A year after the pandemic hit, Alabama’s economy was already back, and the beaches were booming.
In fact, the economy was booming in most parts of the state in 2021 before the pandemic hit. This is especially true in Birmingham, Huntsville and Montgomery.
This is according to the latest data from US Bureau of Economic AnalysisThat shows 45 of Alabama’s 67 counties saw an increase in real gross domestic product, or the inflation-adjusted total value of all goods and services produced in a year, when comparing 2019 and 2021.
The state was led by one of its largest and fastest growing counties – Baldwin County.
Baldwin County, home to Alabama’s beaches, sees a 10% increase in real GDP in 2021 compared to 2019, the last full year before the pandemic shuts it down. Baldwin is tied with Cullman County, a small county between Birmingham and Huntsville, for the fastest growth in the state during that period.
[Can’t see the map? Click here.]
The Yellowhammer State’s economic growth ground to a halt in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a halt. But since then, many countries have actually seen a growth spurt, including some of the largest economies by state.
Jefferson County, home of Birmingham and the largest county in the state, sees a record year for GDP growth in 2021. Jefferson’s GDP is projected to increase by 5% between 2020 and 2021, the highest annual increase in more than a decade. This increase more than offset the 2% decline Jefferson County saw in 2020. Prior to the pandemic, Jefferson County’s economy had been relatively stable for a long period of time. It has grown by an average of about 1% per year over the past decade.
But in total dollar terms, 2021 was Jefferson County’s biggest year in two decades, with real GDP reaching $42 billion, surpassing the previous record set in 2005, before the economic crash and the Great Recession.
Overall, Alabama’s GDP is projected to grow 5% in 2021 after declining 2% in 2020, shows Jefferson County. You can find the trend line for any Alabama county in the chart below.
[Can’t see the chart? Click here.]
Madison County – home to Huntsville and one of the fastest-growing counties in the state – also sees major growth and record GDP in 2021. The economy there has been booming for decades, barely slowing for either the Great Recession or the COVID-19 pandemic. The county’s real GDP is projected to reach more than $25 billion in 2021, nearly doubling its inflation-adjusted number from 2001.
Compared to the first year of the pandemic, most counties show significant signs of improvement in 2021. 56 of Alabama’s 67 counties see GDP growth between 2020 and 2021. The largest year-over-year increase occurred in Crenshaw County, in south Alabama, where real GDP increased nearly 20% after falling during the shutdown.
[Can’t see the map? Click here.]
Several counties saw large declines in GDP in 2020, and Crenshaw was the hardest hit. It projected a 15% decline in real GDP between 2019 and 2020.
Still some counties saw a drop in GDP even after the initial pandemic closed. Four Black Belt counties – Greene, Hale, Perry and Wilcox – each see real GDP decline by at least 10% between 2020 and 2021.
Do you have an idea for a data story about Alabama? email ramsey at archibald [email protected]and follow him on twitter @RamseyArchibald, Read more Alabama Data stories Here,