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The University of Alabama

Population Grew in Most Alabama Metro Areas in 2015

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama’s metro area population continued to grow, increasing by 14,754 people, or 0.4 percent, from July 1, 2014 to July 1, 2015, according to the population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Population in non-metro areas of the state continued declining by 0.2 percent or by 2,186 people.

“What these numbers tell us is that more people are moving in than moving out in half of the state’s metro areas,” said Viktoria Riiman, a socioeconomic analyst for The University of Alabama Culverhouse College of Commerce’s Center for Business and Economic Research. “We also see that births outnumber deaths in most metro areas.”

Most metropolitan statistical areas saw an increase in their population, but some areas saw a decline. The largest increase of 4,028 people (0.9 percent) occurred in Huntsville while Daphne-Fairhope-Foley saw the largest percentage increase of 2.0 percent or 3,996 people in 2015.

Birmingham-Hoover, Auburn-Opelika and Tuscaloosa metro areas saw population increase of 2,824, 2,567, and 1,919 people, respectively.

During the last year, population also increased in Dothan by 178 people, in Mobile by 469, and in Montgomery by 536 people. Meanwhile, the Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville, Decatur, Florence-Muscle Shoals and Gadsden population declined.

Alabama Population Growth Chart

Alabama Population Growth Chart

Looking closer at the components of population change gives a better understanding of underlying trends in metro area population.

Six out of the 12 metro areas experienced both positive natural increase (births minus deaths) and positive net migration (in-migrants minus out-migrants) in 2015.

Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville, Florence-Muscle Shoals and Gadsden had both negative natural increase and net migration that year.

For Florence-Muscle Shoals metro, 2015 represented a reverse trend in net migration—the number of in-migrants exceeded the number of out-migrants before, causing positive population growth during previous years.

Dothan, Mobile, and Montgomery had births exceeding deaths, but the number of people moving out of the area was higher than the number of people moving into the area.

A recent positive trend in employment may have some effect on future metro population. Only Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville and Mobile saw a decline in annual employment during the period ending in February 2016, according to the preliminary data released by the Alabama Department of Labor.

The declines represent 0.2 and 0.3 percent decrease in total employment or loss of 92 jobs and 493 jobs for these two areas, respectively.

Other metro areas with population decline in 2015 saw an increase in the number of jobs: Decatur total employment increased by 74 people, Florence-Muscle Shoals by 576, and Gadsden by 1,012 people from February 2015 to February 2016.

DATA: Population estimates are available at CBER website:

The Center for Business and Economic Research in the Culverhouse College of Commerce at The University of Alabama was created in 1930, and since that time it has engaged in research programs to promote economic development in the state and provide economic and demographic forecasting, data, and analysis. 

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.