Encouraging, up to a point: Area gained 1,200 jobs in last 12 months
by Patrick McCreless
Oct 31, 2012 | 3689 views |  0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Duffy Dempsey, kitchen manager at Red Pepper Grill in Oxford, works through the steam on a patron's order. (Anniston Star photo by Bill Wilson)
Duffy Dempsey, kitchen manager at Red Pepper Grill in Oxford, works through the steam on a patron's order. (Anniston Star photo by Bill Wilson)
There were 1,200 more jobs in the area in September compared to last year, but not necessarily in the sectors needed for true economic growth.

According to figures the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Tuesday, there were 1,200 more names on companies’ payrolls in Anniston and Oxford in September than during the same month the previous year. And while more jobs are good for the area, the increase was not in the construction and manufacturing sectors — industries that economists say are needed to truly pull the state out of the recession.

Keivan Deravi, an economist at Auburn University Montgomery, said construction jobs in housing and other areas, along with manufacturing jobs, are needed to fully boost the state’s economy out of the recession.

“When you see construction come back, you’ll see manufacturing come back because construction pushes manufacturing,” Deravi said.

Manufacturing and construction tend to provide well-paying jobs, he said, allowing more people to spend more money and stimulate the economy.

A breakdown of the statistics shows manufacturing in Anniston and Oxford stayed steady with no change between September and the same month last year. The manufacturing sector encompasses multiple industries, including automotive suppliers, some of which are located in Calhoun County. Area construction also had zero job growth in the last 12 months.

There was job growth in several sectors however, including a 4.4 percent increase in the leisure and hospitality sector, a 3.7 percent increase in business and professional services, a 2.2 percent increase in trade, transportation and utilities and a 3 percent increase in government. Leisure and hospitality includes restaurants and hotels; business and professional services includes attorneys, accountants and the like; and trade and transportation includes retail and trucking. There was also a 2 percent increase in the health and education sector.

The statistics count the number of paying jobs in Anniston and Oxford and not the number of residents living in the area who have jobs. That means some of the jobs could be held by people living outside the county, and that some people may have more than one job.

The state grew by 16,300 jobs year-over-year, experiencing growth in many of the same sectors as the Anniston-Oxford metro area.

Deravi said he was not surprised by where the jobs were being created.

“Retail and hospitality and health sectors have always created jobs,” Deravi said.

However, unlike manufacturing jobs, work in sectors such as retail and hospitality tend to be more cyclical, with high turnover rates and smaller paychecks.

“There is a need for continuous hiring,” said Larry Fidel, president of the Alabama Hospitality Association. “We will hire a lot of first-time workers.”

Fidel said restaurants and hotels have experienced some growth in the state in the last year.

“Because the industry continues to expand, there is a need for workers,” Fidel said. It’s still tough all over, but we’ve certainly been doing better the last couple of years.”

Marty Nunis, co-owner of Red Pepper Grill in Oxford, opened his restaurant in March. Nunis said he currently employs 25 people, serving mainly Tex-Mex cuisine. Nunis noted that business has not been great the past year — another sign the area economy is still struggling.

“It’s slowed down a lot,” Nunis said.

Greg Brown, chairman and CEO of BR Williams Trucking in Oxford, said his business has hired about 15 people in the last 12 months.

“It’s certainly not gangbusters by any means, but it is improvement,” Brown said.

Brown said business has improved in the past year among most of BR Williams’ customers.

“Only customers related to housing and construction are down,” Brown said. “But the rest of the industries — foundries and automobiles — they are all up and busier than they were last year.”

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.
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