Jul 7, 2022 - News

Census data reveals Texas' COVID population shift

Change in population estimate in Texas, by county
Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Map: Simran Parwani/Axios

Turns out, people are moving here.

The big picture: Driven by the pandemic, our new work-from-anywhere world has accelerated the great Sun Belt shift as cities like Austin have attracted emigres from California, the rural Midwest and other parts of Texas seeking either cheaper housing or better job prospects.

Why it matters: The shift reveals how Austin, just a sleepy capital/university town a generation or two ago, is now a booming tech-company magnet.

  • The new data also reflects the population boom in the suburbs, as more and more Austinites are priced out of the central city.

Between the lines: Just as important as how many people are moving here — who is moving here has long-term implications for political power as Democrats and Republicans rush to court newcomers.

A key question: Will the influx from California mean that Texas grows slowly more progressive — assuming they're liberal to begin with — or will Texas' libertarian DNA imprint itself upon the new Austinites?

Change in Texas population by race/ethnicity
U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Skye Witley/Axios

What we've noticed: At an Axios Austin members event this spring, more than half the attendees told us they had moved here within the last two years.

Austin continues to grow more diverse, per the latest census data gathered from July 2020 to July 2021, continuing a trend over the last decade.

  • The five-county Austin metro area shifted from a majority-white region in 2010 to a majority-minority region in 2020.
  • The population of non-Hispanic white residents declined from 54.7% in 2010 to 49.6% in 2020.

Our thought bubble: As painful as rising home prices — and property taxes — are for long-time Austinites, as long as they remain cheaper than property in San Francisco, Los Angeles or New York City, expect to see more people road trip down to Austin with their belongings tethered to the top of their car.


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