While state lawmakers and some presidential candidates have placed a spotlight on those coming to Texas from other countries, the Lone Star State has become the top destination for migrants of the domestic variety.
In recent years, people moving to Texas from other states — rather than from other countries — have played a key role in the state's population growth, according to a new analysis by the Office of the State Demographer. From 2005 to 2013, an estimated 5.9 million people moved to Texas, and 4.8 million of those came from one of the other 49 states.
Put another way: In that time period, Texas grew by an average of 345 people per day, accounting for people who moved here from other states and those who left Texas.
“More than half of our population change is from net migration,” said state demographer Lloyd Potter, whose office provides periodic snapshots of the state’s growth. Though Texas is still seeing strong international migration, part of that flow has slowed as illegal immigration has dropped. Meanwhile, migration from other states has remained steady, Potter added.
Domestic net migration — the difference between the number of migrants leaving Texas for other states and the number of migrants coming to Texas — totaled 154,467 between 2013 and 2014. During that same time period, international migration topped off at 84,637.
California sent more people by far to Texas than any other state.
It’s a trend that’s similar among foreign-born migrants. In 2013, more foreign-born people came to the state after having first lived in California than any other state. That said, more than 80 percent of those moving here from other states were born in the United States.
Texas and California have long shared “pretty significant” migrant flows, Potter said, but “it’s really more in recent years that the flow has turned more toward Texas from California.”
Compared to the state’s overall population, domestic migrants are younger, with a majority falling into the 18- to 44-year-old age group. They are also more likely to be men and less likely to be Hispanic.
Though domestic migrants resettled across the state, almost half headed to Texas’ biggest metropolitan areas.
Between 2009 and 2013, Harris County — home to Houston — took in the most domestic migrants, according to the report. Though domestic migration there has since started to slow, Harris County has long served as a “migrant mecca,” Potter said.
While the analysis shows population growth that coincides with the state's oil drilling boom, the report doesn't cover migration patterns over the past two years, when oil prices plunged and thousands of job openings were replaced with layoffs.
“This is leading up to that, when things were coming along,” Potter said. “We’re going to see continued domestic migration, but that association with the oil industry is slowing if not even reversing.”