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No Surprise: Austin Ranks Among Fastest Growing Metros - Again

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Once again, Austin ranks among the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the nation.

According to the most recent data from the Census Bureau, Austin ranked eighth nationally on a list of rapidly expanding metro areas, growing 2.6 percent from July 2012 to July 2013.

This should come as no surprise, since Austin has been near the top of the list since 2010. But what may be surprising is that the city’s growth could finally be leveling off.

For the 2010 to 2011 census period, Austin was the second fastest-growing metro area in the nation, with a growth rate of 3.9 percent. The following year Austin fell to the seventh spot, with a growth rate of 3 percent. This year, Austin has dropped down another spot on the list, and grown marginally less than in previous years.

City of Austin demographer Ryan Robinson says the numbers indicate more of a “slight downshift” than an outright slowdown: numbers may be lower, but things aren’t necessarily slower.

“At 2.6 percent annualized growth on a base of almost 1.9 million, that’s really, really rapid growth,” Robinson says. “I don’t want to give the image or the sense that we’ve slowed down to something more reasonable. It’s still very, very rapid.”

What does that 2.6 percent increase look like in terms of who is moving to the region?

Since 2010, Travis County has been growing at almost double the rate of the more suburban counties, such as Williamson, Hays and Bastrop. The most recent data shows that differential is beginning to shrink.

"Williamson County, Hays and Bastrop – those detached single family housing markets are really beginning to heat back up to levels that we haven’t seen since ‘05 or ‘06,” Robinson says. “I still say that this boom is urban-centric, but we’re now beginning to see that our suburban realm is heating back up as well.”

Two other Texas metros joined Austin in the top ten. Odessa and Midland were ranked as the second and third fastest growing areas in the nation, with both seeing a 3.3 percent increase in population last year.

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