In a nutshell, Houston is older, better educated, and more ethnically diverse. One in four Houstonians was born outside the U.S., the fastest growing age group is the 65 and older population, and one in seven Houstonians moved to a different home in ’22. However, fewer Houstonians are having babies, a large portion of the population remains uninsured, one in 10 suffers from some form of disability, and many households still live in poverty.
In this issue, the Partnership examines ACS data for the nation’s 20 most populous metro areas, exploring similarities and differences between Houston and its peers. Metro Houston includes Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, and Waller Counties.
Metro Houston has one of the youngest and most diverse populations in the U.S. The region also has one of the nation’s largest foreign-born populations. But we lag in educational attainment and health care coverage. Houston also has the highest share of residents whose income falls below the poverty line. The details follow.
Houston is the nation’s most racially and ethnically diverse major metro. No individual race or ethnic group represents a majority of the region’s population. It’s been that way for over 20 years. Other metros also have large racial/ethnic populations, but they lack balance among the groups. For example, Riverside has a large Hispanic community but much smaller Black or White populations. Atlanta and Baltimore have large Black communities but few Hispanics. San Francisco has a large Asian community but relatively fewer Black or Hispanic residents. Boston and Minneapolis have large White communities but fewer Asian or Black residents.
One in four Houstonians is foreign-born—far more than the one in seven nationally. Among the nation’s 20 most populous metros, only five others—Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Washington, D.C.—have larger foreign-born populations than Houston.
Metro Houston has the youngest population among its peers. The median age in Houston is 34.6 years, which means half of all residents are younger and half are older. The median age for the nation is 38.2.
Houston’s young population translates into a large supply of entry-level and early-career workers to meet local hiring needs, a substantial base of consumers entering their household formation and wealth-acquisition years, and a large population open to social change.
Ten years ago, 28.2 percent of adults in metro Houston held a bachelor’s degree or higher. Today, 33.1 percent do. Nationwide, 32.6 percent of the adult population holds a bachelor’s or higher degree. Though Houston has made progress, the region lags its peers.
Houston’s lower educational attainment is a problem. When corporations consider a city for a relocation or investment, a well-educated workforce is as important as a low cost of doing business and well-developed infrastructure. Higher-skilled workers are also associated with higher levels of economic output. And Bureau of Labor Statistics research shows that the higher one’s level of educational attainment, the less likely they are to be unemployed and the higher their earning potential.
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Note: The geographic area referred to in this publication as “Houston,” "Houston Area” and “Metro Houston” is the nine-county Census designated metropolitan statistical area of Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX. The nine counties are: Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery and Waller.