo (campus of Univ. of Montevallo)||Montevallo||51|
|Layoff *||4/16/2013||6/11/2013||Millard Refrigerated Services||Theodore||100|
|Layoff *||4/8/2013||5/31/2013||West Asset Management||Mobile||140|
|Closing *||4/2/2013||3/15/2013||American Apparel-Opp||Opp||200|
|Closing *||3/21/2013||5/19/2013||Fairfield Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, LLC||Fairfield||201|
|Closing *||3/15/2013||3/15/2013||North River Mine (Jim Walter Resources)||Brookwood||176|
|Layoff *||3/15/2013||5/15/2013||AT&T Alabama||Birmingham||67|
|Closing *||3/11/2013||5/7/2013||Shiloh Industries, Anniston Mfg. Plant||Anniston||68|
|Layoff *||3/1/2013||5/3/2013||Vantage Sourcing Inc.||Taylor||215|
|Closing *||2/26/2013||2/19/2013||KC Economic Development, LLC||Shorter||207|
|Closing *||1/30/2013||4/2/2013||Eaton Corp||Decatur||63|
|Closing *||1/15/2013||3/10/2015||Kmart Corporation||Anniston||52|
|Closing *||1/7/2013||3/5/2013||Russell Brands, LLC-Decoration Operations||Alexander City||390|
|Closing *||1/3/2013||3/2/2013||Grede Castings, LLC., Inc.||Marion||105|
|Layoff *||11/26/2012||1/21/2013||Rock Mountain Mining , LLC||Bessemer||187|
|Layoff *||11/8/2012||1/6/2013||General Dynamics-Land Systems||Anniston||252|
|Layoff *||11/7/2012||11/7/2012||Insight Card Services, LLC||Birmingham||71|
|Closing *||11/5/2012||11/6/2012||Heartland Catfish||Greensboro||150|
|Layoff *||11/1/2012||12/31/2012||DRS Test & Energy Management, LLC||Huntsville||84|
|Closing *||11/1/2012||12/31/2012||CMI Door Division/JELD-WEN||Ozark||70|
|Layoff *||9/25/2012||10/8/2012||American Apparel Inc.||Selma||250|
|Closing *||8/31/2012||10/27/2012||American Power Source||Fayette||119|
|Closing *||7/10/2012||9/7/2012||Big Springs, Inc.||Huntsville||87|
|Layoff *||6/20/2012||8/17/2012||The Huntsville Times||Huntsville||103|
|Layoff *||6/20/2012||8/17/2012||Mobile Press Register||Mobile||181|
|Layoff *||6/20/2012||9/30/2012||The Birmingham News||Birmingham||109|
|Layoff *||6/11/2012||7/31/2012||Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC)||Anniston||134|
|Closing *||5/30/2012||6/4/2012||RG Steel, LLC||Fort Payne||15|
|Layoff *||5/25/2012||6/30/2012||G4S Government Solutions Inc.||Anniston||57|
|Closing *||5/7/2012||7/6/2012||Hostess Brands, Inc.||Chickasaw||18|
|Closing *||5/7/2012||7/6/2012||Hostess Brands, Inc.||Birmingham||63|
|Closing *||5/7/2012||7/6/2012||Hostess Brands, Inc.||Statewide||172|
|Closing *||4/24/2012||6/25/2012||AAR Mobility Systems (formerly Summa Technology)||Cullman||181|
|Closing *||4/23/2012||6/29/2012||Johnson Controls||Cottondale||103|
|Closing *||4/16/2012||4/18/2012||Connexion Technologies||Gulf Shores||38|
|Layoff *||3/23/2012||5/21/2012||Earthgrains Bakery Co., Mobile||Mobile||115|
|Closing *||3/21/2012||5/21/2012||Earthgrains Baking Co., Dothan||Dothan||124|
|Layoff *||2/22/2012||4/20/2012||MBM Foodservice||Montgomery||78|
|Closing *||1/25/2012||4/3/2012||Golden Living, or Southern Billing Office||Birmingham||38|
|Closing *||1/20/2012||3/1/2012||Leggett & Platt Inc. (aka Garcy Corp.)||Piedmont||117|
|Closing *||1/10/2012||2/1/2012||Hartselle Medical Center||Hartselle||184|
|Layoff *||1/10/2012||2/1/2012||Anniston Army Depot||Anniston||975|
|Layoff *||1/9/2012||3/9/2012||American Apparel||Fort Deposit||181|
|Closing *||12/6/2011||1/31/2012||Birmingham Southern Railroad Company||Fairfield||181|
|Layoff *||12/5/2011||1/31/2012||The Boeing Company||Huntsville||164|
|Layoff *||11/16/2011||1/16/2012||Wayne Farms LLC||Decatur||363|
|Layoff *||10/31/2011||12/30/2011||BAE Systems, USCS-Anniston/2||Anniston||155|
|Closing *||10/17/2011||12/14/2011||Radicispandex Corporation||Tuscaloosa||89|
|Layoff *||8/11/2011||10/1/2011||ERC, Inc.||Huntsville||210|
|Layoff *||8/11/2011||10/1/2011||InfoPro Corporation||Huntsville||210|
|Layoff *||8/1/2011||10/1/2011||Jacobs ESTS Group||Huntsville||281|
|Closing *||7/20/2011||11/18/2011||Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc.||Huntsville||67|
|*||7/20/2011||9/15/2011||Northrup Grumman-Maxwell/Gunter Annex||Montgomery||51|
|Closing *||6/27/2011||7/31/2011||AC Fabricated Products-Grove Hill||Grove Hill||70|
|Closing *||6/13/2011||6/14/2011||Knauf Insulation||Lanett||146|
|Closing *||6/9/2011||7/30/2011||RockTenn (formerly Smurfit Stone)||Birmingham||77|
|Layoff *||5/27/2011||8/31/2011||Flextronics Americas LLC||Statewide||26|
|Layoff *||5/16/2011||7/13/2011||Recticel Interiors N.A., LLC||Tuscaloosa||40|
|Layoff *||5/13/2011||7/1/2011||Johnson Controls, Inc.||Cottondale||42|
|Closing *||5/12/2011||7/1/2011||K and K Food Services||Huntsville||63|
|Layoff *||5/11/2011||7/22/2011||United Space Alliance (USA)||Huntsville||45|
|Closing *||5/9/2011||5/9/2011||Team One Contract Services||Prattville||71|
|Closing *||5/3/2011||3/27/2012||PEMCO World Air Services||Dothan||319|
|Closing *||5/3/2011||4/27/2011||Sanderson Plumbing Products||Butler||50|
|Layoff *||4/27/2011||7/4/2011||Inteva Products||Gadsden||72|
|Closing *||4/7/2011||8/5/2011||Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation||Huntsville||100|
|Layoff *||3/16/2011||7/1/2011||URS (Westinghouse)||Anniston||840|
|Closing *||3/16/2011||6/2/2011||Dillard’s, Inc.||Decatur||71|
|Closing *||2/17/2011||4/15/2011||Alabama Aircraft Industries, Inc.||Birmingham||321|
|Layoff *||2/15/2011||3/4/2011||Heartland Alabama, LLC||Greensboro||200|
|Layoff *||2/14/2011||4/14/2011||Abitibi Bowater||Coosa Pine||150|
|Closing *||2/7/2011||10/2/2011||Beaulieu Group LLC||Eufaula||392|
|Closing *||2/1/2011||9/5/2011||WestPoint Home Inc.||Greenville||183|
|Closing *||2/1/2011||2/20/2011||Gildan||Fort Payne||279|
|Closing *||1/31/2011||4/1/2011||Chugach World Services, Inc.||Redstone Arsenal||45|
|Layoff *||1/31/2011||3/31/2011||Northrop Grumman||Redstone Arsenal||97|
|Closing *||1/28/2011||2/4/2011||Genesee TriStarr Inc.||Rogersville||69|
|Closing *||1/27/2011||4/1/2011||Chugach World Services, Inc.||Redstone Arsenal||317|
|Closing *||1/26/2011||4/4/2011||ABB, Inc.||Muscle Shoals||159|
|Closing *||12/10/2010||2/1/2011||Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC)||Huntsville||202|
|Closing *||11/22/2010||1/18/2011||Micolas Mills (Johnston Textiles-2)||Opp||135|
|Layoff *||11/8/2010||1/6/2011||Mid-South Electronics, Inc.||Gadsden||50|
To his credit, Governor Bentley has influenced the following jobs to come to Alabama.
Cooperage (barrel-making) operations for Brown-Forman, parent firm of Jack Daniel’s Whiskey, in Stevenson (in Northeastern Alabama) & Trinity (near Decatur).
The Stevenson operations “currently employs 29 people and also does business with approximately 40 different area loggers. Plus, Russell said, the company conducts extensive business with the local community.”
“Brown-Forman and Jack Daniel’s officials joined with Alabama Governor Robert Bentley in Montgomery, AL, to make the formal announcement today. The Jack Daniel Cooperage is expected to be operational in May 2014, and it will eventually employ approximately 200 workers.”
“The facility at the Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile will be used to assemble the industry-leading family of A319, A320, and A321 aircraft. The entire project represents a $600 million total investment and is expected to create up to 1,000 jobs within the production facility when it reaches full capacity. In addition, the construction phase of the project is expected to create nearly 3,200 construction-related jobs over a three-year period. Construction of the new facility is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2013. Aircraft assembly is projected to begin in 2015. By the year 2017, the facility is expected to produce between 40 and 50 aircraft per year.”
“Toulouse, France-based Airbus is investing $600 million in the Mobile Aeroplex production center, where it will employ 1,000 workers. The Alabama Department of Commerce and Mobile area economic developers are working to attract suppliers and service providers to the facility.”
Ed. note: Airbus “full capacity” is expected to be reached in 2017. The 3200 construction jobs (over a three-year period) will have been long gone, which will then give way to 2000 jobs – a net loss of 1200 jobs.
“Remington Outdoor Company (ROC) will expand to the old Chrysler building in Huntsville, and create more than 2,000 new jobs within the next ten years. Governor Bentley joined Remington Chairman and CEO George Kollitides and other state and local leaders for the official announcement.”
Ed. note: Remington anticipates 2000 jobs / 10 years = 200 jobs/year (.5479 jobs, or 1/2 job per day each year) – Since the announcement, there has been no hiring. Some folks can’t wait ten years for a good job.
“In the same year (2011), an additional 313 manufacturers, already in the state, announced expansion plans that would create another 12,369 new jobs and pour $2.5 billion in capital investment.”
Ed note: While it seems plausible, and one would want to believe it, there is little, if any, officially substantiated record of such a claim. Further, the state’s Unemployment Record does not bear out such a claim, facts & figures are noticeably absent, thus making any such assertion specious. Regarding documentation of jobs created, Alabama has an abysmal historical track record on such data collection & record-keeping, among other areas, and further, has no state agency to collect, maintain or analyze such data.
Reports by the Alabama Department of Labor on Historical Civilian Labor Force Data statewide %age Unemployment Rate (seasonally adjusted, unadjusted rates are higher) monthly rates for the years 2011, 2012, and 2013 are as follows:
Ed. note: Each %age point represents approximately (at least) 21,000 people.
2011 – in %
J-8.9 F-8.9 M-8.9 / A-8.8 M-8.8 J-8.8 / J-8.7 A-8.6 S-8.3 / O-8.0 N-7.6 D-7.3
2012 – in %
J-7.1 F-7.0 M-7.0 / A-7.1 M-7.3 J-7.4 / J-7.4 A-7.3 S-7.1 / O-7.0 N-6.8 D-6.8
2013 – in %
J-6.7 F-6.6 M-6.6 / A-6.5 M-6.4 J-6.5 / J-6.5 A-6.5 S-6.4 / O-6.3 N-6.2 D-6.1
According to the Alabama Department of Labor in Alabama Labor Market News, as of February 2014, Alabama Unemployment stands at 6.4%, which remains above the rate cited as “full employment” by then-candidate Bentley when he was campaigning for the governor’s office. The national unemployment rate is 6.7%.
There is, perhaps, a solitary bright spot in an otherwise bleak jobs & economic picture, and it is of Alabama’s burgeoning beer brewing industry. Alabama was the last state in the union for which the legislature crafted, and Governor Bentley signed, significant changes to prohibitive & restrictive laws on home brewing, which hobby has often become entrepreneurial opportunities. In their 2013 Annual Report, the Alabama Brewer’s Guild reported that direct employment in licensed craft brewing operations increased from 8 in 2010, to 121 in 2013. And the ABG’s own economic research found that indirect employment in Alabama’s growing craft brewing industry indicated 2,466 jobs were created in the wider industry. Still, legislative hurdles that stifle innovation and growth remain significant hindrances to economic opportunity and expansion – particularly limited are brewpub operations.
Under Governor Bentley, the promise of jobs and economic recovery has been precisely that – a promise. If anything, the decline in Alabama’s Unemployment Rate has been the result of a national trickle-down economy – here a drip, there a drop and a dribble. It has not been from anything the governor or legislature did. And the only bailout was for Wall Street and Big Business. There was no bailout for Average Joe and his family. Consequently, there have neither been any sudden, substantial reversal in the fortunes for Alabamians statewide during Robert Bentley’s governorship, and the few jobs the governor has brought have been low-paying, low-education, low quality jobs. By their own admission, some factories that will be built in Alabama are at least three years to a decade away from being fully staffed. Alabamians can’t wait 10 years for jobs.
Alabama continues to scrape the bottom of the barrel when it comes to placing importance upon education, and ensuring that all children statewide have an equal opportunity to excel. Meanwhile, in addition to opposing higher standards for K-12 schools which the GOP-dominated state legislature has already termed “failing,” the state’s GOP-led legislators continues to tilt at the proverbial windmills of illegal immigration, in the false belief that the state is run amok with job-stealing “wetbacks,” who again, the GOP-dominated state leadership would deny opportunity of starting their own businesses by denying them business licenses through HB56 and other now-largely-rendered-moot laws. Thus, the state leadership has shot themselves in the foot again. They waste Alabama tax-payers’ time, and do little or nothing to earn their keep.
Alabama’s legislators – Republican AND Democrat – must wise up, and change the state’s topsy-turvy regressive income tax system which taxes the poor at a higher rate than the wealthy (it is highly documented as THE MOST regressive tax system in the nation), and provides uncompensated tax giveaways for Multi-National Corporations (in essence, a taxpayer-funded lottery for corporate bigwigs in which the taxpayer cannot participate).
State government is largely reactive, rather than proactive when trouble troubles Alabama residents. Alabama must secure a vision for itself, not merely for a select, private country club few, and not merely for the next three years – coincidental with the election cycle.
Expansion of the state’s physical infrastructure – roadways, waterways, electrical power grid, airports and healthcare – would provide jobs in the private sector (requiring raw materials and manpower), and immediately stimulate local and area economies, and increase economic opportunity for generations to come. One critically important factor in that equation is Internet access. For years, the state has provided itself and it’s agencies with High-Speed Internet access by and through the Alabama Super Computer Center. However, when the legislature wrote the law creating and funding the center – which leases time on the SGI UV, SGI Altix and DMC computers to external organizations, and shares time with state agencies – by law, it cannot provide (sell) access to residences. Businesses can and do lease time, but the ASC is prohibited from providing Internet access to the “unwashed masses,” aka the populous. If the state were to lay a network of fiber optic cable connecting the 11 metropolitan areas statewide – including the University of West Alabama in Livingston – and provide Internet access/service to the residents, it could provide substantial opportunities for practically every resident statewide, including entrepreneurial, educational and economic. As well, it would increase revenue for the state, and draw many other businesses simply because of the network. It would, quite literally, catapult the state from a backwards-looking historical has-been, to a laser’s cutting edge visionary state with immediate significant potential.
While it doesn’t have an entirely ironclad immunity, healthcare is about as recession-proof an industry as there is. Thus far however, even though Alabama continues to be an historically poverty-stricken, and poorly-educated state, Governor Bentley has also steadfastly refused to expand Medicaid, which, according to researchers at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, would provide opportunity for, and expand the healthcare sector of the state’s economy, through healthcare support and professions. While damning the Affordable Care Act, the governor, however, has done nothing to increase the enrollment of Nurses, Physicians or other healthcare professionals in state schools, nor has he done anything to bring more healthcare professionals to the people, or to lower costs. Of course, sick people can’t work, and if they can’t work, they can’t feed their families, pay the rent, mortgage, or utilities. The rational thing to do would be to take care of your people. Our nation’s military learned that lesson long ago. Sick soldiers can’t fight, and when their families are sick, it’s a distraction to the service member as well. So, they take care of the family, too.
The sad irony of it all is that Governor Bentley, while simultaneously decrying federal assistance on one hand, greedily gobbles it up out of the other. Where I come from, that’s called “hypocrisy,” and it’s unmistakable stench can be smelled cooking hundreds of miles away.