How Alabama Stacks Up
A random but insightful comparison of Alabama versus other folks.
Alabama adds up. Statistically compared to the nation and neighboring states, the Heart of Dixie excels in some categories, is worse in others, and occasionally, scores a “What Were We Thinking?”
Let’s run the numbers:
1. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis: In 2014 Alabama’s population was 4,849,377. It is ranked 23rd from the top in the country.
2. Alabama is higher than the national average for people per square mile. The state has 94.4 per square mile. The U.S. average is 87.4.
3. In physical size, at 52,420.7 square miles, Alabama is the 30th largest of the 50 states. We beat Louisiana by 42 square miles, making the Bayou State number 31.
4. Our median household income (2009-2013) is $43,253. The national median household income averages $53,046 — as per the 2014 U.S. Census.
5. Our State Bird is the Yellowhammer but our favorite bird is the fried chicken — listed by ask.com as Alabama’s food of choice. Southern fried yard bird is followed by biscuits (Montgomery’s baseball team’s mascot), green beans, crab cakes and banana pudding.
6. Man’s Best Friend is the dog, and according to vetstreet.com, so is Alabama’s. Our favorite canine of distinction is the Labrador retriever. Second place is the Chihuahua. Labs are also favored in 42 states. Completing Alabama’s top 5 are: (3) American pit bull terrier, (4) Shih Tzu and (5) the Yorkshire terrier.
7. Our gross domestic product in 2014 was $199.4 billion, ranked 26th in the U.S. Alabama’s largest industry in 2014 is government, with 16.6 percent of the state’s GDP. Rounding out the top 5 industries are finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing.
8. According to the 2014 U.S. Census, in percentages Alabama’s population is 69.7 White, 26.7 Black, 4.1 Hispanic or Latino. The same percentages for the U.S. are: 77.4 White, 13.2 Black, and 17.4 Latino.
9. The cluck stops here, as the Alabama Poultry Association notes. In 2004, the state was 3rd highest in broiler production (behind Arkansas and Georgia). And with flocks producing 21 billion eggs resulting in $288 million, Alabama is the 13th highest state for egg production.
10. About 69.7 percent of Alabamians own their homes. The median value of the state’s owner-occupied housing unit in 2009 – 2013 is $122,500. Mississippi’s is $99,900. The U.S. average home price is $176,700.
11. The average Alabama household is 2.55 people, compared to 2.63 in the average U.S. household.
12. We leave our housing units quite often, to eat out. In 2014, according to restaurant.org, Alabama had 7,673 dining establishments. Mississippi had 4,495 eating and drinking spots. Florida had 39,325. In 2015, Alabama’s dining and drinking industry generated $6.9 billion and employed 181,700 people, Mississippi’s 2015 restaurant sales totaled $3.6 billion and Florida’s, a whopping $36.4 billion.
13. According to Gallup, Alabamians have the 3rd highest church attendance in the nation. Mississippi is second. Utah is first. Dead last for church attendance is Alaska.
14. We are the fourth highest state in obesity, so says the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The lowest is Colorado. Number one is Mississippi.
15. Alabama is the 2nd highest in the U.S for death by cardiovascular disease. Mississippi is first. The disease is Alabama’s number one killer, claiming 12,083 lives in 2010, as reported by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
16. On a happier note, according to Bigthink.com, Alabama has the lowest rate of alcohol abuse in the U.S.
17. Politically, Alabama is a Red State, having voted GOP in every presidential election since 1980. In the 2012 Presidential election, the state supported Republican candidate Mitt Romney 22 percent over Barack Obama. The Republican percentage was almost identical for candidate John McCain against Obama in 2008. The state’s governor is a Republican and both houses of the State Legislature are Republican controlled. Alabama’s two U.S. Senators, and six out of seven members of Congress are also Republicans.
18. As for education: 83 percent of Alabamians have a high school degree or higher. The U.S. average is 86 percent. The state’s percentage of college educated includes 23.1 percent with a bachelor’s degree. The national average is 29.3 percent.
19. For state fuel tax, as reported in bankrate.com, Alabamians pay 16 cents a gallon. Georgia’s (lowest in the nation) is 7.5. Florida is 16.6 cents per gallon. Mississippi is 18.4.
20. In other taxing news, “Alabama faces low tax burdens, paying 8.3 percent of their incomes in state and local taxes as of 2011,” according to the Tax Foundation. “By comparison, the average American spent almost 10 percent of their incomes on such taxes.”
21. Sperling’s “Best Places” website rates Alabama as 89.50 for favorable cost of living. Calculating food, fuel and property taxes, the state ranks number 8 in least expensive state to live in.
22. Automobile Production: We are 5th place in the U.S. for car and light truck production (Automotive News Market Data Book 2013). Alabama automakers produced more than 918,000 cars and light trucks in 2013.
23. Speaking of cars, 85.3 percent of Alabamians drive to work alone, 9.5 percent carpool. Florida, Georgia and Mississippi drivers’ percentages are 79.3, 79.6 and 83.5 respectively.
24. According to collegexpress.com, Alabama has the 7th largest on-campus sports arena in the U.S., Bryant-Denny Stadium at the University of Alabama. Filled to capacity, it seats 101,821, the approximate combined populations of Alabaster, Auburn and Foley.
25. Shipping 54 million tons from the State Docks in Mobile alone, in 2013 the U.S. Department of Transportation registered Alabama as having the 12th largest shipping tonnage in the U.S. Numbers 1 to 3 most tonnage ports are in Louisiana, Texas and New York.
26. According to Gallup 2014 poll of the 50 Best States to Live In, Alabama scores 29. Mississippi is 48 and Rhode Island comes in last at 50. Gallup’s number one state for livability is Montana — with winters colder than your freezer.
27. In 2014, Alabama union members accounted for 10.8 percent of wage and salary workers. Nationwide, 2014 union membership is 11.1 percent.
28. In 2013, the U.S. Census revealed 77 percent of Alabamians have a home computer, compared to 84.4 for Florida, 83.5 in Georgia, and 73.8 in Mississippi.
29. Finally, Alabama leads the nation with the most people hospitalized from injuries received by a meteor — one. On November 30, 1954, Sylacauga’s Anne Hodges was struck by an extraterrestrial rock, which plunged through her home’s roof. She was hospitalized, giving Alabama the only authenticated case of a meteorite injury in America.
Emmett Burnett is a freelance contributor to Business Alabama. He is based in Satsuma.