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New study details how Austin falls short when it comes to diversity

New study details how Austin falls short when it comes to diversity

Auditorium shores Austin skyline
A new study ranks Houston as the country’s 10th most ethnically diverse large city. Photo by Alicia Vega

When it comes to diversity, Austin is falling short of many U.S. cities — including those in Texas. 

To come up its ranking, WalletHub measured three key indicators of ethnic diversity: language, ethnicity and race, and birthplace. Among 501 U.S. cities, Austin ranks 73rd overall and sixth in Texas, according to the study, released February 11 by personal finance website WalletHub. 

While Austin didn't rank particularly high in the WalletHub study, it did show up on a recent list of the country’s most racially diverse metro areas. In the Bloomberg news service’s 2018 ranking of racial diversity among the 100 largest U.S. metros, Austin stood at No. 19., behind DFW at the No. 11 spot, Houston bested both of those areas, though, landing at No. 5.

Austin also didn’t perform as well in a racial and ethnic index compiled by U.S. News & World Report. The index shows the racial and ethnic diversity of Austin declining by 0.10 percent from 2010 to 2018. The decrease was 2.6 percent in San Antonio, 3.4 percent in Dallas, and 1.2 percent in Houston, the index shows.

Houston, a city that prides itself on its diversity — and rightfully so — ranks as the country’s 10th most ethnically diverse large city and the No. 1 in Texas, according to WalletHub.

This finding differs from a study by Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research that found Houston was the most ethnically and racially diverse metro area in the U.S. as of 2010. Why the disparity? The WalletHub study looked at data for the city of Houston, while the Kinder Institute study examined data for the entire Houston metro area.

The new finding also differs from a broader WalletHub study published in April 2019. In that study, Houston was crowned the most diverse city in the U.S., based on socioeconomic, cultural, economic, household, and religious diversity. Ethnic diversity is only one component of that ranking.

“Houston is the most diverse city in the United States. But diversity alone is not enough — we must always strive to be more inclusive,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeted in December 2019. “As your mayor, I know that diversity and inclusivity are what makes us strong. And I will always work to build one complete Houston.”

However you slice it, Houston leads the pack in Texas for ethnic and racial diversity. Here’s how other major cities in the Lone Star State fare in the new WalletHub study:

  • Arlington, No. 38
  • Plano, No. 46
  • Dallas, No. 47
  • Fort Worth, No. 62
  • San Antonio, No. 136

The diversity picture was brighter in other Texas cities included in the U.S. New & World Report index, which measured racial and ethnic diversity in U.S. cities with at least 300,000 residents. Arlington saw its racial and ethnic diversity rise 3.6 percent from 2010 to 2018, with Fort Worth at 1.8 percent.