The University of Alabama

State’s Hispanic Population Higher than Estimated, According to Census Bureau

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The Census Bureau has revised its previous estimate of Alabama’s 2009 Hispanic population upward by nearly 18,000, according to the State Data Center at The University of Alabama.

The Census Bureau has done some homework and realized that the Hispanic population in Alabama is larger than it had been estimating through most of this decade,” said Annette Watters, manager of the State Data Center, housed at the Center for Business and Economic Research at UA’s Culverhouse College of Commerce.

“When the Census Bureau released the new estimates for the year 2009, it also revised the previous years’ estimates of Alabama’s Hispanic presence upward by thousands. The estimate of the number of Hispanic persons in Alabama for 2009 is 152,516, up from the estimate of one year ago of 134,810.”

Watters said it is no surprise to demographers that the county with the largest population – Jefferson – is also the county with the most Hispanic residents.

“The new estimates for 2009 estimated Jefferson County’s Hispanic population to be more than 23,600,” Watters said. Other counties with more than 10,000 Hispanics are Madison and Marshall.

Some smaller population counties have significant Hispanic populations, and those communities are growing, Watters said.

“DeKalb, Franklin and Marshall counties are each more than 12 percent Hispanic,” Watters said. Several other rural Alabama counties—Lawrence, Coffee and Bullock as examples—have Hispanic communities that are increasing significantly every year.  Lauderdale, Limestone and Russell are counties that are not entirely rural but also have a growing Hispanic presence.

The federal government, Watters said, does not define Hispanic as a race, and Hispanic persons may be of any race.

The new tables from the Census Bureau also provide new estimates of the racial composition of Alabama’s counties. Alabama has 11 majority-black counties.

Macon County is 82 percent black, and Marengo County is 51 percent black. The other majority-black counties are Greene (79 percent), Sumter (72 percent), Wilcox (72 percent), Lowndes (70 percent), Bullock (68 percent), Dallas (68 percent), Perry (67 percent), Hale (58 percent), and Montgomery (54 percent).

“Racial distribution in Alabama has never been across the state,” Watters said. “Many of the counties in north Alabama, in the foothills of the Appalachians, have fewer than 10 percent black population.”

Jefferson County is 41 percent black, yet because it is such a densely populated county it has more black residents than any other county. Watters said Jefferson County has 272,163 black residents and a total population of 665,027.

The county with the next largest number of black residents with 141,848 is Mobile, the state’s second most populous county. Mobile County’s total population is 411,721.

Watters said the population estimates are the last ones to be released before the results of the 2010 census are made public.

“We will have to use these estimates for the next year or so until the Census Bureau has time to tabulate and release the 2010 census counts. When we get the census results, we hope they show even more population growth than these estimates indicate,” Watters said.

“If everybody in Alabama filled out and returned their census forms, then the minorities in Alabama will get all the credit they deserve for being present and active in our cities and counties. If we don’t have an accurate 2010 census count, the estimates for the next 10 years are likely to under-represent Alabama’s true picture for the next 10 years.”

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.