2020 census results show Huntsville is Alabama’s largest city
The US Census Bureau released 2020 census data on Thursday showing Huntsville is now the largest city in the state of Alabama, well ahead of Birmingham, where the Census Bureau found a steep drop in population over the past the last decade.
The new 2020 census figures are dramatically different from the 2020 Census Bureau estimates which still had Birmingham with a slight demographic advantage over Huntsville, the state’s fastest growing city.
Census officials counted 215,006 residents in Huntsville against a 2020 census estimate of just 205,472. This represents an increase of nearly 18.9% for the city over the 2010 census population.
In Birmingham, by contrast, census officials counted only 200,733 actual residents; compared to the 207,235 residents the Census Bureau expected to find in its 2020 census estimates.
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said he is working to make Huntsville the best city in the state, not necessarily the biggest.
“I’m proud that the great things we have in Huntsville have made our town grow,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. “To tell the truth, we are more focused on being the best than the biggest. This is what my team and I will continue to work on every day.
Congressman Mo Brooks, R-AL05, who has represented Huntsville in Congress for the past decade, said Huntsville is a great place to live.
“The secret is out…Huntsville is a great place to live, and it’s now the largest city in Alabama!” Brooks said on social media. “I am happy to see that the amazing city we call home has added some new neighbours. Thank you to everyone who makes Rocket City such a special place!”
Huntsville has grown from the fourth largest city in the state in the 2010 census with only 180,941 residents to the first city in the state of Alabama with 215,006 residents.
Birmingham was once called the Magic City because of how quickly it grew in the early decades of the 20th century; but the city has been in decline for 60 years from over 360,000 in 1960.
Birmingham saw its population drop from 212,328 in the 2010 census to just 200,733 in the 2020 census.
Montgomery has experienced a population decline over the past decade; although it was not as dramatic as in Birmingham. The Census Bureau counted 200,603 residents in Montgomery in 2020, up from 205,593 in 2010. Montgomery actually exceeded its census estimate.
Mobile has grown from the third most populous city in the state in 2010 to the fourth in 2020. Mobile has a population of 187,041 as of the 2020 census compared to 194,577 in 2010.
Mobile, Montgomery and Huntsville all beat their 2020 census estimate figure; while Birmingham came in well below the census estimate.
Despite the disappointing census results, the Birmingham metropolitan area remains the largest in the state, with far more people residing in the circle of towns around Birmingham than in the city of Birmingham itself. Many of these cities have experienced robust growth over the past decade.
“Growth in any city is good for Alabama, good for Birmingham and good for our metro area,” Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said in a statement. “Birmingham is the nucleus of the largest metropolitan population and the economic center of the state. The Magic City continues to evolve as a diverse urban center and a leader in regional growth. Our strength as a medical centre, emerging hub for tech start-ups and logistics hub positions Birmingham for positive growth in the future. We will closely analyze the census data to determine how they arrived at these numbers. As we conduct this analysis, I am committed to pursuing infrastructure, smart renewal and regional cooperation to make Birmingham the best version of itself possible.
The 2020 census will be used to redistribute and redistrict Congressional, State Legislative, and Alabama State School Board districts ahead of the 2022 election. The Legislature is expected to undertake the redistricting during an extraordinary session this fall.