Nearly 30,000 people moved to Alabama from Illinois since 2010, reversing the flow of the Great Migration and marking the largest surge from the Rust Belt to the Yellowhammer State in recent years.
Meanwhile, only half as many went the opposite direction. According to U.S. Census migration data, 29,421 people moved here from Illinois between 2010 and 2018, including 3,310 arrivals just last year. And Alabama sent just 15,550 people to Illinois.
The net gain of 13,000 Illinoisans is the second largest for Alabama from any state, second only to neighboring Georgia. Alabama also saw a net gain of more than 10,000 new residents from New York and more than 5,000 from New Jersey.
Illinois is an interesting case study for Alabama to watch. Both states are at risk of losing a congressional seat following the 2020 Census, and while Alabama’s population is slowly growing, Illinois is losing people.
Since 2010, Illinois is the fastest shrinking state in the country in terms of total population, according to U.S. Census estimates. In fact, Illinois lost nearly an identical number of people as Alabama gained over that span. Illinois’s population dropped by 102,086. Alabama’s grew by 102,573.
Illinois may be leading the pack among Rust Belt states feeding Alabama, but people from several other Midwest and Northeast states are moving to Alabama. Most are just trading thousands of people with Alabama, not showing as big of a one-way flow.
More than 16,000 people moved here from Indiana since 2010, and Alabama sent back 12,000. Ohio and Michigan have each sent more than 20,000 people to Alabama since 2010. More than 14,000 moved to Alabama from Pennsylvania. But Alabama sent a lot of people to each those states in exchange.
Of course, Alabama swaps tens of thousands of residents each year with its Southern neighbors, especially Georgia. Nearly 200,000 people moved from Georgia to Alabama between 2010 and 2018, making Georgia the number one feeder state for Alabama. And Alabama sent back about 160,000, leading a net gain for the Yellowhammer State of more than 40,000 people.
Florida trails only Georgia in terms of raw numbers. Florida sent 130,000 people, Tennessee sent 80,000, followed, interestingly, by Texas. More than 61,000 Texans have moved to Alabama since 2010 – a higher number than nearby Mississippi. Yet Texas is the fastest-growing state in the country, according to Census data, and more Alabamians left for Texas and Mississippi over that same period.
Other regions, such as New England and the upper Midwest, see hardly any movement to or from Alabama.
Vermont, for instance, sent fewer than 500 people to Alabama in nine years – the lowest number over that time frame in the country. Even fewer Alabamians moved to Vermont during that time.
If Illinois is a sign of people moving from the Rust Belt to Alabama, then Vermont is a sign of New Englanders having little connection with the Yellowhammer State. Four of the five states with the lowest total movers to Alabama are in New England.
Big Sky Country is similar. States in that region, specifically Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and South Dakota also trade very few people with Alabama.
In all, more than 1 million people moved to Alabama from another U.S. state, including Washington, DC and Puerto Rico, between 2010 and 2018. Around 926,000 moved away. That’s good for a net gain of roughly 78,000 people and enough to help keep Alabama growing, unlike Illinois.