Albany GDP up but jobs lag

Barbara Rivera Holmes

Albany's industrial sector is growing, that according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Commerce. But what do the numbers really mean and why is unemployment still near record levels?

New numbers from the Federal Bureau of Economic Analysis show steady growth for the Albany-Dougherty industrial sector from 2001 â" 2009. Metro Albany's Gross Domestic Product hit $4.9 billion in 2009, even as the region and the nation was slipping further into the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

"What that means is that there's been a growth in the output and production of services and manufacturing produced locally," said Barbara Rivera Holmes of the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission. "So those are good numbers."

Much of the growth â" 26% - is attributed to national defense. "Growth at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Maintenance Center Albany, and also, in the private defense industry," added Holmes.

Economics Professor Aaron Johnson of Darton College warns that the overall economy remains stagnant but sees potential for Albany. "We're doing than most metropolitan statistical areas in Georgia," said Johnson. "If we make the right infrastructure investments , to improve schools in Lee County and Dougherty County, and the whole region, we can capitalize on that."

Despite numbers that seem positive, Albany is continuing to follow a national trend where business growth has yet to equal to equal significant job growth. This recession is much deeper than previous recessions," said Johnson. "Yes, it's going to take a while before we can see the actual labor market improve."

"If you can do more with less, than you do," said Holmes. "We do that as regular people, with everything in our lives, we do more with less with our paychecks, with the things we have in our home, and businesses do the same thing."

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