Population Pop

Population inside Austin city limits predicted to explode past 1 million mark in 2020

Population inside Austin city limits to explode past 1 million in 2020

Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin
The population will hit 1 million by 2020. Photo by David Hensley/Getty Images

Austin is poised to join an elite club: U.S. cities with at least 1 million residents. A brand-new estimate from Ryan Robinson, the City of Austin’s demographer, shows the current population stood at 981,035 on January 1 — less than 20,000 residents short of 1 million. If current growth trends continue, Robinson predicts the population inside the city limits will cross the million milestone sometime in 2020.

In climbing to a population of 1 million, Austin would become one of just 11 U.S. cities with at least that many residents. Three of the cities already in that category are in Texas: Houston (2,312,717 residents as of July 1, 2017); San Antonio (1,511,946); and Dallas (1,341,075). With a July 2017 population of 874,168, Fort Worth isn’t far behind.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimated Austin had 950,715 residents as of July 1, 2017, making it the 11th largest city in the country.

While Robinson believes the 1-million-resident mark is certainly within Austin’s grasp, he notes that the milestone will arrive as the city experiences a “rapidly falling” share of total population growth in the five-county metro area.

In 2017, Robinson says, the city’s portion of the entire region's population growth dropped to an all-time low of 23 percent. From July 1, 2016, to July 1, 2017, the Census Bureau estimates the Austin metro area grew by more than 55,000 people, with the city proper gaining just over 12,500 of them.

In terms of big-city growth, Austin ranked 10th during that period for the total number of new residents and 11th for percentage growth, the bureau says. Meanwhile, suburban Hays County ranked fourth for percentage growth from 2016 to 2017 among U.S. counties with at least 10,000 residents.

“These figures indicate that Austin continues to be a rapidly growing city within the framework of the country’s largest cities, but they are a far cry from when Austin dominated the rankings during the earlier part of the decade,” Robinson tells CultureMap. 

Still, the Austin metro area continues to be among the fastest-growing major metros in the U.S., with a population pickup of 2.7 percent from 2016 to 2017. As of July 1, 2017, the Austin area was home to 2,115,827 residents, according to the Census Bureau, a number Robinson estimates increased to 2,215,727 as of January 1, 2019.

“Without question, the slowdown in population growth for the city while the pace of growth for the entire metro remains rather stable is the result of much more expensive housing within the city than what used to exist just a few years ago,” Robinson says. “Moreover, there are thousands and thousands of reasonably priced housing units being created across outside the city of Austin.”

In November, the Austin Board of Realtors reported the median price of a single-family home in the city of Austin had jumped 5 percent in just one year, landing at $374,900.

Nonetheless, even inside the city limits, housing in the Austin area remains relatively affordable from a national perspective, Robinson says.

The median price of an existing single-family home in the Austin metro area stood at $318,200 in the third quarter of 2018, according to the National Association of Realtors, compared with $266,900 for the U.S. as a whole. By contrast, the median price during the same quarter was:

  • $1.3 million in the San Jose, California, metro area.
  • $989,000 in the San Francisco metro area.
  • $628,900 in the Los Angeles metro area.
  • $502,800 in the Seattle metro area.

“As long as we continue to hire much of our tech workforce from the much more expensive coastal markets, our housing will remain relatively affordable, even if it continues to get more expensive,” Robinson says.