August 07, 2008
Harris County keeps on growing

Some time in the next month or so, Harris County likely welcomed its four millionth resident. Assuming it hasn't already happened, that is.

The county's population as of July 2007 was 3.94 million, representing a 1.5 percent bump of 60,000 residents from the July 2006 estimate. A similar rise in the next year could push Harris County past the 4 million mark. Experts attribute the growth to ongoing immigration, high Latino birth rates and a healthy local economy.

If the rate of growth was exactly the same in 2007 as it was in 2006, then 3.94 million plus 1.5% = 3,999,100. Note that in Dr. Murray's recent calculations to determine the number of eligible voters in Harris County, he was assuming that 3.94 million figure as of January 2007, not July, which skews his current total higher. Performing the same calculations he did with this lower figure yields a bit more than 50,000 fewer eligible voters; we'll say a revised estimate of 2.45 million eligible voters, with a target of 2.05 million to be registered for the proportion to be the same as it was in 2004.

The biggest factor in Harris County's growth was a surge of 58,000 new Hispanic residents, bringing their estimated population to 1.5 million. The white population dropped by 5,500 residents to 1.4 million, while the number of African-Americans increased by 2,500 to 764,000.

The county's Asian community added 7,200 residents, bringing its estimated population to 239,000.

The Census data reinforce the county's position as one of the most diverse regions of the nation.

Of U.S. counties with populations exceeding 1 million, Harris is now estimated to have the third-highest number of minority residents. They comprise 63 percent of the county's population, which is the ninth-highest percentage in the country. Texas counties ranking higher than Harris are Bexar County with 68 percent and Dallas County with 64 percent.

"It shows largely the continuation of important recent trends, which is that Texas is a state that is leading the nation in its ethnic and racial changes," said Karl Eschbach, director of the Texas State Data Center in San Antonio and a University of Texas-San Antonio professor. "There are a large number of counties in the state that are majority-minority, and the proportion of minorities in the state continues to increase."

Similar changes are going on in many Texas Counties. There was a good Swing State Project diary recently that summarized much of this. Among other things, this should result in at least one and maybe two or three of the new Congressional seats in 2011 being drawn to elect a Hispanic candidate, one of which will be in the Houston area. I fully expect that when Congress convenes in 2013, we'll finally have a real-life version of Matt Santos. And for what it's worth, I'd probably put even money on that person being a Maria rather than a Matt.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 07, 2008 to Elsewhere in Houston

The Census data reinforce the county's position as one of the most diverse regions of the nation.

Just wondering: 1) who is this almighty stator of the county's position, 2) who is bowing to this edict, and 3) what prize do we win if everyone bows?

Posted by: Charles Hixon on August 7, 2008 9:05 PM
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