The largest metro areas across Texas drove population growth across the state, according to the 2020 U.S. Census. (Courtesy Visit Houston)
The growth of Texas cities seen in the U.S. Census data released on Aug. 12 represents a continued nationwide trend toward larger concentrations of the population in urban areas.
“Metro areas are even more prominent this decade as the locations of population growth, amidst otherwise widespread population decline,” said Marc J. Perry, U.S. Census Bureau senior demographer, during an Aug. 12 news conference. “Texas is a good example of this where parts of the Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Midland and Odessa metro areas had population growth, whereas many of the state’s other counties had population declines.”
Across the country, 52% of counties saw population decline in the last decade, and 86% of the U.S. population now lives in metropolitan areas.
High growth cities lead the way
Texas remains home to three of the nation’s ten largest cities: Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. All three of the cities grew by over 8% between 2010 and 2020.
The state also saw tremendous growth in its smaller cities and suburbs. Among the 10 fastest growing cities with more than 50,000 people, four are in Texas, including Frisco, McKinney, Conroe and New Braunfels.
Overall, the Texas population grew by 16% from 2010 to 2020, picking up two additional U.S. House districts. The Texas Legislature will need to convene a special session to redraw the state’s boundaries for its now 38 districts.
Gap between non-Hispanic white and Hispanic white populations shrinks
While the largest racial or ethnic group in Texas remains the non-Hispanic white alone population, the Hispanic population moved within less than 0.4% of the white alone population. The non-Hispanic white alone population accounts for 39.7% of the population compared to 39.3% for the Hispanic group.
The U.S. Census Bureau uses the term “white alone” to describe people who solely identify as white and no other races.
The data also shows that Texas is the sixth most diverse state in the country. The state’s diversity index is 67%, meaning that if two Texans were selected randomly there is a 67% chance that they would be from different ethnic or racial backgrounds.
The U.S. Census Bureau did make changes to how it records race and ethnicity, including adding a write-in response space for white and Black populations. In a blog post, it said these changes could play a role in differences between 2010 and 2020 data.
Population count remains incomplete
While the U.S. Census Bureau aims to produce a complete picture of the U.S. population, it has historically undercounted and overcounted certain populations.
The bureau’s own analysis found that Black and Hispanic populations, as well as American Indian and Alaska Native populations living on reservations, have historically been undercounted. It also found that the census overcounted the non-Hispanic white population.
Data on overcounting and undercounting is not yet available for the 2020 Census.
The pandemic also strained data collection, particularly in-person collection, as many Americans practiced social distancing. For example, a July 2020 Pew Research survey found that 40% would not answer the door for a U.S. Census worker.
Last November, the bureau also raised new concerns about its collection of data for the race and Hispanic origin questions, finding that more households left the two questions blank.
“Preliminary indications are that item nonresponse for questions on date of birth, sex, race and Hispanic origin are higher relative to 2010,” the bureau’s acting Director Ron Jarmin said in a blog post.
With Texas’ large immigrant population, concerns also exist about the ability to capture that group due to the Trump administration’s efforts to include a citizenship question. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually blocked that question from being included in June 2019. Data on the foreign-born population has not been released yet.