Central Texas' pandemic-era migration brought billions to the region
Counties across Central Texas saw the state's highest increases in income thanks to new migration between 2020 and 2021.
- The findings come by way of a new analysis of tax data from the Economic Innovation Group, a nonpartisan think tank.
Driving the news: Migration into Travis County between 2020 and 2021 prompted a nearly $1.9 billion rise in adjusted gross income — a 6% increase. But its surrounding counties saw even higher rates.
- Burnet and Llano rank at the top statewide with 26.3% and 25.6% increases in income from new residents.
- Fredericksburg's Gillespie County came in third at 17.1%, with Blanco and Hays following closely at 17% and 16.5%, respectively.
Yes, but: In terms of total monetary increase, Travis ranked highest in the state at just under $1.9 billion. Williamson came in fourth at about $1.2 billion.
Why it matters: Even places like Texas that don't have a local income tax depend on residents' incomes to support the local housing market, retail sales and the tax base.
Between the lines: Travis County was an outlier among the state's most populous counties.
- Houston's Harris County and Dallas County both saw decreases in net income during the same time period.
Flashback: Austin saw the biggest net gain in remote workers of any major U.S. city during the pandemic.
The big picture: When millions of Americans re-thought their living situations during the COVID-19 pandemic, their moves changed the geography of where money is made in the U.S.
What they're saying: "The scale of urban income flight is a lot larger than I thought it would be," said Connor O'Brien, who conducted the analysis at EIG.
- "It's very likely that the last couple of years in superstar cities, high earners have become more mobile, while everyone else has been stuck."
What's next: The data only runs through 2021 — but, based on other evidence, the trends may have eased but not reversed, O'Brien said.
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