Texas Second and Growing, But Not All of its 254 Counties: Finding from the 2018 Population Estimate
Texas remains one of the fastest growing states in the United States. However, the 2018 population estimates suggest that the annual rate of population growth in Texas has decreased slightly during 2017-2018 compared with annual growth rate of 2016-2017. According to the 2018 estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Texas increased from 28,322,717 in 2017 to 28,701,845 in 2018. This is an increase of 379,128 persons or 1.3 percent between July 1, 2017 and July 1, 2018. Texas’s growth rate nearly doubled the national growth rate of 0.7 percent. Interestingly, the change in population during the 2017-2018 has not been distributed evenly throughout the state. Some counties have grown rapidly, some have grown slowly and others have declined. Out of 254 counties, 159 counties gained population while 94 counties lost population during 2017-2018. Only one county population remained the same.
Population Change in Texas from July 1, 2017 to July 1, 2018
The largest numerical increases in population from 2017 to 2018 were in the counties with the largest populations except El Paso County which gained only 213. Harris County gained the most with an increase of 34,460, followed by Collin County with an increase of 33,753, Tarrant County with an increase of 27,463, Bexar County with an increase of 27,208, Denton County with an increase of 23,734, and Fort Bend County with an increase of 21,722. Top10 counties with largest numerical population increase are given in the following Table.
Top 10 Counties Ranked by Numerical Population increase from 2017- 2018
Sadly, 94 counties lost experienced population loss in 2017-2018. Aransas county lost the most population (1,655), followed by Jefferson County (1,590), Orange County (1,364), Potter County (870), Angelina County (619), Moore (393), San Patricio (330), Wharton (297), Matagorda (259), and Uvalde (252). Detailed data on population estimates for all 254 counties can be found at (Table 1).
Bottom 10 Counties Ranked by Numerical Population decline from 2017-2018
In terms of percent population change, Loving County gained the most (11.8 percent), followed by Comal County (5.4 percent), Kennedy County (4.7 percent), Kaufman County (4.7 percent) Midland County (4.3 percent), Hudspeth County (4.2 percent), Hood County (4.1 percent), Rockwall County (3.9 percent), Hays County (3.9 percent), and Williamson County (3.8 percent). Top 10 counties with largest percent population increase are given in the following Table.
Top 10 Counties Ranked by Percent Population Increase from 2017-2018
In terms of percent population decline, Aransas County lost the most (6.5 percent), followed by McMullen County (4.6 percent), Kent County (4.5 percent), King County (4.2 percent) Roberts County (3.6 percent), Schleicher County (3.3 percent), Borden County (3.3 percent), Hemphill County (3.0 percent), Presidio County (2.9 percent), and Wheeler County (2.5 percent). Bottom 10 counties with largest percent population decline are given in the following Table.
Bottom 10 Counties Ranked by Percent Population Decline from 2017-2018
Component of Population Change:
Population change is driven by three components: 1. Natural change (births minus deaths), 2. Net internal or domestic migration (i.e., in and out migration within the 50 States and Territories of the U.S.), and 3. Net international migration (immigration minus emigration).
Out of 254 counties, 177 counties increase population due to natural change (i.e., had more births than deaths), 3 counties remain the same, and 74 counties lost population due to natural change (i.e., had fewer births than deaths).
International migration is an important factor in population growth and presents challenges for a population because of assimilation processes as opposed to natural increases. Out of 254 counties, 215 counties gained population due to international migration, 20 counties had 0 net international migration, and 19 counties lost population due to net international migration. Top 10 and bottom 10 counties ranked by international migration were:
Another component of population change is domestic migration. Out of 254 counties, 131 counties gained population due to domestic migration, while 122 lost population due to domestic migration. Top 10 and bottom 10 counties ranked by domestic migration were:
An examination of the component of population change allows us to see the sources of population change (i.e., change due to natural increase, net international migration, or net domestic migration, or combinations of all three). For certain counties, international migration contributed more to the increase in population than did domestic migration during the period of 2017-2018. For other counties, domestic migration was the primary contributor to the population increase. Among the largest counties, Harris, Dallas, El Paso, Cameron, Hidalgo and Nueces lost population due to domestic migration. Detailed data on component of population change for all 254 counties can be found at (Table 2).
Nevertheless, population growth from 2010 to 2018 has slowed compared to the 1990s and 2000 – 2010 when one examines the number of counties in Texas that have shown growth and decline in population. For example, during the period of 1990-2000, 68 counties experienced population decline and 89 counties experienced net outmigration. During the period of 2000 to 2010, the number of counties with population decline was 88 and the number of counties with net outmigration was 119. During the 2017-2018, 159 counties lost population and the number of counties with net outmigration was 115.
During 2017-2018, Texas led the nation in population increase. Texas’ population has surpassed 28.7 million. However, not every county experienced population growth during the period 2017 – 2018. Out of 254 counties, 159 counties gained population, while 94 counties lost population during 2017-2018. While only 19 counties lost population due to international migration, 122 counties lost population due to domestic migration, and 74 counties lost population due to natural change. Of course size of the change varies widely across the counties, from a net loss of only 1 international migrants in Bastrop County to a gain of 35,952 international migrants in Harris County. For domestic migration, Harris County lost the most (43,582), while Collin County Gained the most (21,852). An understanding of the components of population change will help us to understand the reason of population change in a given area (i.e., population in a particular area is increasing or declining due to more or fewer births than deaths, or due to net migration).
Recent estimates suggest that, Texas’ population is growing at a level that is substantially higher than the national growth rate and all but a handful of other states. One may ask whether such growth will continue in the future. It is impossible to predict future patterns with absolute accuracy, but the fact that such a large part of Texas’ population growth is due to natural increase (48.1 percent) suggests that population growth will likely continue, even if the rate of growth slows from that observed in the past. Texas may thus be expected to remain among those states with the largest numerical increase in population and to continue to be among the nation’s fastest growing states in the coming years. All of these changes have significant implications for education, the labor force, health services, and the polity.