Population Explosion

2 Austin suburbs are the fastest-growing cities in the U.S., says Census Bureau

These 2 Austin suburbs are the fastest-growing cities in the U.S.

Blue Hole Georgetown
Blue Hole in Georgetown, which grew faster from July 2020 to July 2021 (10.5 percent) than any other U.S. city with at least 50,000 residents.  Photo courtesy of Georgetown CVB

Population growth in two Austin suburbs is exploding. Estimates released Thursday, May 26 by the U.S. Census Bureau rank Georgetown and Leander Nos. 1 and 2, respectively for population growth from July 2020 to July 2021.

Georgetown grew faster (at 10.5 percent) than any other U.S. city with at least 50,000 residents during the time period. At that rate, the population of Georgetown (75,420 as of July 2021) is on track to double in just seven years, the bureau says. Leander's population rose 10.1 percent during the one-year period, winding up at 67,124.

In a news release, Georgetown Mayor Josh Schroeder says his city “continues to attract new residents for the same reasons many of us moved here — good jobs, safe neighborhoods, and unbeatable parks and events.”

“But all those things may not be as important as the sense of community you feel when families gather on a Saturday afternoon on our Courthouse lawn or dance in the street at our annual Red Poppy Festival,” Schroeder adds. “People don’t just move here: They fall in love with this town.”

Population growth is nothing new for Georgetown. It was the seventh-fastest-growing U.S. city in 2019 and 2020, the sixth-fastest-growing in 2018, the fifth-fastest-growing in 2017, the fastest-growing in 2016, and the second-fastest-growing in 2015.

Georgetown and Leander are the only cities with 50,000 residents or more to experience population growth of at least 10 percent from July 2020 to July 2021, according to the Census Bureau.

Growth in those two Williamson County suburbs partly reflects the desire of some homebuyers to avoid higher-priced Travis County. In April, the median home price in Travis County stood at $625,000, compared with $510,000 in Williamson County, according to the Austin Board of Realtors.

Elsewhere in Texas, several cities put up impressive numbers for population growth from 2020 to 2021, according to the Census Bureau:

  • Fifth-ranked New Braunfels (San Antonio), 8.3 percent.
  • 18th-ranked Conroe (Houston), 4.5 percent.
  • 23rd-ranked Denton (Dallas-Fort Worth), 4.1 percent.
  • 26th-ranked Frisco (Dallas-Fort Worth), 3.9 percent.
  • 28th-ranked Texas City (Houston), 3.8 percent.

Meanwhile, the populations of Texas’ five largest cities hardly budged or even shrank from 2020 to 2021:

  • Fort Worth, 1.4 percent.
  • San Antonio, 0.9 percent.
  • Austin, 0.1 percent.
  • Houston, -0.5 percent.
  • Dallas, -1.1 percent.

Houston and Dallas were among nine of the country’s 15 largest cities to lose population during the pandemic, the Census Bureau says.

Despite the low percentage, San Antonio managed to post the biggest numeric growth during the one-year period, adding 13,626 residents. Fort Worth came in third (12,916), with Frisco at No. 8 (7,933 residents), New Braunfels at No. 9 (7,538), Georgetown at No. 10 (7,193), Leander at No. 12 (6,159), Denton at No. 14 (5,844), and McKinney at No. 15 (5,568).

From 2020 to 2021, three Texas cities surpassed the 50,000-resident mark: Kyle (51,789), Burleson (51,618), and Little Elm (51,042).

Lloyd Potter, the Texas state demographer, says the new Census Bureau data offers “a first look at the influence of the pandemic on local population dynamics.”

While the data doesn’t reflect precisely how the population of Texas cities has shifted — namely births minus deaths and move-ins minus moveouts — “we do know that both Dallas and Harris counties experienced net out-migration from 2020 to 2021, and suburban ring counties grew dramatically from positive domestic migration,” Potter tells CultureMap. “Thus, cities in suburban ring counties were growing from people moving from urban cores to suburban areas, and from people moving from other parts of Texas and other states.”

Not every resident of Texas is thrilled about the state’s continued population expansion. The latest University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll, released in early May, shows 40 percent of Texans believe population growth has been bad for the state. It was the first time in the poll’s history that the percentage of Texans who viewed population growth as negative outnumbered the percentage of Texans who viewed population growth as positive.

“Amidst increasing economic worries, the population growth that has become a frequent bragging point for political leaders and boosters is now viewed negatively or with uncertainty by a majority of Texas voters,” the pollsters say.