Minorities Drove Texas Growth, Census Figures Show
<a href="http://www.texastribune.org/" target="new">The Texas Tribune</a>

Minorities Drove Texas Growth, Census Figures Show
by Ross Ramsey, Matt Stiles, Julian Aguilar and Ryan Murphy, The Texas Tribune

The state's explosive growth during the past decade was fueled by a boom in its minority population, which accounted for 89 percent of the total increase in population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Hispanics alone accounted for 65 percent of the state's growth over the last 10 years.

Census officials said late last year that Texas grew 20.6 percent during the last decade, to 25,145,561. The new numbers released Thursday include data for counties and cities, all the way down to the city block level. The widely anticipated decennial population numbers will be used to determine several key issues from federal funding for state projects to business decisions based on populations and demographics.

The state's Hispanic population grew 42 percent over the decade. The black population was up 22 percent. Both outgrew the white population in percentage terms and in raw numbers. The white population grew by 4.2 percent. And while Texas added 464,032 whites over the decade, it added 522,570 blacks and 2.8 million Hispanics. In 17 counties, the Hispanic population grew by more than 100 percent.

The white population in Texas now accounts for 45.3 percent of the total. Hispanics make up 37.6 percent of the population, blacks 11.8 percent and Asians 3.8 percent. The voting age population is a little different: 49.6 percent Anglo, 33.6 percent Hispanic, 11.4 percent black and 3.9 percent Asian.

It’s not just the trend in Texas, but nationwide, according to Steve Murdock, a former U.S. census director and Texas state demographer who's now at Rice University. Six of the first 11 states to receive data saw a decline in the white populations and an increase it their Hispanic populations. The shift in demographics signals what he says is a necessary cooperation between the two groups.

“You have this aging set of Anglos, literally aging off the end of their life chart who are going to need assistance in terms of Social Security, Medicare and in terms of direct care.  At the same time, you have a young population that is overwhelmingly minority that needs the financial assistance through taxes and other factors of the older Anglo population to help get the education it needs to be competitive,” he said.

Don’t be surprised to see Texas experience growing pains, he said. The state recorded about a quarter of the nation’s overall growth, about 4.3 million of the country’s 17 million.

“We’ve had phenomenal rates of growth and we in Texas generally like that growth but we also have to prepare to pay for the implications,” he said. “It means more infrastructure, more educational services. I worry a great deal, if we forget with our older Anglo population that younger population, because that younger population is the future of Texas,” he said.

Where Texas grew

Houston, with just under 2.1 million people, remains the biggest city in the state, followed by San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, and Fort Worth, which leap-frogged El Paso.

Harris County, with 4.1 million residents, remains the state's largest, followed by Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar and Travis.

Most of the state's largest counties kept pace with the statewide population growth rate of 20.6 percent, but Dallas County's population only increased by 6 percent, from 2.21 million to 2.36 million residents. The city of Dallas' population increased less than 1 percent, a fact that's likely to have implications for redistricting of urban seats in the Texas House.  

Suburban and exurban areas around Dallas County, however, showed strong growth, following a trend seen throughout the last decade in the rolling census sampling known as the American Community Survey. Both Collin and Denton counties grew by more than 50 percent, and Rockwall County lead all counties in the rate of growth (81 percent).  

Census 2010 Interactive Map

A similar phenomenon occurred in Houston, where the city population grew by just over 7 percent, despite the influx of Hurricane Katrina evacuees who fled southern Louisiana in the summer of 2005. The city's current population is less than estimates from a few years ago, when suspected population increase once sparked a fight over whether City Council districts should be redrawn because of charter provision. Then-Mayor Bill White fought the effort, saying he preferred to wait for the official hard count released after the 2010 census.  

But all around Houston, population spiked since 2000. Montgomery County to the north saw its population increase by more than 60 percent, while Fort Bend County to the southeast grew by more than 50 percent.