Editor's Note: Alabama saw a 145-percent increase in its Latino population between 2000 and 2010, the second-highest Latino growth rate in the nation, after South Carolina. The two states that saw the biggest increase in Latinos have enacted two of the strictest immigration laws in the country.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The song 'Sweet Home Alabama' has a special resonance for the thousands of Hispanics who have made this state their home in the past 10 years. Although they only account for 3.9% of the total population according to the 2010 Census, the number of Latinos living in Alabama increased 145% in the last decade, from 75,830 in 2000 to 185,602 in 2010.
"We were a little surprised to know that Alabama was the second fastest growing state in the country. However, we believe that the census figure was a little low. We believe (the actual number of Latinos in Alabama) is close to 200,000," said Isabel Rubio, founder and director of Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama (HICA).
The purchasing power of Latinos in Alabama in 2009 was $3 billion, an increase of 1025% according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.
The largest population increase occurred in the counties of Tallapoosa, with a 331% increase, and Shelby, which grew 297% since 2000. But the county with the most Latinos is still Jefferson, with 25,488 Hispanic residents, followed by Madison in the north with 15,404.
In Alabama, the majority of Latinos work in construction, gardens and services, and in chicken factories in the north. More than 50% of Latinos in Alabama are Mexican.
In 2010, undocumented immigrants in Alabama paid $25,769,851 in personal taxes, $5,825,919 in property taxes and $98,709,564 in sales tax, according to the Immigration Policy Center.
ALABAMA IN NUMBERS
TOTAL STATE POPULATION: 4,779,736
STATE’S HISPANIC POPULATION: 185,602
PERCENTAGE OF HISPANIC WOMEN AND MEN: 46.6% - 53.4%
AVERAGE AGE OF HISPANIC POPULATION: 23.7
US BORN HISPANICS: 79,583
FOREIGN BORN HISPANICS: 68,696
NATURALIZED FOREIGN BORN HISPANICS: 8.266
SPEAK A LANGUAGE OTHER THAN ENGLISH AT HOME: 73.6%
SPEAK ONLY ENGLISH AT HOME: 26.4%
AVERAGE HOUSEHOLD INCOME: $33,825
PERCENTAGE OF HISPANICS WITHOUT HEALTH INSURANCE: 39.4%
PERCENTAGE OF HISPANIC FAMILIES LIVING IN POVERTY: 29.4%
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