UA’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) forecasted a stabilized Alabama economy at the 23rd annual Economic Outlook Conference held January 13 in Montgomery. UA’s CBER also predicts a steady economic growth throughout 2011, expecting Alabama real GDP to grow more than 3.4 percent, faster than the 3.2 percent gain IHS Global Insight forecasts for the United States.
Employment in the state is also expected to continue rebounding this year, following a 1.1 percent decline in 2010. An expected 13,000 jobs should be added, representing an increase of 0.7 percent. While job trends were mixed across Alabama’s 11 metros over the past year, every area except Gadsden, which was flat, added jobs in March. Nevertheless, while unemployment will remain high for a while, the improving economy is expected to encourage more people to enter or reenter the labor force.
Another encouraging sign is the rate at which Alabama’s economy is rebounding. After falling late, it has recovered more quickly than most states. Continuing diversification into biotechnology, aerospace, automotive, national defense, steel, shipbuilding, and other high-paying manufacturing and white-collar jobs further strengthen the state’s recovery.
The Alabama workforce has taken notice of the improving economy and job market. Business sentiment for the second quarter of 2011, measured by the Alabama Business Confidence Index™ (ABCI) survey, rose 0.8 points to 55.8. Although improvement in the general economic environment is expected to be weaker, the ABCI reading indicates that the economic recovery should be on firm ground and sustainable throughout the year.
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