Central Texas counties owe their chart-topping growth to expanding minority populations, according to new U.S. Census estimates released Thursday.
The numbers also show that the greater Austin area, in keeping with a national trend, is getting older.
Here’s what you need to know about Austin-area population shifts:
1. Central Texas is becoming more diverse. While the white population continues to grow in the five-county Austin metro area, population figures for Hispanic, black and Asian groups, as well as for people who identified as being of two or more races, are increasing faster.
In the five-county region anchored by Austin, only Travis and Caldwell counties are majority nonwhite. Despite being the least diverse counties of this group in 2017, Hays and Williamson are starting to catch up to their neighbors.
Williamson County, for example, saw its Asian population jump from almost 5 percent in 2010 to almost 7 percent in 2017, and its Hispanic population increased from 23 percent to 25. Hays County’s Asian population went up to 1.52 percent in 2017 from 1.11 in 2010, and its Hispanic population grew from about 35 percent to 39 percent.
Meanwhile, Williamson’s white population’s share shrank from 64 percent to 59, and Hays’ dropped from 59 percent to 54.
Those two counties are among the top five fastest-growing ones in Texas.
2. Hays and Williamson counties are growing mostly because of migration. Estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau in March show almost half of Travis County’s population increase is a result of births.
Most of Hays and Williamson’s population growth came as a result of migration — about 84 percent and 80 percent, respectively — as opposed to about 16 percent and 20 percent as a result of births. Travis County’s growth was mostly attributable — 52 percent — to migration.
Migration to Williamson and Hays was primarily domestic; migration to Travis had a more international flair.
“Essentially, Hays and Williamson are beginning to move more toward the racial and ethnic composition of the urban corridor of Austin,” said state demographer Lloyd Potter.
3. Asians are the fastest-growing ethnic group in Central Texas. In all five counties combined, the Asian population grew 6.3 percent in the past year, followed by people of two or more races (4.5 percent), Hispanics (3.4 percent) and then blacks (2.8 percent).
For the first time, the percentage of Asians in Williamson County was greater than the percentage of Asians in Travis County.
4. The nation as a whole is also becoming more diverse. From 2016 to 2017, the population of all racial and ethnic groups, except for whites, grew. Texas saw the largest numeric increase in its Hispanic population: 234,000 people.
5. Median ages in Central Texas continue to rise. From 2010 to 2017, the median age increased from 30.3 to 31.9 in Hays County, 32 to 34.3 in Travis County, 34.3 to 36.3 in Williamson County and 34.9 to 36.1 in Caldwell County. Bastrop County was the exception as its median age decreased slightly from 38.4 to 38.2.
That trend mirrors national statistics as well: The median age in the United States increased from 37.2 years to 38 years between 2010 and 2017.
Compared with the rest of the country, however, aging is not trending up as quickly in Texas, where the median age is 34.6.
“(That’s) largely because we have a large and growing Hispanic population, which tends to also be young,” Potter said.
For an interactive deep dive into Texas counties and their changing demographics, visit statesman.com.