Column: Norris: Alabama’s economy is underperforming

According the St. Louis Federal Reserve, the Gross State Product for Alabama in 2015 was $178.566 billion, in constant 2009 dollars. That is a fancy way of saying when adjusted for inflation using 2009 as the base year. Using that same technique, it estimates our GSP was $171.723 billion in 2005.

The good news is we have increased our economic output over the last decade. The bad news is we haven’t increased it by very much, only 0.39 percent per year when annualized. While the country hasn’t been growing like gangbusters, our growth has trailed by a pretty decent margin, roughly 0.89 percent per year. That might not sound like much, but it can add up when you are talking about billions of dollars.

To that end, had we just grown at the national average, our GSP would have been about $16.5 billion larger in 2015 than it was. If we assume there are 4.9 million people living in our state, that amount of difference works out to be about $3,371 per person.

While our state has had a few bright spots, the data suggests we have underperformed overall. Shoot, you don’t have to venture too far outside our major population centers to conclude we haven’t been hitting on all cylinders. Who knows? If only we had been average, maybe the Pizza Hut in Evergreen wouldn’t have closed. It was a good one.

It annoys people when I throw these numbers around, and most of them counter with something along the lines of: “timber prices haven’t really rebounded since the housing bubble burst, and the Obama Administration pretty much killed the coal industry. Do you know what happened to cotton prices after 2010? So, what do you expect Norris?”  (Read the full article as previously published in the Montgomery Advertiser on April 3rd, 2017)