Ah, Alabama — home of Leprechauns, Conecuh sausage, and an obscene amount of Houndstooth and Cat Head (fabric and biscuits). But in addition to all of that and Channing Tatum, it’s also home to something else: the sixth highest rate of income inequality in America, and it’s been on the rise in Alabama for the past few decades.
Even more than poverty alone, income inequality is strongly correlated to violent crime, child well-being, and high school graduation rates. It’s a very real problem for most Alabamians, but there are some cities in the Yellowhammer State where the income inequality rate is shockingly low.
We have the top fifty best at the bottom of the article — scroll down for a description of each, but first, here’s a quick look.
We’ve also got the ten worst cities for income equality in Alabama, but read on to see what else makes these cities special.
We looked to the most recent Census data to get the Gini coefficient for our inequality metric. Pronounced like genie, it’s a statistical measurement of dispersion used to measure income disparities in countries.
A zero would indicate income equality, and a 1 represents perfect inequality. Neither of these is actually a thing in the real world.
Of the 105 cities we studied in Alabama with a population over 5,000, the lowest Gini was a .31 and the highest was a .58 — to give you some perspective, Alabama’s Gini is the sixth highest in the country at 47.2, which is a little above the US average of 46.1.
And in case you were wondering, these are the cities in Alabama with the worst income inequality rates:
Here are the cities in the Heart of Dixie that buck the trend. Remember, a lower score is better.
Gini coefficient: .312
With the expansion of Birmingham, Helena has become sort of a suburb of Birmingham — and it is just a pretty fantastic small town to live in. It has the eighth-lowest crime rate per capita in the US and has consistently been ranked as one of the best places to live in America.
It also has the lowest Gini coefficient in the state of Alabama, which is particularly interesting given that it’s somewhat of a suburb. The median income for a household in the city was $62,908 and it’s unemployment rate is around 5 percent — all of this indicates is that it’s a stable community, and a great place to raise a family, with a rock-bottom poverty rate.
Gini coefficient: .324
Another city close to Birmingham, this small town is benefiting from the larger city’s economy — and is also one of the fastest-growing cities in Alabama, tripling its population in recent years.
And Calera can use it. Unlike Helena, it’s got a nearly 10 percent family poverty rate, with the median income for a family sitting at $42,885. Income equality here may mean that people are struggling at the same rate — but with the recent growth that Calera has seen and its small-town feel, it’s likely that the people of Calera are going to raise each other up.
Gini coefficient: .327
Another beautiful small town on the outskirts of Birmingham, Pinson is home to a beautiful series of parks — and the Butterbean Festival!
The median income for a family was $48,707, which is robust for a town that just recently incorporated with a population just over 7,000.
Gini coefficient: .328
This idyllic riverside town, complete with a lighthouse, epitomizes Southern charm. Southside is a relatively small, but progressive, area that recently incorporated and supports a robust local economy.
It manages to maintain a very high level of civic engagement and community involvement, as well as a 2 percent family poverty rate median income for a family sitting at $58,427, this is clearly one of the best places to make a home in the state.
Gini coefficient: .348
City Description: Chelsea is one of the fastest growing cities in one of the fastest growing counties in Alabama, and its economy is strong enough to shoot the family median income up to $72,206.
And it’s also home to one of the cutest small town Christmas parades out there, just saying.
Gini coefficient: .358
City Description: Also known as the Good Neighbor City, with a population of about 10,000, Pleasant Grove offers the best “small-town” life quality but within only a 25 minute drive of Alabama’s largest metropolitan area.
Its high school also has one of the highest graduation rates in the country — this is a community “rich with uniqueness for tradition and family values,” in the words of its mayor.
Gini coefficient: .361
City Description: Pike Road barely makes our minimum population threshold. The young town now has 1,933 households as of the latest census, and 1,606 families, who have relative income equality and also voted nearly unanimously to split away from a neighboring city twenty years ago.
Despite the growing pains that a young municipality faces, it’s maintained its character amidst the recent and rapid growth.
Gini coefficient: .362
City Description: Nestled in the middle of Baldwin County, Robertsdale is a quickly growing city with a small town atmosphere — yet it offers perks that you usually find in larger cities, like movies in the park and city-sponsored utilities.
Robertsdale is growing both with industry and residential dwellings. A good hometown atmosphere is evident here and a growing number of people are calling it home.
Gini coefficient: .371
City Description: Alabaster is somewhat of an outlier in this list, as it’s more of a mid-sized city with its population well over 31,000 people. It’s got a high median income and low poverty rate, making it all the more impressive that its residents also enjoy relatively equal income dispersion.
Gini coefficient: .373
Finally on our list is Fultondale, another small community in the middle of an expansion boom due to its desirability for families.
Fultondale is also experiencing strong growth as a result of commercial development and the accompanying residential developments. I now features a Target, and upon completion of Interstate 22, Fultondale will become the fourth Alabama city “to be directly served by more than one two-digit interstate highway,” according to its Wikipedia page — quite the honor.
That’s all for this one, but there’s more to see here at Zippia.
Are you looking for a booming industry in Alabama? Find out which Alabama jobs are growing as fast as these young cities.
Or are you looking for something a bit smaller to match your small town? Find out which small colleges in Alabama would put you in the best position for jobs upon graduation.