The latest U.S. Census Bureau data reveals that the state’s population increased to a level higher than any time in more than a decade, with the surge likely due to domestic migration and an above-average birth rate in 2022, according to an analysis by the Public Affairs Council of Alabama.
These census estimates place Alabama at 20th nationally in population growth and ahead of fellow southeastern states like Mississippi and Louisiana, which both saw decreases in their population between 2021 and 2022. The state’s population grew by 0.5 percent, or 24,450, between 2021 and 2022, according to the PARCA analysis. The neighboring state of Florida was ranked 1st in population growth, with the state’s population increasing by 1.9 percent.
Earlier in the previous decade, Alabama’s population changed based on natural change, which is births minus deaths, and international migration showed positive growth at a slow rate. Between 2010 and 2017, international immigration outpaced domestic immigration in Alabama, with 2018 being the first year of that decade to show domestic immigration than international immigration.
According to the analysis, the state now ranks 16th in domestic migration in 2022.
“Changes to immigration policy during the Trump administration and with restrictions imposed during the pandemic, international immigration contracted,” wrote Thomas Spencer, the analysis author. “However, for Alabama, the contraction in international migration was offset by a surge in domestic migration: more people moving to Alabama from other U.S. states.”
At the same time, the state birth rate remained at around the same level, while the death rate did much the same until the COVID-19 Pandemic, which sharply increased the state rate. 2021 proved the deadliest year of the decade, with 69,056 deaths recorded, according to the analysis.
“With the arrival of Covid-19, the number of deaths jumped,” Spender wrote. “Natural change has gone negative, with more people dying than being born. While mortality from Covid will decline, the death rate is expected to remain elevated as the large population cohort known as the Baby Boom ages and moves into years of increased mortality.”
Alabama has the 5th highest death rate in the country as of 2022, with only Mississippi, which ranks 2nd, the only boarding state with a higher death rate, according to the analysis.
The PARCA analysis concludes that while the state is growing in population, it is slower than neighboring states like Georgia and Florida. At the same time, the state’s birth rate is just above the national average, while the death rate ranks among the highest in the U.S.
Additional estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau for counties, cities, and metro areas are expected to be released later this year, according to PARCA, with those statistics to reveal more information as to where people inside the state are moving, as well as other factors affecting population change.