Alabama Socioeconomic Briefs

Alabama Socioeconomic Briefs

  • August 7th, 2019

Alabama Socioeconomic Briefs

Census 2000 Population

Reapportionment numbers released in late December 2000 gave us a first look at Alabama’s actual population growth in the 1990s.  With an unadjusted total population of 4,447,100 as of April 1, 2000, Alabama has added 406,513 residents since the 1990 census.  This 10.1 percent growth rate lagged the U.S. gain of 13.2 percent and ranked Alabama twenty-fifth among the 50 states on percent change in population during the decade.  Rapid growth in Arizona’s population pushed Alabama’s total population ranking down one notch to twenty-third.

[Population counts and rankings are accessible at]

Migration of College Graduates

More college graduates moved out of Alabama than moved in during 1999, according to a recent study.  Professors Beth Ingram and George Neumann of the University of Iowa used Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau data to calculate state-level in- and out-migration of college graduates.  An estimated 2.74 percent of all college graduates living in Alabama in 1999 had resided in a different state in 1998.  On the other hand, 5.35 percent of resident college graduates moved out of the state during the year.  Overall, Alabama saw a net loss of 2.61 percent of her college-educated residents from 1998 to 1999.  Nine states saw a higher percentage net outflow of college graduates during the year, including Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Washington.

State of Alabama and the South

Alabama’s economic progress over the 20 years from 1978 to 1997 was uneven, according to a recently released MDC Inc. study, State of the South 2000.  Both the state’s population and the number of jobs grew more slowly than the national average, with metropolitan areas far outpacing rural gains.  Among 14 southern states, Alabama ranked ninth on job growth from 1978 to 1997.  While 611,000 jobs were created in the state during this period, about 730,000 would have been created if job growth had progressed at the national rate.

The state made progress in improving its job mix, although it remained more reliant on old economy industries than most states.  During the 20-year period of the study, Alabama’s job growth flourished in retail, business and health services, transportation, and some durable manufacturing industries— including industrial machinery, electrical equipment, and motor vehicles.  But above-average job concentration in declining sectors—farming, nondurable manufacturing, and federal government— led to job losses.  As old economy industries have atrophied and new economy industries have grown, Alabama moved toward the mainstream of modern America.  With 32 high-tech employees per 1,000 workers in 1997 (compared to 45 for the United States), Alabama ranked twenty-ninth in the nation, but above average for the South.  Alabama’s 15.3 IT jobs per 1,000 and 23.4 professional, scientific, and technical services employees ranked in the top six among 14 southern states.

Foreign capital was a major impetus for growth in Alabama’s manufacturing sector.  Between 1977 and 1997, the number of foreign-owned enterprises jumped from about 100 to over 600 and employed almost 11 percent of the state’s manufacturing workers.

The State of the South report cautions that, while Alabama has made progress in improving its business mix, it must create more new economy enterprises if the pace of job growth is to accelerate.  And Alabama, like all southern states, must connect its lagging, mostly rural, areas to economic activity, with the goal of pulling all its people into the skilled labor force.

[The State of the South 2000 is available at]

Alabama’s Digital Divide

An August 2000 survey found digital inclusion increasing across states and the gap between the highest and lowest states narrowing.  Almost 770,000 (44.2 percent) of Alabama households owned computers in August 2000, up from about 580,000 households (34.3 percent) in December 1998.  According to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), Alabama households with Internet access at home increased from 365,000 (21.6 percent) in 1998 to about 618,000 (35.5 percent) in 2000.  For the nation as a whole, 51 percent of all households owned computers in 2000, while 41.5 percent had Internet access.  Alabama ranked forty-fourth among the 50 states on computer ownership and forty-third on home Internet access.

Carolyn Trent