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Texas added nearly 1.6 million people between 2020 and Jan. 1, with the Austin region — the state’s fastest-growing metro area with 7.2% growth — drawing in the most new residents, according to new population data by the Texas Demographic Center. But Fort Worth added more residents — 48,542 — than any other city.
The so-called “Texas Triangle”— composed of the Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Austin metro areas — now holds a whopping 68% of the state’s 30.3 million residents.
Overall, the population of Texas grew by 4% from January 2020 to January 2023, including new births as well as new residents moving to the area, the data show.
"Texas is growing at a rapid rate because we have high resident retention and are attracting new domestic residents,” said Lauren Leining, a data analyst at Texas 2036, which strategizes on long-term Texas policy. “With new state residents bringing in considerable wealth, Texas should take this opportunity to expand infrastructure in important ways."
Helen You, associate director and lead demographer at TDC, said a large majority of the population changes comes from migration both from in and out of the state. You said that over half of Texas’ counties are in “rural decline,” meaning their deaths outnumber their births. However, the statewide population is still rising due to the sheer number of new Texans.
“Actually, three-fourths of the state's increase are driven by migration from either inside the United States … or from immigration,” You said.
And while most Texans live in major metro areas, it’s not those regions’ core cities that are growing rapidly. All five of the cities with highest growth rates — Liberty Hill, Weston, Caddo Mills, Josephine and Fulshear — were once sleepy outposts now experiencing encroachment of the state’s longtime suburban sprawl. You, the lead demographer, said TDC hypothesizes movement from urban areas to less densely populated areas is caused by more affordable housing and the availability of remote work.
The center’s report lists white Texans as the largest demographic group in the state, contrary to the U.S. Census’ own population estimates updated earlier this year. Still, the two entities’ estimates are within 1 percentage point of each other. The Census found that Hispanic people make up 40.2% of the population compared to white Texans who make up 39.8% of all residents. The Texas center estimates that white people are 41% of the population compared to Hispanic people who make up 39.6% of all residents. Black people make up 11.9% of the population and Asian people constitute 5.2% of the state’s residents, according to the TDC’s estimates.
In three of the five most populous counties, Hispanic Texans do make up the largest population group, according to the TDC’s estimates. In Bexar County, Hispanic Texans make up a full majority at 61%. In none of those five urban counties do white Texans make up a majority.
Meanwhile, a boom in the North Texas suburbs kept the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area at the top of state’s population centers, with an estimated 8 million residents as of January, according to the numbers which were first reported by The Dallas Morning News.
Texans chose to stay put along most of the southern border region, with Brownsville-Harlingen leading a slight uptick in residents in the Rio Grande Valley.
They moved away from the Gulf Region, however. The largest exodus came from Corpus Christi, with 3,659 people moving out of the Sparkling City by the Sea since 2020. The Beaumont-Port Arthur and Victoria areas also saw population declines. El Paso was a close second for that dubious honor, losing some 3,227 residents from 2020 to 2023. The largest percentage dip was in the tiny town of Toyah, which has lost 7 of its 61 residents since 2020.
And they left the rural parts of Northeast Texas and West Texas as well, with drops in population in both Texarkana and San Angelo.
Big jumps were seen in areas considered a suburban-rural mix, such as Aledo and Alvarado about 30 miles from Fort Worth. Liberty Hill, a far-flung Austin exurb between Georgetown and Burnet, saw the highest percentage growth of any city, with a 194% increase from 2020 to 2023. Fulshear, about 30 miles west of Houston, more than doubled its population, from about 17,000 in 2020 to almost 40,000 in January 2023.
The states sending the most households to Texas from 2020 to 2021 are California, Florida, Louisiana, New York and Colorado, according to Texas 2036. In that time, California alone accounted for nearly 53,000 households moving to Texas. Californians also brought the most money as their adjusted gross income, totalling more than $7.2 billion, the agency said.
“People moving to Texas from out of state are richer, on average, than people who move within Texas,” Texas 2036 data analyst Carlos Ignacio Navarro wrote.
Disclosure: Texas 2036 has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.