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Latino population growth in the suburbs

We won’t know all of the specifics till after the Census is completed, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone to hear that the suburbs are changing in the same ways that the rest of the state and the country are.

In March, millions of census forms will be delivered to residences in the U.S. and Puerto Rico to count the U.S. population. The portrait of America that emerges will certainly show more diversity since 2000. But that diversity won’t be limited to big cities or populous counties.

The number of Hispanics in Montgomery County, where Conroe is the county seat, grew by 112 percent from 2000 through 2008, while Latino growth in Fort Bend County was 70 percent, according to Census Bureau estimates. Harris County’s Hispanic population, meanwhile, increased by 40 percent, and Houston’s went up by 31 percent.

Karl Eschbach, the state demographer, said he expects a falling Mexican fertility rate and other factors to lead to a decline in Latino migration to Texas in percentage terms. Locally, Eschbach said, “the growth of a range of housing options in the suburbs, both inside and outside Harris County, is redistributing (Latino) growth away from Houston.”

Putting these into absolute figures:

Montgomery County, Year 2000 versus Year 2008 Year Population Latinos Latino% ================================== 2000 293,768 37,500 12.8% 2008 429,953 78,681 18.3% Diff 132,185 41,181 31.2% Fort Bend County, Year 2000 versus Year 2008: Year Population Latinos Latino% ================================== 2000 354,452 74,871 21.1% 2008 532,141 127,182 23.9% Diff 177,689 52,311 29.4% Harris County, Year 2000 versus Year 2008: Year Population Latinos Latino% ==================================== 2000 3,400,578 1,119,751 32.9% 2008 3,984,349 1,565,849 39.3% Diff 583,771 446,098 76.4%

The Year 2008 Latino population is derived in each case from the “Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin, percent, 2008” figure, since an actual number is not given. By my calculation, the growth rate for Montgomery is 109%, not 112, not that it matters that much. While Montgomery’s rate of growth looks – and is – impressive, it’s easier to have such a high rate of growth when the starting number is small. There’s still a lot of white people moving into Montgomery County, in other words. Fort Bend saw high rates of growth in its black and Asian populations as well – 58% for blacks (from 70,356 to 111,217) and 97% for Asians (39,706 to 78,224). In Harris, 76% of all new population growth is attributable to Latinos. To me, that’s even more amazing than what’s happening in Montgomery. Pretty good glimpse at why voting patterns have been evolving in Harris and Fort Bend, too.

Anyway, as usual I find the opportunity to crunch a few numbers to be irresistible. For stuff like this, it’s especially fascinating.

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  1. Ohio River Valley Liberal says:

    Isn’t it something that Houston was the biggest jim Crow city in America just 50 years ago? For all the troubles in our city and society, sometimes I’m just so glad I live in these times and not back in Jim Crow and lynching days. It’s really a miracle in some ways how things have changed. I think we can say that even given how many folks still are nasty and racist.

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