Celebrating Alabama Veterans by the Numbers

  • July 24th, 2019

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — In honor of Veteran’s Day, UA’s Center for Business and Economic Research  compiled some interesting statistics about veterans in Alabama. Veterans make up a significant portion of Alabama’s population, with about 9.8 percent of Alabama’s population identifying as a veteran,  according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011‐2015 American Community Survey estimates. Data from the  U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs estimates about 370,000 veterans live in Alabama as of September  30, 2017. By examining the demographic characteristics, educational attainment, and entrepreneurship  of veterans in Alabama, we can appreciate the diversity of veterans and the impact they have on their  local communities.

Alabama Counties with the highest veteran populations

Alabama veterans live throughout the state, but there are several counties that seem to be favorites for  those who served in the armed forces. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011‐2015 American  community Survey (ACS) estimates, Dale County has the highest percentage population of veterans at  18.3 percent. Coffee County follows closely, with 17.7 percent of its population identifying as veterans.  Russell, Autauga, and Baldwin counties all have veteran populations larger than 12.0 percent of their  total population.

Looking at the number of veterans living in a county, we see many veterans living in the more populated  counties. According to the same ACS data set, Jefferson County has the largest population of veterans in the state, with about 42,000 veterans calling the county their home. Madison County also has a  significant population of veterans (33,094), as does Mobile County (30,686). Baldwin and Montgomery  counties both have large veteran populations at 19,608 and 18,656, respectively.

Demographic Characteristics 

About a fifth of Alabama veteran population in 2017 are 17 to 44 years old, according to the U.S.  Department of Veteran Affairs. More than a third or 36.3 percent are 45 to 64 years old, 37.2 percent are 65 to 84 years old, and 6.4 percent are 85 and over. Most of veteran population in the state are men  (89.4 percent) while 10.6 percent are women.

Alabama Veteran Population by Age and Sex

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s ACS data, 21.4 percent of Alabama veterans identify as Black or  African American; 0.7 percent identify as American Indian or Alaska Native alone; and a 75.9 percent majority of veterans living in Alabama identify as White alone. Additionally, 1.5 percent of Alabama  veterans identify as Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Alabama Veteran Population by Race

Educational Attainment

In Alabama, veterans tend to be more educated than nonveterans. Using estimates from the U.S. Census  Bureau, you can see that a greater percentage of veterans than Alabama’s nonveteran population have  at least a bachelor’s degree, and a larger portion of the veteran community has some college or  associate’s degree than the nonveteran population. Additionally, a smaller percentage of veterans have  less than a high school graduate’s level of education than the nonveteran population.

Educational Attainment, Alabama's Civilian Population 18 to 64 Years OldEntrepreneurship 

According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs (2015), among  66,691 Alabama firms, 9.6 percent or 6,425 were veteran‐owned and 3.3 percent or 2,201 firms were  equally veteran‐/nonveteran‐owned. Veteran‐owned firms employed 68,669 people and had an annual  payroll of almost $2.5 billion. Firms that were equally veteran‐ and nonveteran‐owned employed 20,946  people and had an annual payroll of $562.2 million.

Firms in educational services had the largest share of veteran‐owned firms: 16.4 percent or 117 out of  713 firms. The largest share of equally veteran‐/nonveteran‐owned firms was in mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction sector, with 14.3 percent or 17 out of 119 firms. Retail trade industry had the  largest number of veteran‐owned firms: 1,103 companies. The largest number of equally veteran‐ /nonveteran‐owned firms was also in retail trade, with 362 companies.

More data on veteran population are available for all Alabama counties from the Census Bureau’s 2011‐ 2015 American Community Survey.

Contact: Viktoria Riiman, Socioeconomic Analyst, Culverhouse College of Commerce, Center for Business  and Economic Research (CBER), 205‐348‐3757, vriiman@cba.ua.edu; Susannah Robichaux,  Socioeconomic Analyst, Culverhouse College of Commerce, CBER, 205‐348‐3781,  scrobichaux@cba.ua.edu