The latest federal population data offers some déjà vu for Texas and California.
Texas added the most residents of any state by raw numbers in 2021 while California’s population continued to dwindle for the second year in a row, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates. A years-long trend of residents trading the West Coast for the Lone Star State is likely continuing, especially as companies relocate to Texas in droves.
Texas gained an estimated 310,288 people, which would be a roughly 1.1% increase, between July 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021, according to the data released Dec. 21. That accounts for births and migration. The Lone Star State was estimated to have a population of 29,527,941 by July of this year, and its growth rate has been consistent over the last few years.
California, however, lost an estimated 261,902 residents from July 1, 2020, to July 1, 2021, which would mark just the second year for the population of the Golden State to fall since at least 1900.
The Census estimates still peg California as the most populous state with roughly 39,237,836 residents, though the federal agency also surmised the state lost the most residents — 367,299 — to domestic migration.
Overall, the U.S. population grew an estimated 0.1% in 2021, the slowest rate in history. Census officials pointed to the nation’s lower birth rates, decreasing net international migration and rising mortality rates as the culprit.
These overarching population trends carry real implications for professionals in the Austin area, from developers planning large projects to school administrators wondering when they will need to build another elementary campus.
For years, there has been a steady trickle of companies moving to the Lone Star State from the higher-cost coasts. The pandemic added fuel to the fire, and the last year has seen a flood of companies, and people, moving to Texas from California.
A recent Texas A&M University Real Estate Research Center study found that California remains the No. 1 source of out-of-state relocations to Texas.
The Austin metro’s population, in particular, has surged in recent years: it was the country’s fastest-growing big metro for the past decade. This year, at least 13 companies have relocated their headquarters to the Austin metro from California, according to a tally by Austin Business Journal. A prominent recent example was Elon Musk’s electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc. (Nasdaq: TSLA). The HQ is located at Tesla’s massive gigafactory in eastern Travis County, which is expected to begin production any day now.
That level of growth has brought its fair share of challenges. The Austin metro recently fell from a list of the top five metros for movers in 2021 because of rising affordability concerns, based on a study by Zillow and Allied Van Lines. The arrival of people with more disposable income has contributed to rising housing prices and low supply, which can displace longtime locals looking for homes.
Using customer data from Allied Van Lines and Zillow’s home value data, the study found that those who moved out of Austin relocated to areas where the ZIP codes have an average home value $109,756 lower than where they moved from.
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