Alabama (AL): Info About Alabama's Colleges, Schools and Economy

Alabama has earned the nickname 'Heart of Dixie,' based on its geographic location. This Southern state has nearly 70 public and private nonprofit colleges and universities.

Information about Alabama

In 2015, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the population of Alabama at almost 4.9 million. Nearly 27 percent of Alabama residents identified as black or African American, as of 2014, which was twice the national average. Approximately 66 percent of residents were white, while just over four percent identified as Hispanic; the latter figure was well below the national average of 17 percent.

Visitors to Alabama can retrace the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, explore the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville or peruse the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery. Mobile hosts the country's oldest Mardi Gras celebration, while Dauphin Island offers unique opportunities for bird watching. Orange Beach and Gulf Shores feature white sand beaches, and Fairhope is a mecca for shoppers, with its abundance of boutiques and art galleries.

Higher Education

The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa is the largest postsecondary school in the state. In 2016, U.S. News & World Report ranked this public school 96th among national universities. Auburn University, the state's second largest public school, was ranked 102nd that same year.

U.S. News also recognized Samford University in Birmingham and Spring Hill College in Mobile as the fourth and 21st best regional universities in the South, respectively. Tuskegee University ranked 10th among regional colleges in the South, in addition to being #5 among historically black colleges and universities as of 2016.

John C. Calhoun State Community College in Tanner, Jefferson State Community College in Birmingham and Gadsden State Community College in Gadsden are among the state's more than two dozen nonprofit 2-year schools.

Economy and Employment

For the years 2010-2014, the median household income in Alabama was $43,511, which was significantly lower than the national median of $53,482. More than 19 percent of Alabama residents lived below poverty level at that time, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

As of April 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, trade, transportation, and utilities employed almost 383,000 people in Alabama. Government employed nearly 376,000 people, while manufacturing employed about 260,000 people.

Top employers in the state include Alabama Power Co. in Birmingham, the Huntsville Hospital System, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base. Other large employers include Children's Health System in Birmingham and the State of Alabama.

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