MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama's total population gain last year might fill up half of Cramton Bowl, Montgomery's municipal football stadium. That could spell trouble for the state's political prospects.
The U.S. Census Bureau this week estimated that Alabama grew by about 12,751 people during the year ending July 1, a minimal 0.2 percent increase that was slower than other states.
Alabama's birth rate is roughly comparable to the nation as a whole — during the year, Alabama had 11.7 births per 1,000 people, vs. about 11.8 per 1,000 for the United States. But the state also had the second-highest rate of death in the country last year, reporting 10.9 deaths per 1,000 people vs. 8.6 for the nation, possibly a reflection of an aging population. West Virginia, with 12.4 deaths per 1,000, reported the highest mortality rate.
The rate of people moving into the state was also low, due in part to low rates of immigration in Alabama. The Census Bureau estimates Alabama gained 1.9 people per 1,000 from people moving into the state last year. Most of that came from individuals moving from other parts of the country. The rate of international migration was 0.7 individual per 1,000, well below the national rate of 3.0 per 1,000.
Alabama's birth rate was below the South's overall rate (12.1 per 1,000), as was the rate of migration into the state (6.1 per thousand). The death rate in Alabama was notably higher than the region's (8.9 per 1,000).
The state had 4,887,871 residents on July 1, according to the Census.
With reapportionment looming after the 2020 Census, Alabama is on the cusp of losing one of its seven seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, a development that could reduce the state's voice in the lower chamber. It would be the first loss of a seat for the state since 1970.
The state's growth rate among the states also fell from 27th in 2017 to 34th in 2018, which could possibly increase the chances of the state losing a seat.
State officials are trying to prevent the loss in several ways.
Gov. Kay Ivey's administration has launched a program aimed at securing a high participation rate in the Census. Attorney General Steve Marshall has also sued to try to prevent the counting of undocumented immigrants in the Census, a move that could reduce the official level of growth in states like Texas, though it could also reduce the total count of people in Alabama.
Nevada had the highest percentage growth last year, with its population going up 2.1 percent, according to Census estimates. Idaho also reported 2.1 percent growth. Texas added the most individuals, with the Census estimating 379,128 joining the residents of the state last year. Florida added 322,513 people last year.
West Virginia's population shrunk 0.6 percent last year, while Illinois saw a population drop of 0.4 percent. Alaska; Connecticut; Hawaii; Louisiana; Mississippi; New York and Wyoming also reported population drops last year.