The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that Alabama grew by about 12,751 people last year.
That’s less than a sellout crowd at Coleman Coliseum where Alabama plays basketball.
Census Bureau estimates show 45 of Alabama’s 67 counties lost population between 2017 and 2018. And 43 Alabama counties saw more deaths than births.
When I was a young man, Alabama had 8 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
We now have 7, but with reapportionment looming after the 2020 Census, it’s projected we will lose another seat—bringing us down to only 6.
This is a result of a number of factors including a high death rate probably because of an older population, but people are just not moving to Alabama.
According to al.com, “Gov. Kay Ivey’s solution is to launch “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.”
Alabama politicians want to manipulate the numbers rather than to improve them.
Alabama not well educated
Not only are we not increasing population—but as a state, we’re not well educated.
U.S. News and World Report ranked Alabama 50th in education.
But with a little bit of creativity, we could solve both our lack of education and growth.
What are others doing?
Maine offers student debt relief to graduates who live and work there
Students who graduate from college in Maine or from any other state, but live and work in Maine, can subtract their total student loan payments over the year from their state income tax liability. If a college graduate owes Maine $2,000 in state income taxes and pays $1,700 in student loans, the graduate would only owe the state $300.
It’s even better if the graduate has a science, technology, engineering or mathematics degree. The graduate could actually get a check from Maine if the amount paid for the student loan exceeds his or her state income tax liability for the year. If an engineer paid $2,000 in student loans and owes $1,500 in state income taxes, the graduate would receive $500 from the state.
Tennessee offers free community college for all adults
In 2014 Tennessee lawmakers passed legislation to make tuition and fees free for recent high school graduates to enroll in community college or technical schools. It was recently expanded to include any adult who doesn’t already have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
“We want to send a clear message that wherever you fall on life’s path, you have the opportunity to earn an education beyond high school,” Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam said. “By 2025, at least half the jobs in our state will require a college degree or certificate. Tennessee will lead in creating highly-skilled jobs if we make sure that Tennesseans are ready for those jobs…”
Tulsa pays remote workers to move there
Then there’s this creative idea from Tulsa.
“Looking to draw tech workers, creatives and other digital nomads, Tulsa, Oklahoma has created Tulsa Remote, a special program that offers $10,000 grants to eligible applicants who commit to living in the city for a year and working remotely.”
“Eligible workers receive access to additional benefits, including a co-working space that comes with complimentary snacks and beverages, as well as monthly meetups and workshops with fellow members and Tulsa entrepreneurs.”
Alabama low household income
It’s true that unemployment is low in Alabama, but according to USA Today, Alabama ranks 45th in average household income.
Where would Alabama get the money to fund these programs?
Our state has given tens of millions of dollars to companies to move here—we could invest those millions in ourselves.
Other cities and states invest in education for their citizens or to recruit educated workers while we in Alabama want to manipulate the numbers.
Alabama doesn’t have to be stagnant and poorly educated–all we need is a little bit of creative thinking.
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David Sher is Co-Founder of AmSher Compassionate Collections. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).
Invite David to speak to your group about a better Birmingham. firstname.lastname@example.org