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State deaths outnumber births since 2020 census

By Brendan Kirby

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    Alabama (WALA) — Deaths outnumbered births in 73 percent of American counties – including in all but seven in Alabama – since the 2020 census, according to new data released by the Census Bureau Thursday.

The dramatic figures underscore long-term trends toward fewer births, along with the short-term impact of COVID-19, according to experts.

Statewide in Alabama, deaths outnumbered births by more than 11,000 between the census date of April 1, 2020, and July 1 of last year.

“Certainly, we know that some of this is related to COVID,” said Dr. Karen Landers, the assistant state health officer.

Landers noted that more than 9,000 Alabama residents have died from the disease since the start of the pandemic. Preliminary figures for the Alabama Department of Public Health indicate that 68,626 people died from all causes in 2021, up from 64,799 the year before. Landers said that exceeded births in both of years, and average of roughly 58,000.

“So again, more deaths than births,” she told FOX10 News. “And we do feel that COVID has certainly had an impact on that.”

Demographers have noted for decades that American women have been having fewer babies, and Landers agreed that is a factor, as well.

“We do know that overall birth rates are declining in the nation,” she said.

But Landers added that pandemic-related deaths accelerated the so-called natural population decline.

“You know, the message that I would have in looking at this data is that we really do not need to lose any more Alabamians to COVID,” she said.

The natural population decline hit every county in southwest Alabama. Despite that, thanks to people moving in, Baldwin County experienced the biggest numerical population gain of any county in the state. Between the 2020 census date and July 1 of last year, Baldwin had a net gain of 7,527 residents – bringing the total to 239,294. That edged out the 7,058 net gain for Madison County.

On a percentage basis, Baldwin’s 3.2 percent growth rate trailed only Limestone County’s 3.8 percent rate.

Every other county in the Mobile area posted a net population decline. Mobile County’s decline of 1,736 trailed only Jefferson County, which had a net loss of 6,901.

Nationally, there has been a trend toward people moving out of high-population counties to medium and smaller ones, according to Christine Hartley, assistant division chief for estimates and projections at the Census Bureau’s Population Division. That resulted in overall population increases for a majority of counties, the data show.

“The patterns we’ve observed in domestic migration shifted in 2021,” Hartley said in a news release. “Even though over time we’ve seen a higher number of counties with natural decrease and net international migration continuing to decline, in the past year, the contribution of domestic migration counteracted these trends so there were actually more counties growing than losing population.”

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