The Top 10 Wealthiest Counties in Alabama (and Who Lives There)

Written by Jane Jeffries
Published: December 2, 2023
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The United States is one of the most prosperous countries in the world. With its reputation as the “Land of Opportunity,” Americans continue to have the ability to build wealth. In fact, every state has its wealthiest counties where the median annual household income exceeds the national median.

Alabama is no exception. Located in the Southeastern region of the United States, Alabama is the 24th most populous state in the country. Although many associate this state with agriculture, today it has a diverse economy based on a range of areas, such as manufacturing, aerospace, healthcare, education, automotive, and tourism.

Most of the wealthiest counties in Alabama are located near major metropolitan areas. All of them have famous people who live there or grew up there. Here’s a list of the ten most affluent counties.

10. Autauga County

Field of Sunflowers Autauga County Alabama

In the center of Alabama, Autauga is one of the fastest-growing counties in the state.

©James Ranieri/Shutterstock.com

Located in the central part of Alabama, Autauga County is near the capital city of Montgomery.  A friendly community, this county has an estimated population of 59,759 and is one of the fastest-growing counties in Alabama. Autauga County has a median household income of $62,660 and boasts a highly-trained workforce. It is home to three industrial parks and is a leader in the diverse energy field. Wilson Pickett, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991, was born in Autauga County.

9. Jefferson County

Birmingham, Alabama

Minutes from the downtown, the University of Alabama in Birmingham is one of the largest universities in Jefferson County.

©Birmingham/ via Getty Images

Also located in the central part of the state, Jefferson County is the most populous with 672,550 residents. Birmingham is the county seat, and its biggest cities include Homewood, Bessemer, and Mountain Brook. The median household income is $58,330. Jefferson County’s three largest universities include University of Alabama at Birmingham, Samford University, and Jefferson State Community College. The average commute time is less than 25 minutes. Famous people who were born in Birmingham include Courteney Cox and Condoleeza Rice.

8. St. Clair County

A black angus cow and calf graze on a green meadow. Agriculture, cattle breeding.

Beef cattle is only one of the agricultural industries in St. Clair County.

©Nordroden/Shutterstock.com

With a population of 91,103, St. Clair County has two county seats, one in Ashville and one in Pell City. The median household income in this county is $65,070. St. Clair County produces agricultural products such as beef cattle, poultry, tomatoes, and hay. Additionally, lumber and paper mill industries, automotive, and aerospace industries provide employment. Hank Patterson (Gunsmoke, Petticoat Junction, and Green Acres) was born in St. Clair County.

7. Tuscaloosa County

Tuscaloosa. Alabama. USA on a map

The University of Alabama and Mercedes-Benz are the largest employers in Tuscaloosa County.

©SevenMaps/Shutterstock.com

In the northwest-central portion of the state, Tuscaloosa County is the center of healthcare, education, commerce, and industry for this area. With an estimated population of 236,780, it is the fifth most populous county in the state. The University of Alabama, a tier-1 research university, is its largest employer. However, Mercedes-Benz also has an assembly plant that employs over 4,000 people. The median annual income is $57,508. John Stallworth, who played college football for the Alabama A & M Bulldogs and in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers, hails from this county.  

6. Elmore County

Drone Aerial View of Downtown Montgomery Alabama AL Skyline

Elmore County is part of the Montgomery metropolitan area.

©Kevin Ruck/Shutterstock.com

On the central east side of Alabama, Elmore County boasts a median annual income of $67,597. In the last twenty years, this area has transitioned from an agriculture-based economy to manufacturing, including GKN Aerospace, Russell Corporation, Neptune Technologies, and YESAC Alabama Corporation. Its biggest cities include Wetumpka, Deatsville, and Elmore. With an estimated population of 87,977, it is one of the fastest-growing counties in the state. Ben Grubbs, who played football for Auburn University, and later, the Baltimore Ravens, grew up in Eclectic, the fifth largest city in Elmore County.

5. Lee County

Named for General Robert E. Lee, this county has an estimated population of 180,773. Located on the east-central side of the state, its largest cities are Auburn, Opelika, and Smiths Station. Because several well-known commercial and industrial companies, such as Kia, Hyundai, and Briggs and Stratton, thrive here, this county is fast-growing. The median annual income is $57,191, and residents enjoy a high quality of life. Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, who served in the Obama administration, grew up in Auburn.

General Robert E Lee surrender at Appomatox

Lee County is named in honor of this famous Civil War general.

©RockingStock/iStock via Getty Images

4. Limestone County

Cityscape scene of downtown Huntsville, Alabama, from Big Spring Park

Limestone County is considered part of the Huntsville metropolitan area.

©Rob Hainer/Shutterstock.com

Less than 100 miles from Birmingham or Nashville, Limestone County is ideally located for industrial growth and transportation. Athens is its largest city with nearly 30,000 residents. It is home to five Fortune 500 Companies, including Tenneco, Polaris, Steelcase, WestRock, and Target Distribution Center. Limestone County residents enjoy a median income of $70,736 and have an estimated population of 25,406. Brittany Howard (who has been compared to Janis Joplin) grew up in Athens. Howard, the lead singer for Alabama Shakes, has won three Grammys.

3. Madison County

James Madison (1751-1836) who served as the 4th President of the United States. Portrait from James Madison on United States of America Dollars Banknotes. was a founding father of the United States

Madison County was named for President James Madison.

©Prachaya Roekdeethaweesab/Shutterstock.com

As the third most populous county in Alabama, Madison County can be found in the north-central portion of the state. Named for U.S. President James Madison, this county is known for defense, information technology, aerospace, and advanced manufacturing. The annual median income is $71,153. In the last 12 years, it has grown 20.71%, with a current population of 404,155. Tallulah Bankhead, one of the great theater actresses of the 20th century, was born in Huntsville. Her father, William Bankhead, was Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

2. Baldwin County

Pier on Mobile Bay at sunset from Mayday Park in Daphne, Alabama

A great vacation spot, Baldwin County is also a great place to live.

©George Dodd III/Shutterstock.com

In the last decade, Baldwin County has grown 35.31% and has a current population of 246,617. Its median income is $64,346. It is known as a premier vacation spot; Orange Beach, Gulf State Park, and the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo are only some of its attractions. However, it is also a great place to live and work. Industries are attracted to Baldwin County. Novelis, a leading sustainable aluminum solutions provider, is one of its newest industries. This plant will be mostly powered by renewable energy and is helping lead the commitment to create carbon-neutral companies. Foley native Ken Stabler hails from this county. A quarterback for Alabama and for the Oakland Raiders, Stabler was named Most Valuable Player in 1974.

1. Shelby County

Soybean grain in a hands of successful farmer, in a background green soybean field, agricultural concept. Close up of hands full of soybean grain in jute sack

Soybeans and cotton are the main agricultural industry in Shelby County.

©branislavpudar/Shutterstock.com

With an annual median income of $82,592, Shelby County ranks first on the overall wealth index. In the last two decades, its population has increased by 18.62%. Today, 231,406 people reside in this county. Soybeans and cotton continue to be the main agricultural crops. Still, Shelby County has a diverse economic base. Top employers include Alabama Power, Wal-Mart, EBSCO Industries, Inc., Baptist Medical Center Shelby, and Publix. Dabo Swinney, who played for the Crimson Tide, is a Pelham native. He is now the head coach for the Clemson Tigers.

Summary of the Wealthiest Counties in Alabama

Alabama CountyRank
Shelby1
Baldwin2
Madison3
Limestone4
Lee5
Elmore6
Tuscaloosa7
St. Clair8
Jefferson9
Autauga10

Only two of the wealthiest counties (Shelby and Madison) have median annual incomes above the national median. Still, these ten wealthy counties are continuing to attract more industries to the state. You may have thought Alabama was mostly an agricultural state, but it continues to diversify and expand its opportunities. This innovation translates into a higher quality of living and good jobs. The future looks bright for Alabama.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Jane Jeffries is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on wild animals, travel, and historic places. Jane holds a Master's Degree in English from Penn State University, which she earned in 1986. She has also been co-owner of a dinner theater script business since 2005. A resident of Wisconsin, she enjoys biking and hiking in nature.

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