The expansion of housing units in any U.S. city is usually a sign of an increasing population and an improving economy. According to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau, two counties in Alabama are experiencing just such growth.
Russell and Madison Counties are among the top 100 counties throughout the U.S. in terms of an increase in housing units between 2010 and mid-2014, according to the new report issued Thursday, May 21.
In this case, correlation is equal to causation: Of the counties listed in the report, those that saw 2% or more in an increase in housing were the same ones that topped the U.S. Census list for population growth.
Russell County increased housing by 2,195 units between 2010 and 2014, an 8.9% increase. It also ranked 31st in counties with at least 5,000 units.
In the same period, Russell County’s population also experienced a 12.6% increase.
Madison County added more housing units than Russell County — 8,005 of them, to reach a total of 154,452 in July 2014. However, it only ranked 93rd and saw a 5.5% growth rate; the population growth ranked sixth in the state of Alabama as of last year.
The news could signal a change in the economy as more people begin to buy homes in Alabama.
For instance, more people may turn to their local furniture stores, which generated about $101.41 billion in 2013 alone. Many of these establishments offer interior design advice, and can guide home buyers toward current trends, like using reclaimed wood from old buildings, furniture, bridges and other structures.
That economic growth also puts money in state residents’ pockets.
The most recently calculated Alabama Housing Affordability Index was 236.1 for the first quarter of 2015. This means that a family in Alabama with the state median income of $55,000 has at least 2.36 times as much income needed for a loan on a median priced home (usually around $130,000 to $145,000 for the state).
However, researchers like Viktoria Riiman, who works for the University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research, said that housing growth isn’t always an indicator of population growth.
“You cannot ever say how much population grows because of housing units,” she said. “It’s basically inventory.”