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Census estimates show another year of rapid growth for Texas suburbs

New population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau underscore the extent to which the explosive growth of the state's suburban areas relies on attracting residents from other areas of the state and country.

Hays County — with its population spread across suburbs like Buda, Wimberley and Dripping Springs — was one of the fastest-growing counties in Texas among those with populations greater than 10,000.

Home to burgeoning suburban communities, the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area was behind more than a third of the state's population growth from 2016 to 2017. 

Picking up 146,000 new residents, the Dallas metro area once again experienced the largest population growth of any metropolitan area in the country, with Tarrant, Dallas, Denton and Collin counties all ranking in the top 10 counties in the United States that gained the most residents, according to population estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The new estimates, which track population increases from July 2016 to July 2017, also underscored the extent to which explosive growth in the state’s suburban areas relies on attracting residents from other areas of the state and country, not on residents having more babies.


Some of the other largest metropolitan areas in the country rely mostly on international migration and natural increase for growth, but “historically, the Dallas metro area attracts large numbers from both international and domestic migration,” said Census Bureau demographer Molly Cromwell.

In the counties surrounding Dallas and Tarrant, almost two out of every three new residents since 2010 have come from other areas of the state or the country. Meanwhile, most of Dallas County’s growth during that time frame was attributed to residents having children, termed "natural increase" by the census.

Additionally, the new census estimates once again ranked a handful of Texas counties among the country’s fastest-growing from 2016 to 2017.

With a 5.1 percent increase in population, Comal County — on the Interstate 35 corridor between Austin and San Antonio — surpassed Hays and Kendall counties to rank as the nation’s second-fastest-growing county with a population greater than 10,000.

Also on the I-35 corridor, Hays County, which grew 5 percent last year, ranked fourth among the fastest-growing counties in the country. Home to San Antonio suburbs, Kendall County ranked fifth with a 4.9 percent increase in population.

In recent years, those suburban counties have been among those battling it out for the most rapid growth in the state since the last census, with the 10 fastest-growing Texas counties gaining at least a fifth of their residents since 2010.


Harris County, the state’s most populous county, continued to drop in the national rankings of counties that gained the most residents in a year. After having the largest annual gains in residents in the country for eight years, Harris County was unseated last year by Arizona’s Maricopa County. This year, Harris dropped to fourth, though it still gained the most residents of any Texas county.

With about 94,400 new residents, the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metro area also ranked second behind the Dallas metro area for the largest increase in population.

Austin-Round Rock was the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the state, adding 55,269 residents from 2016 to 2017 for a total of 2.1 million people. It was the ninth-fastest-growing metro area in the country, down from eighth the year before.

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Demographics U.S. Census Bureau