David Sher, who runs The Comeback Town, has been making the argument for city-county consolidation in the Birmingham metro area on the basis that the existence of rival municipalities in Jefferson County are dragging down relative metro job growth.
Consider the following 2012 metro job growth numbers which were released this afternoon from Al.com:
Auburn-Opelika – 3.18%
Tuscaloosa – 2.35%
Mobile – 2.00%
Montgomery – 1.35%
Florence-Muscle Shoals – 0.74%
Dothan – 0.53%
Birmingham-Hoover – 0.45%
Gadsden – 0.28%
Anniston-Oxford – 0.21%
Huntsville – -0.15%
Decatur – -0.19%
Job growth in the Birmingham-Hoover area in 2012 was “was essentially in line with statewide growth.” In contrast, the Huntsville metro area lost jobs in 2012.
Note: In Georgia, Athens-Clarke County and Augusta-Richmond County have a city-county consolidated government. ASU ranks Athens-Clarke County #135 and Augusta-Richmond County #339 in job growth. Birmingham-Hoover is ranked #291 which compares favorably to Augusta-Richmond County.
David Sher’s favorite examples of city-county consolidated governments are Jacksonville-Duval which is ranked #208, Nashville-Davidson which is ranked #134, and Louisville which is ranked #76.
There are many more Southern metros though which don’t have a city-county consolidated government: Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta which is ranked #144, Houston-Baytown-Sugarland which is #34, Austin-Round Rock which is #16, Raleigh-Cary which is #123, and Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord which is #41.
Birmingham-Hoover and Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta both have incorporated White suburbs in Jefferson County and Fulton County. Yet Atlanta still towers over Birmingham in job growth. Closer to home, Anniston-Oxford is ranked #89 and Montgomery is ranked #159, while Huntsville #296, Auburn-Opelika #343, and Tuscaloosa #363 lag behind Birmingham-Hoover in the ASU rankings.
Montgomery is outperforming Jacksonville-Duval. Savannah and Brunswick (GA), which are ranked #33 and #36 respectively, are strongly outperforming Athens-Clarke County #135 and Augusta-Richmond County #339.
The people of suburban Jefferson County (AL) are wise enough not to be fooled by self-serving arguments made by Birmingham’s promoters.