Austin region population boom not slowing
While the Austin region cracked 2 million residents last year, Georgetown was the fastest-growing city in the nation, the U.S. Census Bureau reports. New Braunfels and Pflugerville weren't far behind in the countrywide ranking.
According to city-level population estimates released Thursday morning, Georgetown, just north of Austin, is the fastest-growing U.S. city with more than 50,000 residents. It grew by 7.8 percent from mid-2014 through mid-2015, adding 4,611 residents and raising its population from 59,105 to 63,716.
San Marcos, which had the fastest growth in the U.S. for the past three years, slipped down the ranking this time. It grew by 2.4 percent from 2014-2015, adding 1,453 residents to increase its population to 60,684.
Meanwhile, the city of Austin grew at a slower clip than its suburban neighbors between 2014 and 2015, expanding by 2.1 percent with the addition of 19,117 residents to rise to a population of 931,830.
But that percentage growth statistic doesn't tell the entire story. Those 19,117 new residents represent the eighth-largest numerical increase in population out of any U.S. city with more than 50,000 residents. It also outnumbers the 17,397 who moved into San Marcos, Cedar Park, Pflugerville, Georgetown, Kyle and Leander combined.
"People, I think, forget that metro Austin is rocking and rolling because of the city of Austin, primarily," said Ryan Robinson, Austin's city demographer, in an interview with Austin Business Journal. "The reason Austin is No. 1 on so many lists is because of what is happening inside the city of Austin."
Further, while the Austin region's population estimate moved past 2 million between 2014 and 2015, the Central Texas region saw an average overall gain of 157.2 new residents (births, deaths and migration) per day last year. And 52.4 of those new daily residents landed — by plane, train or birth — inside Austin's city limits.
Round Rock, north of Austin in Williamson County, grew by 2.8 percent, adding 3,213 residents to grow to 115,997 residents between 2014 and 2015.
A few miles south of Austin along I-35, New Braunfels was the second-fastest growing U.S. city. It grew by 6.6 percent between 2014-2015 to a population of 70,543.
Closer to Austin, Pflugerville was ranked the 11th-fastest-growing mid-size-or-larger city in the U.S., adding 2,350 residents to grow by 4.4 percent to a population of 57,122.
Pflugerville Community Development Corp. director Amy Madison said Wednesday that those numbers actually understate the amount of growth in the immediate area of Pflugerville and other cities.
"For almost every house we see going up in city limits, we have another one going up in one of the [municipal utility districts], said Madison. "The impact of that on our local [municipal utility district] and how it impacts our commercial and industrial businesses and workforce is significant."
Austin's suburbs have been the focus of tremendous growth since the end of the Great Recession. Since 2010, the entire Austin metro area population has grown by 15.8 percent, with much of that activity coming from the suburbs, particularly north and south of Austin along I-35.
But once you include smaller suburban cities, Leander emerges as the fastest-growing city in the Austin-area between 2014-2015, adding 3,702 residents to raise its population to 37,889 — a 10.8 percent growth rate.
Indeed, Leander's population has expanded more than any other Central Texas city over the past five years, growing by 42 percent from 26,678 residents in 2010.
Kyle, another smaller Austin-area city, grew by 8.7 percent between 2014-2015, adding 2,863 new residents to rise to a population of 35,733.
Cedar Park grew at a 3.6 percent rate, adding 2318 residents to grow its population to 65,945.
Michael Theis covers local government, courts and economic development for the Austin Business Journal.