Source: : Internal Revenue Service, Migration Data
Forbes ranked Austin as the fastest growing large city in the nation in 2016. Austin has held this top spot every year since 2010, except for 2015 when the city fell second to Houston. The Forbes ranking is based on population, employment, income and other data for the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which includes Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson Counties. Half of the cities on the Forbes “Top 10” list were located in Texas.
From 2000 to 2014, the population of the five-county Austin MSA increased by 56%, with a majority of growth (63%) occurring in areas outside Austin’s city limits. If migration continues at the rate it occurred from 2000 to 2010, the Texas State Data Center projects that the population of the Austin metro will top 5 million by 2050, with Travis and Williamson Counties each reaching a population of about 2 million.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 62% of Travis County’s population increase in 2014 was due to net migration, or new residents moving into the county. Governing Magazine’s review of the Internal Revenue Service’s Migration Data shows that Travis County’s net migration increased by 200% from 2013 to 2014, with 76% of in-migration coming from outside the state of Texas. With this influx of newcomers has come a significant increase in wealth for Travis County, amplifying many of the region’s issues surrounding affordability and equity. In 2015, Governing Magazine ranked Travis County as second in the nation for counties experiencing the greatest increase in wealth due to net migration. An unsettling parallel to another local ranking that made news in the same year, when the Martin Prosperity Institute released a study that ranked Austin as the most economically segregated city in the nation.
While more people lived in Travis County in 2014 than in the other four MSA counties combined, the rate of growth in surrounding counties is high. While Travis County’s population increased by 33% from 2005 to 2014, the increase in population for Hays and Williamson Counties was far greater at 61% and 49%, respectively.
In 2014 about half of Travis County’s population was White, according to the American Community Survey (ACS) 1-Year Estimates, with Hispanic, Black, Asian and other races and ethnicities making up the rest of the population.
Since 2005, the White population has increased by about 10%, the Hispanic population has increased by 13%. The Asian population, although a small percentage of the overall population, grew at the fastest rate, with a 19% increase in population. The Black population grew by 15%, a faster rate of growth than both the White and Hispanic populations. Those who identified as “Other” or “Two or More Races” grew by about 11%.
The number of Travis County residents who speak a language other than English has grown by 48% from 2000 to 2014, and the number of residents who speak English less than “very well” has grown by 41%. This exceeds the growth of the total population 5 and older, which grew by 35% over the same period. Spanish was the most commonly-spoken non-English language in Travis County, with just over a quarter million speakers. Korean and the “Other Asian Languages” grew by the largest percentage over the last twelve years, highlighting the growing linguistic diversity. About a third of Travis County residents (31%) speak a language other than English at home, and over 1 in 10 (13%) speak English less than “very well.” In one-fourth of Spanish speaking households and one-fifth of Asian speaking households, no one over the age of 14 speaks English very well.
Most Commonly Spoken Languages, 2010-2014
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2009-2014 5-year estimates, B16001: Language Spoken at Home by Ability to Speak English for the Population 5 Years and Over.
Largest Growth in Language Spoken at Home*
2000 to 2010-2014
Source: 2000 Data from U.S. Census Bureau, Decennial Census, SF3, Table QT-P17: Ability to Speak English, 2000 2014 Data from American Community Survey, 2009/2014 5-year estimates, B16001: Language Spoken at Home by Ability to Speak English for the Population 5 Years and Over.
There is a great difference in median household incomes when broken down by race and ethnicity. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median income for all households, adjusted for inflation, in Travis County was $61,787 in 2014. The median incomes of Hispanic ($45,035) and Black ($44,966) households were significantly lower than those of Asian ($79,909) and White ($73,557) households. Overall, the median household income for all races and ethnicities in Travis County have returned to pre-recession levels.
Over the past ten years Travis County’s population grew by about 33%. During the same time period, the number of people with low-incomes (incomes beneath 200% of the federal poverty thresholds) grew by 33% and the number of people in poverty (incomes beneath 100% of the federal poverty thresholds) grew by 43%. The rates of growth in surrounding counties are even more heavily weighted to people who are low-income or who live below the poverty level. The map below displays net change in the low-income population throughout the Austin MSA since 2000. Dark red areas represent census tracts that have seen the greatest net increase in low-income population, and dark blue areas have seen the greatest decline.
The map below depicts the concentration of poverty in our community. The dark orange areas represent census tracts where more than 40% live below the federal poverty threshold. The light orange areas represent areas where 20% to 40% of all people live below the poverty threshold. The Brookings Institute notes that people who live in areas of concentrated poverty, whether they are poor or not, tend to face higher crime rates, poorer physical and mental health outcomes, poorer educational outcomes and weaker job-seeking networks. According to Brookings, “These challenges disproportionately fall to people of color, and, while they have long been particularly pronounced in inner cities, as poverty has spread beyond the urban core, so too has concentrated disadvantage.”