Birmingham is the largest city in the U.S. state of Alabama and is the county seat of Jefferson County. It also includes part of Shelby County. The population of the city is 242,820 as of the 2000 census, and 229,424 according to the 2006 estimate. The Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area, as of the 2007 census estimates, has a population of 1,108,210. 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.Birmingham was founded in 1871, just after the U.S. Civil War, as an industrial enterprise. It was named after Birmingham, one of the UK's major industrial cities. Through the middle of the 20th century, Birmingham was the primary industrial center of the Southern United States. The astonishing pace of Birmingham's growth through the turn of the century earned it the nicknames "The Magic City" and "The Pittsburgh of the South". Much like Pittsburgh in the north, Birmingham's major industries centered around iron and steel production.
Over the course of the 20th century, the city's economy diversified. Though the manufacturing industry maintains a strong presence in Birmingham, other industries such as banking, insurance, medicine, publishing, and biotechnology have risen in stature. Birmingham has been recognized as one of the top cities for income growth in the United States South with a significant increase in per capita income since 1990.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.
The Birmingham area is taking another hit at the International Paper Mill as almost 700 employees will be laid off by mid-February. The decline in demand for uncoated paper products has made the company decide to close the mill, thus saving the company $125 million. On top of that, BBVA Compass is cutting an additional 400 to 600 jobs in its banking and real estate loan divisions starting in February. Meanwhile Sertec, an automotive manufacturing group is creating 400 jobs at Birmingham plants in the next four years. That announcement is in addition to the 200 new employees that the group has brought to the area in the past year.