Driving the majority of the metro's growth are cities north of Austin in Williamson County — Georgetown, Round Rock, Cedar Park and others, according to new data. NICK SIMONITE

Austin Business Journal writes, "About eight out of every 10 people added to the Austin metro during a recent 12-month period settled outside of Travis County — which roughly mirrors the Austin city limits. Travis County added an estimated 7,400 new residents in the second half of 2022 and the first half of 2023, which is not far off of what Oklahoma City can expect for annual population growth these days.

It's perhaps a sobering comparison for many Austinites and especially Texas Longhorn fans, but a deeper dig into the latest U.S. Census Bureau data reveals what may be a more disturbing fact: More people are moving away from Travis County than to it. If it wasn't for babies, Travis County would be shrinking.

Travis was the only county in the metro to have negative net migration. About 2,400 more people moved out of Travis County in 2023 than moved into it, a figure offset by a natural increase of nearly 10,000. Some will blame the city's inability to bring its zoning standards to a big-city level — affordable housing options are scarce and many are looking to the suburbs for a lower cost of living — although recent gains have been made for developers who want to make room for additional people.

The fact of the matter is, when most people move to "Austin" that usually means a suburb of Austin. In Williamson County, for example, almost 82% of the population gain was the result of positive net migration.

The suburbs — that's where the action is. When they're taken into account, the five-county metro added more than 50,000 people between July 2022 and July 2023 — a 2% increase that brought the Austin area population to 2.47 million. That makes Austin the 26th-largest metro in the United States, according to the city. Before the pandemic, the Austin metro was No. 33.

Driving the majority of the metro's growth are cities north of Austin in Williamson County — Georgetown, Round Rock, Cedar Park and others.

Nearly 67% — one out of three — of the metro's total population increase was attributable to positive net migration, or people moving into the area, rather than to a natural increase from births, according to the data. That means an average of 91 people moved to the Austin metro each day during the 12 months studied. That's down from 110 daily newcomers in 2014.

About a third of the newcomers moved here from international locations, according to the Census data. The rest of the transplants came from other areas of the United States, including other areas of Texas.

“Historically, the Austin metro area receives about 50% of domestic migrants from other parts of Texas and about 20% from out of state. When we receive additional data on migration flows, we’ll have a better understanding of the number and origins of domestic migrants to the Austin metro area,” Austin Demographer Lila Valencia said in an announcement.

The Austin area broke a 12-year streak as the fastest growing large metro area in the country, according to that same announcement.

Williamson County far and away drove the metro's growth as usual, gaining a total of almost 25,000 people last year. In other words, for every 10 new residents in the metro, five were in the county just north of Austin that has been on a tear in terms of economic development in recent years. The huge new Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. chip plant is that economy's latest centerpiece.

Southwest of Austin, Hays County has been experiencing big population gains as well, driven by factors such as Tesla Inc.'s growing impact on the suburbs. Hays added more than 11,000 people in a year, accounting for about 23% of the region's new residents. That bested Travis County's share of 15% of the metro's new residents. Bastrop County's population increased by about 4,400, for close to 9% of the growth, while Caldwell County's climbed by about 2,000, accounting for 4% of the growth.

Overall, the Austin metro ranked seventh among U.S. metros, in terms of population gains over that time.

The Dallas and Houston metros were No. 1 and No. 2. The Dallas metro, which includes Fort Worth, added about 152,600 people, bringing its total population to about 8.1 million, and the Houston metro added about 140,000, bringing its total population to about 7.5 million.

The San Antonio metro, which includes New Braunfels, ranked ninth nationally. It grew by about 48,000 residents over the one-year period, for a total population of about 2.7 million.

Our partners at KXAN New have several graphics illustrating Texas' and Central Texas' growth in this story.

Austin city officials said the new Census data is crucial in determining how the federal government proportionately distributes billions of dollars in grants and program funding for social services, community development, and the construction of schools, roads, and hospitals. Data from the Census also play a central role in redrawing boundaries for representative districts for the U.S. Congress, Texas Legislature and Austin City Council districts. 

According to the city of Austin's announcement: "The slower growth rate in the region can be attributed to historically low domestic migration. Domestic migration (migrants moving into the metro area from other parts of Texas and other U.S. states) is the lowest it has been in the past decade. Even though international migration was the highest it has been in more than 10 years and natural increase remained relatively consistent, the declines in domestic migration resulted in a slower growth rate for the Austin metro area.""


Source: Austin Business Journal 

Written by: Bob Sechler & Colin Pope

Published: March 15, 2024

Posted by Grossman & Jones Group on


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