Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Perspective – By the Numbers: How has Job Loss under Governor Bentley & the GOP affected Alabama?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, April 14, 2014

It’s easy to talk about “the jobs situation” in Alabama. It’s especially easier to talk about it when it doesn’t affect you… directly. It’s like armchair quarterbacking.

There’s probably much truth to the statement that Alabama’s legislators aren’t directly affected by job loss in the state. They have jobs. As musician Steve Miller sang in his song “Take the Money and Run,” they make their “living off other people’s taxes.” That goes for Republicans AND Democrats. Such an observation, of course, is not to demean those who do “make their living off other people’s taxes,” because our military, public safety and others vital to our local, state and national well-being are among them. It is however, an acknowledgment of, and call to responsibility – not merely accountability – because accountability is the only remnant once responsibility has departed. And that is how the “Blame Game” is played.

In the previous entry entitled “Analysis – Examining the Record: Is Alabama Governor Bentley a “Jobs Creator” or a Drag on the State Economy?,” we looked at facts & figures about job loss & job creation during Governor Bentley’s administration.

In this entry, we examine some details on the extent of the damage done to families & individuals under his administration.

And so, let’s again refer to some previously-mentioned facts & figures, and introduce some new ones so that we can better understand the nature, scope and and extent of the situation, and corresponding problems

Governor Bentley was elected Governor of Alabama in the November 2010 General Election, and was sworn in on January 17, 2011. Since his election, Alabama has lost at least 19,390 jobs.
ref: http://adeca.alabama.gov:42042/wdd/warn.aspx

According to the United States Census, Alabama’s 2010 population was 4,779,758. The 2013 estimate is 4,833,722, which represents an increase of 53,964, or slightly less than 1.25%.
ref: http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/01000.html

There are 460 incorporated cities and towns in Alabama, with a total population of 2,888,772, and an average population of 6,280. Approximately half of the state’s residents live outside incorporated areas – that is, in unincorporated rural areas.
ref: http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=DEC_10_PL_GCTPL2.ST13&prodType=table

Of the state’s 460 incorporated cities and towns, 437 (95%) have populations under 22,000, with an average population of 3022. Their total population is 1,320,983. Very nearly half of all Alabama residents who live in incorporated cities and towns, live in cities and towns which have less than 22,000 people. They represent slightly over 25% of the state’s total population.

Here are a few familiar names of Alabama’s incorporated cities and towns with populations under 22,000 (in descending order): Athens, Pelham, Oxford, Albertville, Selma, Mountain Brook, Trussville, Troy, Center Point, Helena, Hueytown, Talladega, Fairhop, Ozark, Alexander City, Cullman, Scottsboro, Millbrook, Foley, Jasper, Hartselle, Fort Payne, Gardendale, Saraland, Muscle Shoals, Eufaula, Sylacauga, Pell City, Jacksonville, Irondale, Leeds, Moody, Calera, Fairfield, Atmore, Chelsea, Pleasant Grove, Tuskegee, Russellville, Gulf Shores, Clay, Rainbow City, Boaz, Valley, Sheffield, Andalusia, Clanton, Tuscumbia, Southside, Fultondale, Guntersville, Greenville, Arab, Bay Minette, Demopolis, etc.

Every one, familiar names, and every one less than 22,000 people. Chances are, you know someone who lives there, have visited or lived there yourself – or at least driven through some – and maybe all – of those cities and towns. And that is just a partial list.

Put another way, Alabama’s residential population distribution is approximately 50% rural, 50% in incorporated cities & towns. Of those who live in incorporated areas, 50% of them live in cities and towns with less than 22,000 population. The 23 largest cities have 1,567,789 population, or approximately 25% of the state’s population. Clearly, Alabama is largely small town, and rural.

The average household income in the state – according to the Census Bureau – is $43,160. Household income is the total of all income earned by everyone in the household, regardless of who earns it. The United States average household income is $53,046.
ref: http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/01000.html

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Development – ADECA – and their Workforce Development Division, reports that during Governor Bentley’s administration, there have been 70 Closings, and 43 Layoffs during his term in office which represent a total of 19,390 jobs lost.
ref: http://adeca.alabama.gov:42042/wdd/warn.aspx

Extrapolating an average annual loss, that is approximately $836,872,400 household income each year.

Four years is $3,347,489,600.

THREE BILLION dollars… that’s almost real money.

And yet, that represents ONLY wages/salary.

When business leaves Alabama, it doesn’t just lose wages, it removes corporate tax revenue to the city, county & state, vacates bond payments, and eliminates an entire array of ancillary & support jobs, along with their associated economic effects. When an entire business or factory closes, the total cost to Alabama includes much more than lost wages.

What does that mean for the average Alabama family? For that answer, let’s turn to some research performed by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

In May 2006, the BLS produced a report entitled “100 Years of U.S. Consumer Spending: Data for the Nation, New York City, and Boston,” which is BLS Report 991. It is among the most comprehensive examinations of such longitudinal information.

For the year 2002, they found that “expenditures for food, clothing, and housing accounted for 50.1 percent of household spending,” while they found that “of spending on food, 58.1 percent ($3,114) of the average household’s expenditures went for food at home, while 41.9 percent ($2,243) went for food away from home. Grocery spending was divided as follows: 26.0 percent ($812) was for meat, poultry, fish, and eggs; 17.5 percent ($544) was for fruits and vegetables; 14.3 percent ($446) was for cereals and baked goods; and10.5 percent ($328) was for dairy products.”

Of a total %age of annual household expenditures ($40,748), food was 13.1 percent ($5,357), and “expenditures for food, clothing, and housing accounted for 50.1 percent of household spending.”

On average, expenditures for healthcare -5.9%, transportation-19.1%, donations/cash contributions-3.2%, education-2.1%, and personal insurance & pensions-9.8%, accounted for the majority of the remainder.

It is interesting to note that the report found that “the average U.S. family spent 85 percent of its after-tax income, while New York City families spent 79 percent, and Boston families spent 73 percent.” A possible reason for that is significantly greater income for residents of those areas.

Overall, while the report concluded that “U.S. households today enjoy a higher standard of living” by comparison to their 1901 counterparts, there is little, if any, debate that an increased standard of living also has corresponding increased costs and expenses. Changes in living, which include significant changes in technologies (cellular/satellite communications, Internet, computers, etc.), widespread availability of global travel, and other daily activities now taken for granted, must be accounted for when considering such. So while buggy whips and carriages are still made, they are by no means as common, and therefore such costs associated with that mode of transportation are significantly diminished, or almost completely extinct.

Now that we have established additional facts & figures, and done some extrapolation, let’s consider.

What would it be like, if tomorrow, Athens (pop. 21,897) were suddenly faced with 19,000 jobless residents? If tomorrow, 19,000 Albertville (pop. 21,160) residents suddenly woke up to no jobs? If Troy (pop. 18,033), Talladega (pop. 15,676) or Cullman (pop. 14,775) were to suddenly have 19,000 people with NO JOBS, there would be no town. The towns would be devastated, destroyed, decimated.

That’s what we’re talking about.

Then, let’s eliminate their unemployment compensation. Just completely cut it off.

What about the mortgage? The utilities? The car? The insurance? Your healthcare?

That’s what we’re talking about.

Next, let’s significantly reduce or eliminate Food Assistance programs, such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program), and WIC (Women Infants & Children).

That’s what we’re talking about.

Forget about any ability to see a Family Nurse Practitioner, or physician. There’s no money in your budget – or, what’s left of it – to see one, much less get medicines you, or your family may need. And for goodness sake, you sure can’t afford to be admitted to hospital.

19,390.

That’s significant.

That’s not just a slap in the face.

That’s not just a “sucker punch.”

That’s damn near a death blow.

That’s your neighbor, your family… that’s your children, your spouse – even you.

You can’t afford – THEY can’t afford – to wait three to ten years for the promise of a job, for a factory to be built.

You need help NOW.

That’s what we’re talking about.

In the mean time, those folks who write the laws, and make their living off other people’s taxes, continue to do the really important work of ensuring anyone can carry a gun to school, denying business licenses & driver licenses to brown-skinned folk, making it more difficult for everyone to vote (especially minorities), eliminating taxes upon the wealthy & their International Corporate cronies, and giving cash hand-outs to “poor little rich kids” of wealthy parents who want their Johnny & Susie to attend private schools on the taxpayers’ dime.

All except Governor Bentley, of course.

He hasn’t taken a taxpayer-funded salary.

It makes no difference to him, anyway.

He’s a multimillionaire.

What does he care?

On his inauguration day, he had the audacity to say, “I’ve looked into the eyes of those who have lost jobs and can’t feed their families. I’ve talked to people who have lost their homes. I have said time and time again we will put Alabama back to work. We will work with the Federal government, but we will not be dictated by them.”

However, in the years since, he hasn’t lifted one finger to help Alabamians.

Like the insane character Don Quixote, he’s tilted at windmills.

He has NOT cooperated with the Federal government, and instead, has fought them tooth and nail. He, like Governor Wallace of old, has virtually stood in the hospital door to deny admission & coverage to “the least of these, my brethren” – his very own people.

It’s time for his out-of-focus, clueless, lick-and-a-promise to go.

…19,390 jobs ago.

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