The US Census Bureau released an update today.
Texas is the headline story.
- Four Texas metro areas together added more people last year than any state in the country except for Texas as a whole, according to new U.S. Census Bureau population estimates released today. The population in these four metro areas increased by more than 400,000 people from July 1, 2014, to July 1, 2015.
- The Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land and Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metro areas added about 159,000 and 145,000 residents, respectively — the largest gains of any metro areas in the nation. Two additional Texas metro areas adjacent to each other — Austin-Round Rock and San Antonio-New Braunfels — were each also among the 16 nationwide to gain 50,000 or more people over the period.
- North Dakota contained the nation’s two fastest-growing micro areas between 2014 and 2015: Williston and Dickinson, whose populations rose by 9.9 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively.
- Two micro areas, Bozeman, MT, and Williston, ND, each gained more than 3,000 people between 2014 and 2015, increasing by about 3,500, and around 3,200, respectively.
U.S. oil prices tumbled from more than $100 a barrel in the summer of 2014 to less than $50 a year later, but that didn't stop workers from flocking to Texas, the nation's biggest energy-producing state.
Eight of the top 20 counties that gained the most population last year were in Texas. Four Lone Star metros—Dallas, Houston (Harris County), San Antonio (Bexar County), and Austin (Travis County)—collectively added more than 412,000 people from July 2014 to July 2015.
If energy prices tanked, why did the population keep growing?
A diverse labor market, fueled in part by Texas's corporate-friendly tax structure, combined with relatively affordable housing and proximity to the Mexican border, has been drawing people to Texas for years.
Harris County, a global hub for the energy industry, has added more than 440,000 people since 2010 with annual increases averaging 2 percent over the past five years, according to historical data from the census. The Dallas-Ft. Worth area, with such large corporate employers as AT&T and American Airlines, has grown too, with Dallas County adding 186,000 people over the same period.
All those new workers searching for homes have made housing more expensive, with the state's median home price reaching $189,000 in January 2016, up 37 percent from five years earlier.
Despite that increase, the state's major housing markets look cheap compared with big cities on the coasts. In Harris County, it takes 22 percent of one's average wages to cover mortgage payments and other costs of a typical home. Compare that with Los Angeles County, where those costs amount to 67 percent of wages, or Brooklyn, where the figure is 120 percent.
Cheap housing and the absence of a state income tax make the state popular with workers, while low corporate taxes and a reputation as a pro-business regulatory environment have persuaded large employers to relocate.
In Dallas, an ongoing boom in office construction is being led by companies—JPMorgan Chase, Liberty Mutual Insurance, and Toyota Motor Co.—whose fortunes are more closely linked to the national economy than to the energy sector. Austin, meanwhile, is a popular location for such tech companies as Dell, IBM, and chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices.