In the latest installment of the Alabama Policy Institute’s (API) By The Numbers series, the conservative think tank compares Detroit, filer of the largest government bankruptcy in American history, to Birmingham, county seat of Jefferson County, which comes in at number two on that list.
What did API find?
The Magic City and the Motor City unfortunately have a lot in common.
Both cities have seen a significant decline in population over the last 60 years. Birmingham’s population has dropped 35 percent over that period, while Detroit’s has fallen 61 percent.
Both cities have a serious poverty problem. 32 percent of Birmingham’s residents and 41 percent of Detroit’s residents live below the poverty line. The national average is 16 percent.
Both cities are struggling with the deterioration of the family unit. Both Detroit and Birmingham have a disproportionate number of single-parent households. An incredible 29 percent of Birmingham households with children under the age of 18 are headed by a single mother. The national average is just over 7 percent.
The percentage of houses left vacant in both Birmingham and Detroit is 2-3 times the national average.
But two metrics jump out above the rest when comparing Birmingham and Detroit: the size of each city’s government, and their crime rates.
Birmingham has more government workers than any city of similar size in the entire country — 48.21 residents per city worker. Even the ratio of residents to city workers in Detroit’s out-of-control bureaucracy pales in comparison. Detroit has 58 residents for every one city worker.
In a May 31 article titled “Study shows Birmingham’s city government is gigantic,” Yellowhammer used API research to explain how Birmingham has become a poster city for big government:
Birmingham’s population has fallen by 38% over the past fifty years, but the size and cost of the city’s government operations have shot through the roof. The city currently employs roughly 21 employees per 1,000 residents. That is more than any city of similar size in the United States. Comparable cities get along with an average of 11.3 city employees per 1,000 residents.
In order to prop up Birmingham’s enormous government, each resident of the city has to fork over almost $1,000 more per year than residents of other cities of comparable size.
And the city government’s growth does not appear to be slowing down.
Birmingham’s operating expenses have increased 162% since the year 2000, and they spend more than any other similar city on general government operations, public safety and public works.
As stunning as the size of Birmingham’s government is, the crime is even worse.
Birmingham’s total crime rate is actually higher than Detroit’s, a place where law enforcement officials have warned residents to hunker down and be on guard because the police can no longer adequately protect them.
Birmingham averages over 8,400 crimes per 100,000 residents. The national average is roughly 4,300.
All of that information and more is illustrated in the infographic below.
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