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Austin's Population Grew By 22% In The Last Decade

People sit in the shade near the state Capitol in July.
Gabriel C. Pérez
People sit in the shade near the state Capitol in July.

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Austin grew by nearly 22% over the last decade, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau. Overall, the population of the five-county area jumped by a third to more than 2.2 million people.

Much of the findings in the 2020 census are known-knowns:

  • Austin has a dwindling Black population; the share of Black residents dropped from 8% of the population in 2010 to just 7% in 2020.
  • Austinites of Asian descent are the fastest growing demographic, rising to the third largest racial or ethnic group in 2020.
  • The city as a whole is growing. Austin’s population was nearly 962,000, according to the Census Bureau.

But Austin also bucked the national trend, which saw the white population shrink for the first time ever.

Austin's share of white, non-Hispanic people did dip in the last decade, but demographer Lila Valencia says she expected to see communities of color drive growth here not white residents.

“The major driver of growth in the city of Austin is the non-Hispanic white population," she said. "They contributed almost 40% of the total growth in the last decade, but the populations of color continue to grow as well.”

The share of Hispanic Austinites also dropped, from 35% in 2010 to 32% in 2020 — though the Hispanic population did grow by 34,741 people.

Overall, Valencia said, the Austin area fell short of the projections in the Census Bureau's 2019 American Community Survey by roughly 17,000 people. She suggested that could be the result of an undercount.

The count comes after a yearslong politicization of the census under former President Donald Trump. Court battles over the Trump administration's controversial attempt to include a citizenship question ultimately delayed the survey.

That politicization, combined with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, put the numbers a bit lower than Valencia and other demographers projected.

"We're thinking that that's what may be behind some of this. This was definitely one of the most challenging censuses in a long time," she said.

The data's release allows Texas lawmakers to begin what will likely be a contentious battle redrawing Texas' political maps. The Texas Tribune reports that state Rep. Todd Hunter, who heads the Texas House Committee on Redistricting, said lawmakers could begin that process as soon as Sept. 1.

Andrew Weber is a general assignment reporter for KUT, focusing on criminal justice, policing, courts and homelessness in Austin and Travis County. Got a tip? You can email him at Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.
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