Moving to Texas

Lots of people keep migrating to Texas, from all over.

Between July 2007 and July 1, 2008, nearly 141,000 people moved to Texas from other states, compared with about 92,000 international migrants, the bureau said.

The data provide a fresh indicator of how longstanding immigration patterns into Texas are changing.

In the early years of this decade, international migration into Texas was two to three times as great as domestic, but the trend reversed starting in 2006.

Much of Texas’ international migration historically hails from Mexico and Central America, where immigrants fled poor conditions. But the surging domestic migration into the Lone Star State is now likely to come from economically depressed states such as Michigan, which lost about 46,000 residents between July 2007 and July 1, 2008.

Texas gained 484,000 residents last year, more than any other state. In percentage growth, Texas’ 2 percent tied for third with North Carolina and Colorado behind Utah, 2.5 percent, and Arizona, 2.3 percent.

Domestic migration in Texas last year was almost three times what it was in 2005. It peaked in 2006, when an influx of Louisiana residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina contributed to about 220,000 Texas domestic migrants.

Karl Eschbach, the state demographer, said Texas has continued to produce jobs while employment declined in many other states. He said this was the key factor driving the increased domestic migration.

“For the past several years, job growth in the United States means Texas,” Eschbach said. “The Texas economy has so much outperformed the rest of the country.”

One of the effects of this population surge is that Texas will get as many as four new Congressional seats in the 2011 reapportionment (see here for more). I’ve blogged about this before, so let’s just say that this is, or at least ought to be, a powerful incentive for Democrats to be competitive at the statewide level in 2010 (as I’d always thought they planned to do), since four of the five seats on the Legislative Redistricting Board – lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, and land commissioner – are statewide offices. We may be thisclose to electing a Democratic Speaker, but let’s not put all our eggs in one basket. A little wiggle room would sure be nice.

If you want to go deeper into the weeds on this (and who doesn’t?), Greg games out a few scenarious. If I could add one wish list item to what he’s conjured up, it would be the reconstruction of a Congressional district that basically captures most of the central Houston area, much like the old CD25 but without the bit that jogged over into Deer Park. Not gonna happen, for the reasons Greg cites about desirable fundraising areas, but it’s what I’d push for if I had a say in it.

Anyway, back to the story:

Eschbach cautioned that Texas’ role as a magnet for job seekers could diminish as the state’s economic troubles begin catching up to the nation’s.

University of Houston economist Barton Smith said last month that Houston, Texas’ most populous city, was losing its “energy cushion” and moving toward an economy that resembled the rest of the country. He predicted that Houston would lose between 11,000 and 37,500 jobs in 2009.

Without the draw of new jobs, Eschbach said, people tend to move for different reasons, such as a desire to be closer to their families.

“You’re going to see slowing rates of movement” into Texas, Eschbach said. “I would predict less domestic migration.”

So let’s not get too smug about this. And as many people, including Eschbach’s predecessor Steve Murdock have warned, unless we start doing things to really improve schools and health care in Texas, the long-term trends for this state are not good at all. It’d be nice to think we’ll take some steps in that direction next spring, but I’m not going to hold my breath on that.

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3 Responses to Moving to Texas

  1. blank says:

    I completely agree with you that Democrats need to do our best to stack the LRB as much as possible. Nonetheless, I think your post implies that LRB has some control over the CDs, which I believe (but I could be wrong) is incorrect. I’m not a lawyer, and my understanding of the process is almost entirely from my reading of the TLC web page to which you linked. But, my understanding is that, like any state bill, the legislature draws the maps for the CDs, SDs, HDs, and SBOEs. Similar to any other bill the governor can also veto the maps too. Furthermore, Obama’s (and thank goodness it’s now Obama’s) DOJ must review the maps to determine whether they comply with the Voter Rights Act. Consequently, these maps may not be settled by the legislature. If the SD or HD map remains unsettled by some time (I can’t recall the time off of the top of my head), then by Texas law, LRB has control of the state map, but it is still subject to DOJ approval. However, LRB has no authority over the CD map, and so if it is tied up, then it goes to court.

    All that said, I still completely agree with you that we need to go after the LRB seats. After all, consider the following scenario. Democrats take back the state house but fail to pick up any of the other statewide seats on the LRB. The Democrats pass a reasonable HD map in the state house but that map is then stuffed in the senate or vetoed by the governor. Then, the HD map goes to the LRB, which would include only the Democratic speaker and four other Republicans. The LRB would likely redraw the HD map to give Republicans the house back in 2012.

  2. Joe says:

    Oh, please, not again. Whining and griping about everything here…the weather, the traffic, the schools, how they did it so much better back home and thinking they’re the only ones in history who have ever moved to Texas. Been to Austin lately? It’s all California plates and they have ruined the place.

    But yet they had to move here because their states are in the crapper, then add to the crowded schools and highways here even more. And that’s just the legal residents. Flashbacks of 1972.

  3. matt emal says:

    The LRB doesn’t draw CDs, just state legislative boundaries when the Legislature fails to do so, as they did in 2001 when Senate Republicans led by David Sibley killed it with (you guessed it) the “two-thirds” rule. Then the LRB Republican majority wrote the House and Senate District boundaries, setting up a legislative re-write of the CDs in 2003 to supplant the court-imposed map.

    Since then, I’ve been telling anyone who’d listen that Democrats should be focused on winning a majority of the LRB by 2010.

    That’s one reason why I wish Mayor White would run instead for Lt. Gov. instead of US Senate (not to mention the fact that the Lt. Gov. is certainly the most powerful elected official in the state.) Fundraising would not pose the same type of challenge: he could start with the money he already has in the bank and raise and spend as much as he needs to in what promises to be an open seat.

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