Population growth right for Alabama

Published 11:04 pm Wednesday, January 2, 2008

By Staff
The news that Alabama's population increased by nearly 1 percent from July 2006 to July 2007 isn't much of a surprise. While that growth isn't record-breaking by any gauge and is, in fact, still considered on the slow side, it makes sense there would be a population surge in a state with an economy as hot as Alabama's.
There are good jobs in Alabama, and people go where good jobs are.
Even so, the state's jobless rate remains among the nation's lowest, and the Birmingham/Hoover metro area recently posted the lowest unemployment rate in the country for metropolitan areas of 1 million people or more.
With the building of the ThyssenKrupp steel plant near Mobile, a surge of new Army jobs coming to the Huntsville area because of military consolidations at Redstone Arsenal, the growing medical and research facilities at UAB and a vibrant manufacturing segment in central Alabama led by big automakers, there isn't likely to be a reversal in population growth anytime soon.
The population estimate comes this week from the U.S. Census Bureau, which said Alabama's population increased by eight-tenths of a percent during the one-year period. That puts the state's population at a bit more than 4.6 million. Since 2000, Alabama has grown a healthy 4.1 percent.
Alabama's growth is considered slow compared to Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida, but is out front of Mississippi and Louisiana. The positive news about relatively slow growth like Alabama's is that unlike Utah and Arizona, the fastest-growing states, Alabama's growth can be better managed.
We've seen firsthand what fast, unmanaged growth can do. In Shelby County - where the population has increased more than 150 percent over the past 25 years - schools, highways and other infrastructure can't keep up with the population growth. Imagine the same challenges statewide.
That's what Utah and Arizona and, to a lesser extent, Georgia, Florida and other fast-growing states face. Alabama's overall growth, however, is manageable. The demographic and political research firm POLIDATA projects that Alabama's population from 2000 to 2010 will increase by 7.1 percent.
That's a modest increase, but it takes Alabama out of a group of the slowest growing states that are in danger of losing seats in Congress after the next reapportionment. Alabama will keep its seven House seats, POLIDATA predicts, and that's good news, too. The fewer representatives in Congress, the less clout Alabama would have in Washington. Thankfully, that's no danger now.
The Birmingham News

Email newsletter signup