By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—In 2010, Rep. Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) and his fellow ALGOP candidates, ran on jobs, fiscal responsibility, and putting an end to business as usual in Montgomery.
An Economic Snapshot report released this month by the Joint Economic Committee of the US Congress finds, Alabama falling behind in economic growth.
Since February 2010, in a span of over five years, representing the National low point for private-sector employment, Alabama businesses show an increase of only 6.3 percent (92,600 jobs), far below the National average of 11.7 percent over this time.
Over the last five years, the greatest private employment gains have been made in leisure and hospitality, traditionally the lowest rung on the job market with a 13.4 percent gain, or 22,300 new jobs.
Education and health services employment gained 15,900 jobs that was a 7.5 percent increase. And professional and business services employment rose by 12.6 percent or 25,700 jobs.
The report found that in May 2015, “average hourly earnings of private-sector workers in Alabama were $20.60. The average workweek was 35.4 hours, and average weekly earnings were $729.24. Adjusting for inflation, the State average hourly earnings have held roughly constant over the past year. Nationally, real average hourly earnings have increased by 2.3 percent (not seasonally adjusted).”
The poverty rate pre-recession was 14.5. It has now grown has grown to 16.7 percent in Alabama. And the number of children living in poverty remains virtually the same as 25 years ago, according to a study by United Healthcare Foundation.
The Congressional report shows slow growth on almost every front. It doesn’t take into account the State’s debt burden or other factors.
According to data derived from the State of Alabama’s September 30, 2013 audited Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and retirement plans’ actuarial reports, Truth in Accounting found the State has a $17.8 billion shortfall, because compensation and other costs that have been pushed into the future. They estimate that each taxpayer’s share of this financial burden is $14,000.
The 2013 study found that the State has accumulated bonds of $9.2 billion, and other liabilities of $4.8 billion. “The State of Alabama has $48.7 billion in assets, but most of these assets are not available to pay State bills,” according to the report.
Governor Robert Bentley has said the State needs $451 million in revenue to place Alabama on solid footing. Others suggest that the State has enough to meet its obligations.
Economic indicators provided by Joint Economic Committee of the US Congress suggest slow to negligible growth over the past five years.