The Birmingham-Hoover metro contains a population of over 1.1 million in Jefferson, Bibb, Shelby, Blount, Chilton, Walker and St. Clair counties. Jefferson is the most populated county with 659,200 inhabitants. The largest city is Birmingham, with 212,500 persons, followed by Hoover and Bessemer. Population growth is expanding outward from the city along the interstate system in cities such as Alabaster.
The recovery in manufacturing is helping to fuel the local economy with manufacturing employment having outpaced the national average since 2010. The GMP of the Birmingham-Hoover metro is forecast to grow by 2.5 percent this year, while retail sales will expand 3.6 percent. Additionally, local and state officials are implementing incentive and training programs to attract companies to the region and boost employment.
While the steel industry remains a key component within the Birmingham economy, particularly with regards to automobile manufacturing, it does not maintain the same level of prominence it once held. Today, continued diversification into high-paying manufacturing and white-collar jobs is strengthening the state’s recovery.
The healthcare and financial services industries have become more dominant. The University of Alabama at Birmingham, a leader in biotechnology and medical research, has greatly transformed the local economic landscape by injecting billions of dollars annually. On the financial services side, many major banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions are headquartered in the area.
Birmingham is situated in the Jones Valley of the Appalachian foothills. The metro has a pleasant subtropical climate that results in warm summers and mild winters.