March 21, 2009
We keep on growing

Don't know how much longer we can or will keep this up, but the Houston metropolitan area just keeps growing like gangbusters.

The Houston metropolitan area added more than 130,000 residents between July 1, 2007 and July 1, 2008, the second-highest number in the country after Dallas-Fort Worth, the bureau said. Among counties, Harris County added more than 72,000 people, trailing only Maricopa County, Ariz., in growth in sheer numbers.

In percentage terms, the Austin-Round Rock metropolitan area posted 3.8 percent growth, the nation's second-highest behind Raleigh-Cary, N.C., with 4.3 percent.

Four Texas counties, all in the Austin or Dallas-Fort Worth areas, were among the top 10 in growth rates. Fort Bend County ranked 14th with 4.8 percent growth.

This would be why Texas is getting at least three more Congressional seats in 2011, and why those seats will be going to the Metroplex, Central Texas, and here.

Jobs were the key to the Texas population gains, said Karl Eschbach, the state demographer.

"The particular edge that metro Texas had is that places like Houston were adding jobs at the beginning of the year when most of the rest of the country had slowed or stopped job creation, so Texas employers had a window where they were hiring while others elsewhere were laying off," Eschbach said.

In 2008, Eschbach said, Texas was one of only six U.S. states, along with the District of Columbia, that experienced job growth. The other states that added jobs were far less populous.

But Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that jobs in Texas have begun to contract this year, making expected population trends for Texas metropolitan areas less clear, he said. While natural increase -- births minus deaths -- likely will remain stable, it's possible that migration into Texas from other countries and states will decline as the state's attraction as a job center diminishes, Eschbach said.

"Population movement occurs because of job creation; that's not the only thing, but it's the big thing," he said. "When there are no jobs available anywhere, why move?"

The economy here is a lot more diverse than it once was, but I have a feeling that until the energy industry rebounds, we'll fall back to the pack a bit. It'll be interesting to see how that affects the population growth rate in the interim.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 21, 2009 to Elsewhere in Houston
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