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Not Getting Jobbed by Bentley’s Job Numbers

  |   By: Wesley Vaughn  

Three weeks after Gov. Robert Bentley delivered his State of the State address, critics and Alabama media members have started looking into Bentley’s job growth platform. Unsurprisingly, it’s shaky at best.

Up first, the renown Wayne Flynt. Flynt chronicles on AL.com how Alabama’s original economic development strategy was formed in 1875 and hasn’t changed much since. Flynt explains the thinking at the time, “Recruit low-wage, low-skill industry that will move plants to the lowest cost production site. After 1900, sweeten the pot with tax incentives, rebates, and job training.”

You’d think by now that the state would figure out that playbook has failed us for 100-plus years, but alas, Bentley wasted no time dusting it off and following it verbatim. As Flynt points out, this playbook relies primarily on the manufacturing sector. Yes, the industry that’s been shedding jobs since the mid-1900s and has evolved rapidly over the past two decades alone. It’s time for a new playbook, governor.

Want to see Alabama’s tax incentives for corporations? Too bad. Ty West of the Birmingham Business Journal looks at a study that ranks Alabama 44th “when it comes to transparency over economic development incentives.” The Good Jobs First study scored our state’s transparency as a 16 out of 500. The national average was 7 times that. So not only is the state’s economic growth strategy outdated, it’s also classified.

Gov. Bentley credits himself with 60,000 created jobs. Eh, more like 30,000. Brian Lyman of the Montgomery Advertiser contests Bentley’s numbers (60,000) with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (30,000). Then, Lyman deconstructs Bentley’s touted figures one by one. Unemployment numbers? Lower because of a shrinking work force. High-paying jobs? The manufacturing and leisure & hospitality have been the only sectors growing much during Bentley’s tenure. Bentley’s communications team defends his numbers in the article by citing an aging state population and a growing trucking industry, but they are just grasping at straws at this point.

You can’t forget the “future jobs” that Gov. Bentley has created, though. Yup, Bentley mentioned the “40-thousand new future jobs we’ve created” in his State of the State. Too bad Alabama’s unemployed can’t pay their bill with the “future income” from their “future jobs.” There isn’t even any “future” in those “future jobs,” seeing that they’ll be concentrated in the low-wage, low-skilled industries of the 20th century.

Follow Wesley on Twitter at @WesleyVaughn

Wesley Vaughn has a master's in city planning. He believes in Birmingham, Nick Saban, and his foreseeable marriage to Anna Kendrick.

The Sweet Home Politics Blog features brief thoughts and responses to news. These posts are too long for Twitter but not long enough for a full-length opinion piece.