Packing in More People

Austin's booming population growth blows past the rest of Texas

Austin's booming population growth blows past the rest of Texas

Austin downtown skyline bats Congress Bridge
Austin is one of the fastest-growing metros in America. Imagine Austin/Facebook

Unlike rush-hour traffic on I-35 and MoPac, the population growth of the Austin metro area keeps rolling along. Estimates released Thursday, March 23, by the U.S. Census Bureau show Austin ranked ninth among all U.S. metro areas for population growth from July 2015 to July 2016. The region’s population went up by 2.9 percent during the one-year period.

That 2.9 percent growth rate nudged Austin up a couple of notches among the country’s largest metro areas — from No. 33 in 2015 to No. 31 in 2016. Austin skipped past two Ohio metros, Cleveland and Columbus, to claim the No. 31 spot. Kansas City, Missouri, is one place ahead of us at No. 30.

Austin was the only Texas metro area to appear on the list of the country’s top 25 fastest-growing areas, based on percentage increases for 2015-16. The Dallas-Fort Worth area ranked 35th for growth in the percentage category, with San Antonio at No. 36 and Houston at No. 48.

Of the 25 fastest-growing metro areas, only two are larger than Austin — Orlando and Las Vegas. However, neither of those areas grew as much, on a percentage basis, as Austin did.

On July 1, 2016, the Austin metro area had 2,056,405 residents, compared with 1,998,104 a year earlier, the Census Bureau says. During the one-year span, the Austin area’s population climbed by 58,301 residents — roughly equivalent to the number of people living in Pflugerville.

With Thursday’s release of Census Bureau figures, we now know that from 2010 to 2016, the Austin area’s population soared 19 percent. During that time, the region added nearly 330,000 residents; that’s close to the number of people living in the entire city of Corpus Christi.

Much of the 2015-16 population surge resulted from people relocating to the Austin area from elsewhere, as has been the case for a number of years. The Census Bureau says 33,395 people moved here from other U.S. metro areas and 6,878 from other countries during the one-year period. That influx of new arrivals from 2015 to 2016 outpaced the number of births and deaths in the region.

Helping push up the Austin area’s population was growth in Hays County. From 2015 to 2016, the county’s population shot up by almost 5.1 percent, making it the third fastest-growing county in the U.S. based on percentage increases. It was the only one of the Austin area’s five counties to show up on the list of the 10 fastest-growing U.S. counties.

Estimates from the Census Bureau show Hays County’s population surpassed the 200,000 mark in the 2015-16 period. The county gained 9,896 residents, with its population landing at 204,470 on July 1, 2016.

Growth in two other area counties wasn’t shabby, either:

  • Williamson County was the 14th fastest-growing U.S. county during the one-year period, recording a 4.1 percent spike in population. The county added more than 20,000 residents in just one year.
  • Bastrop County saw its population rise 3.1 percent, putting it in 42nd place among the country’s fastest-growing counties. About 2,500 more people called Bastrop County home from 2015 to 2016.

Travis and Caldwell, the other counties that make up the Austin area, didn’t break into the top 100. But they still posted respectable population gains, with Travis at 2.1 percent and Caldwell at 1.8 percent. Travis County’s population swelled by about 24,500, while Caldwell County tacked on about 700 residents.