People Are Fleeing Alabama. Here’s Where They’re Plotting to Move to

Alabama, according to the US Census Bureau, has experienced a decline in population in recent years, losing over 13,000 residents between 2021 and 2022 and ranking 10th in out-migration rates. The question arises: where are these departing individuals headed, and what motivates their departure?

Reasons for Leaving Alabama

Various factors may contribute to the exodus from Alabama, with some of the primary ones being:

Economic Opportunities: Alabama’s median household income, at $51,734, is among the lowest in the nation, coupled with a relatively high unemployment rate of 5.8% as of November 2023. Many Alabamians may seek better employment prospects and higher wages elsewhere.

  • Quality of Life: Alabama ranks unfavorably in key quality-of-life indicators, including health, education, environment, and infrastructure. According to the US News and World Report, the state places 49th in healthcare, 45th in education, 48th in natural environment, and 44th in infrastructure. Issues such as high obesity rates, limited educational funding, poor air and water quality, and insufficient infrastructure contribute to a lower quality of life.
  • Politics and Culture: As one of the most conservative states, Alabama’s political landscape, dominated by Republicans and marked by strong religious influence, may alienate individuals who identify as liberal, progressive, or non-religious, according to the Pew Research Center.

Destinations for Alabama Emigrants

The top 10 states that received the most migrants from Alabama between 2021 and 2022, as reported by the US Census Bureau, include:

  • Georgia (17,892)
  • Florida (16,779)
  • Tennessee (14,215)
  • Texas (10,509)
  • North Carolina (6,614)
  • Virginia (5,621)
  • California (4,973)
  • Mississippi (4,957)
  • South Carolina (4,696)
  • Colorado (4,145)

These states offer advantages such as:

  • More Economic Opportunities: Higher median household incomes, lower unemployment rates, and diverse economies characterize many of these states. For example, Georgia boasts Atlanta, a major business and technology hub, while Florida is known for tourism, retirement, and aerospace.
  • Better Quality of Life: Improved healthcare, education, environment, and infrastructure are common in these states. Tennessee, for instance, has a lower obesity rate, higher high school graduation rate, and more national parks than Alabama.
  • More Political and Cultural Diversity: These states often feature more balanced political systems and tolerant cultures. Swing states like Florida and North Carolina, evolving political landscapes in Texas and Georgia, and progressive values in California and Colorado provide more diversity.

The Future of Alabama

Despite challenges, Alabama shows signs of hope and potential for improvement, including:

  • Growing Industries: Sectors like automotive, aerospace, biotechnology, and agriculture are creating jobs and attracting investments. In 2022, the state secured over $7 billion in capital investment and 13,000 new jobs from major companies like Toyota, Mazda, Airbus, Boeing, and Amazon.
  • Educational Initiatives: Initiatives like the Alabama Literacy Act and the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative aim to enhance education accessibility and quality. These efforts focus on improving students’ reading and math skills, increasing STEM graduates, and providing affordable pathways to higher education and workforce training.
  • Cultural Attractions: Alabama’s cultural offerings, such as the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, contribute to its appeal. The state’s rich history, particularly in the civil rights movement, and a vibrant music scene add to its cultural allure.

Alabama may not be the most sought-after state, but it possesses unique charms and opportunities. Whether individuals decide to stay or leave, Alabama remains an integral part of their identity and narrative.


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