Alabama is our business Marking 70 years of research and service . . .

Alabama is our business Marking 70 years of research and service . . .

  • August 7th, 2019

Alabama is our business
Marking 70 years of research and service . . .

The Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) turns 70 this year. Since its organization by the School of Business at The University of Alabama in November 1930, CBER has focused on collecting, analyzing, and disseminating socioeconomic and demographic data. Today’s mission still involves these activities but the methods of fulfilling this mission have definitely changed.

The Center established an early presence on the Internet. Our site,, averages around 11,500 hits a month. We post news and announcements as well as articles that present and interpret socioeconomic data. From the Data section of the site, users can read, print, or download current and historical data on Alabama’s population, employment, income, retail sales, and other economic indicators. We also offer an E-News service to notify our users when the site has been updated.

Our publication program has gone high tech as well. Alabama Business, which has been ongoing since 1930, is available online in .pdf format in addition to its traditional printed version. This year Alabama Business changed from a monthly to a larger, quarterly newsletter in an effort to better serve our readers with regular features and detailed analyses of relevant topics.

Earlier this year we produced the 2000 edition of the Economic Abstract of Alabama, our comprehensive 500-page reference book. This publication has been produced every two to three years since 1947. In addition to the printed version, this edition was formatted in Excel worksheets and made available on CD-ROM.

The Center has continued its tradition of handling information requests. In looking back through our files, there are carbon copies (remember carbon paper) of typewriter-generated responses to data requests. Last year we handled about 2,000 requests; most by phone, fax, or email. (None were answered using typewriters or carbon paper!)

The Center’s data resources are enhanced by its participation as Alabama’s lead agency in the U.S. Bureau of the Census State Data Center Program, a role it has filled since 1978, and in the Federal-State Cooperative for Population Estimates and Projections. CBER is also a member of the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis’ State User Group.

Another product that has made it 70 years is our retail sales data series. The current series covers taxable retail sales for Alabama, its counties, and MSAs, reported as total sales and ten component categories. Current data are posted on our web site. Historical sales are available in the Economic Abstract and on diskette.

In the late 1970s, the Center developed an econometric model for Alabama and in 1980 published its first Alabama Economic Outlook, a publication that continues to date. The Outlook contains short-term forecasts of output and employment in Alabama. Forecasts are updated quarterly and a summary is published in Alabama Business and placed on our web site. In 1989 our forecasting program expanded to include an annual economic outlook conference. This year CBER formed a partnership with Compass Bank to present four additional outlook seminars around the state.

Over the years we have developed skills in a number of areas. We have focused on conducting economic impact studies, identifying socioeconomic characteristics of an area, analyzing and forecasting the course of the Alabama economy, and developing specialized population projections.

While we are proud of what we have been, we are focusing on what we will become. We are looking at new products, new services, and new methods of delivery. And we are always interested in your thoughts. You may send us email at or mail at CBER, Box 870221, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487. We would love to hear from you.

Deborah Hamilton