Birmingham is the largest city in the state of Alabama in the United States. It is the county seat of Jefferson County] and includes part of Shelby County,. According to a 2007 estimate, the city had a population of 229,800. The Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area, as of the 2008 census estimates, has a population of 1,198,932. It is also the largest city in the Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman Combined Statistical Area, colloquially known as Greater Birmingham, which contains roughly one quarter of the population of Alabama.
Today, Birmingham ranks as one of the most important business centers in the Southeastern United States and is also one of the largest banking centers in the U.S. In addition, the Birmingham area serves as headquarters to one Fortune 500 company: Regions Financial. Five Fortune 1000 companies are headquartered in Birmingham.
From Birmingham's early days onward, the steel industry has always played a crucial role in the local economy. Though the steel industry no longer has the same prominence it once held in Birmingham, steel production and processing continue to play a key role in the economy. Several of the nation's largest steelmakers, including U.S. Steel, McWane, and Nucor, all have a major presence in Birmingham. In recent years, local steel companies have announced about $100 million worth of investment in expansions and new plants in and around Birmingham.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Birmingham's economy was transformed by investments in bio-technology and medical research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and its adjacent hospital. The UAB Hospital is a Level I trauma center providing health care and breakthrough medical research. UAB is now the area's largest employer and the largest in Alabama with a workforce of about 20,000. Health care services provider HealthSouth is also headquartered in the city.
Birmingham is also a leading banking center, serving as home to two major banks: Regions Financial Corporation and Compass Bancshares. SouthTrust, another large bank headquartered in Birmingham, was acquired by Wachovia in 2004. The city still has major operations as one of the regional headquarters of Wachovia. In November 2006, Regions Financial merged with AmSouth Bancorporation, which was also headquartered in Birmingham. They formed the 8th Largest U. S. Bank (by total assets). Nearly a dozen smaller banks are also headquartered in the Magic City, such as Superior Bank and New South Federal Savings Bank.
Telecommunications provider AT&T, formerly BellSouth, has a major presence with several large offices in the metropolitan area. Major insurance providers: Protective Life, Infinity Property & Casualty, ProAssurance and Liberty National among others, are headquartered in Birmingham and employ a large number of people in Greater Birmingham.
The city is also a powerhouse of construction and engineering companies, including BE&K, Brasfield & Gorrie and B. L. Harbert International which routinely are included in lists of top design and international construction firms.
Metropolitan Birmingham has consistently been rated as one of America's best places to work and earn a living based on the area's competitive salary rates and relatively low living expenses. One 2006 study published at Salary.com determined that Birmingham was second in the nation for building personal net worth, based on local salary rates, living expenses, and unemployment rates.
A 2006 study by Bizjournals.com calculated Birmingham's "combined personal income" (the sum of all money earned by all residents of an area in a year) at $48.1 billion.
- "Annual Estimates of the Population for Incorporated Places in Alabama, Listed Alphabetically: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2006" (CSV). 2007 Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. 2007-06-28. http://www.census.gov/popest/cities/tables/SUB-EST2006-04-01.csv. Retrieved 2007-06-28.
- McGraw-Hill Construction Engineering News-Record; 2008 Top Design Firms
- McGraw-Hill Construction Engineering News-Record; 2007 Top International Contractors
- Malachowski, Dan. "Salary.com's Salary Value Index". Salary.com. http://aol.salary.com/careersandwork/salary/articles/atcl_careeradvice.asp?atc=569. Retrieved November 9, 2006.
- "Birmingham is wealthy enough for pro sports team, study shows". Birmingham Business Journal. February 14, 2006. http://birmingham.bizjournals.com/birmingham/stories/2006/02/13/daily12.html?jst=b_ln_hl. Retrieved 2006-11-09.