Aug 23, 2023 - Newcomers Guide

Central Texas' pandemic-era migration brought billions to the region

Net change in income from migration, 2020 to 2021
Reproduced from EIG; Map: Axios Visuals

Counties across Central Texas saw the state's highest increases in income thanks to new migration between 2020 and 2021.

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.

Net change in income from migration, 2020 to 2021
Reproduced from EIG; Map: Axios Visuals

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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