A Statement from PARCA

PARCA—the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama— works to inform and improve state and local government in Alabama through independent, objective, nonpartisan research. We pursue this work to improve the lives of all Alabamians. This is the legacy given to us by our founder, Governor Albert Brewer.

Independent, objective, nonpartisan research requires speaking the truth and calling a thing by its name.

The killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Rayshard Brooks are a series of brutal acts that have gripped our nation’s consciousness and remind us of the racial motivations of segregation, hate, and discrimination. Sadly, this is nothing new. These Americans are among the most recent to join the tragic company of those who have died because of the color of their skin. This is the legacy of systemic racism, injustice, and inequality. This must change.  

Refusing to see, or worse yet, tolerating racism, injustice, and inequality must end. Responding to racism, injustice, and inequality with silence must end. Policies, intentional or otherwise, that sustain racism, injustice, and inequality must change. Until we see these changes, the promise of liberty and justice for all remains hollow. 

PARCA is committed to doing its part to effect such change. In this spirit:

We condemn attitudes, actions, and policies that sustain racism, injustice, and inequality.

We affirm demands for justice, equality, and fairness for African Americans. These are inalienable rights, not policies to debate.  

We support the right to peaceful protests and condemn all acts of violence. 

We invite all people of goodwill to engage in honest self-reflection, to seek a better understanding of the history of African Americans in Alabama and the United States, and to work toward opportunities for reconciliation.

We implore policymakers and leaders at all levels to seek honest information and hear diverse voices to identify and enact policies that will combat systemic racism.

We remain committed to our cause and mission with a renewed sense of responsibility to these concerns.

We continue to produce independent, objective, and nonpartisan research, equipping citizens and leaders with facts that empower, enlighten, and promote mutual understanding.

We reaffirm PARCA’s fundamental premise: Alabama—and the nation—can always do better.

We stand ready to do our part.

New estimates show Huntsville as the state’s second-largest city.

Huntsville’s population grew past Montgomery’s and crossed the 200,000 mark in 2019, making the Rocket City the second largest city in Alabama.

If those estimates are accurate and current trends prevail, Huntsville will surpass Birmingham within the next three years to become the state’s largest city.

With the official 2020 Census count now in the field, Birmingham should hold on to the top spot when the count comes in. The 2019 estimates have Birmingham’s population at 209,403, down 1,084 from 2018. Meanwhile, Huntsville’s population grew by 2,449, pushing the city to 200,574. The 2010 Census put Birmingham’s population at 212,237 and Huntsville’s at 180,105.

Since 2010, Huntsville has added close to 20,000 residents. During this decade, Huntsville passed Mobile, which in 2019 estimated to have 188,720 residents, and Montgomery which is down to 198,525, after starting the decade with 205,593.

Birmingham’s metro area population is still growing and is more than twice the size of Huntsville’s. Six metro Birmingham suburbs ranked among the top 20 for numerical growth since 2010 including Hoover, Birmingham’s largest suburb. Since 2010, the strongest population growth has occurred in the Huntsville area, in Baldwin County, and in the two college towns, Tuscaloosa, and Auburn and Opelika.

In the most recent year, the population was strongest in the Huntsville area. Beyond the city of Huntsville, its neighbors Madison and Athens both ranked in the top five for numerical growth, each adding around 1,000 residents.

Outside the typical hotspots, Dothan saw growth, adding an estimated 604 residents.

With the exception of some cities in the Wiregrass and the Shoals, cities in non-interstate rural areas lost population in the most recent year estimated and throughout the decade. Selma, Tuskegee, and Eufaula had among the largest declines. Since 2010, Selma is down 3,551 residents, a 17% decline since 2010. That city’s 2019 population is estimated at 17,231.

No one knows what effect the Coronavirus pandemic will have on population trends or how it will affect the ongoing 2020 Census count. The stakes are high for Alabama. Population estimates suggest that Alabama is in danger of losing one of its congressional seats due to relatively slow population growth in Alabama compared to fast-growing states.

The disease outbreak has provided an additional demonstration of why it matters that the population of the state is counted as completely as possible. Much of the federal relief sent to states was distributed on Census population-based estimates.

So far, Alabama’s self-response rate to the Census is better than most other states in the Southeast but trails most states in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic.

The Census Bureau sent out instructions for responding to the Census in March, either online, by phone, or through the mail. Starting in mid-April, the Bureau mailed paper questionnaires to homes that had not yet responded online or by phone.

Beginning in August and continuing until October 31, Census takers will be in the field interviewing at homes that haven’t responded. If your household hasn’t been counted, you can still respond.