Austin's 'Most Invasive Species' Isn't the One You Might Think

Jul 20, 2015

Central Texas is under attack. No, not Jade Helm, or even the summer swarms of mosquitoes. We’re talking about an invasive species. Zebra Mussels? Nope. Fire ants? Try again. We're talking about an even more supposed "invasive" species: Californians.

They arrive with their telltale license plates, often heading straight to In-N-Out Burger and Trader Joe's. As Austin continues to grow at a rapid pace, plenty of anecdotal blame has fallen on people moving here from California. Except … they’re not?

Turns out the net total of Californians moving to Travis County each year is only about 1,000 people.

"So, in a county that’s 1.1, 1.2 million people, that is a tiny, tiny, almost unnoticeable portion of the growth here. You know, in overall terms, it’s a very, very insignificant driver of population growth," says Brian Kelsey, a principal with the economic research and planning firm Civic Analytics.

Kelsey looked at the most recent numbers available (2008-2012) from the Census Bureau and IRS to see where people are moving to Austin from. Of the people that move here from out of state, about one in seven is from California. But more than half of the people moving to Austin aren’t even from out of state — they’re from Texas. (You can read the full analysis at Civic Analytics.)

“Sixty percent of the people moving to Travis County come from other parts of Texas. So yes, the majority of people who move here every year are from another county in Texas," Kelsey says.

So, if you want to blame someone for moving to Austin, you’ve got to start with Texans first.