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Bayou Business Download: Latest Population and Demographic Data for Houston

Published Jan 24, 2021 by A.J. Mistretta


In the first episode of Bayou Business Download in 2021, we take a look at the latest findings in the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which examines at the social, demographic and economic characteristics of the nation. We’ll discuss what the latest figures tell us about Houston and how this region compares with others around the country. 

Here's a breakdown of some of the ACS findings discussed in this episode. 


Houston added nearly 1.1 million residents from the start of the decade to the middle of 2019. The bulk of the growth came from the Hispanic community (582,000 residents), followed by Blacks (191,000), Asians (166,000), and the White/Anglo population (120,000). Houston’s Hispanic population surpassed the White/Anglo
population in 2017 and now represents our largest ethnic group. No race or ethnicity comprises a majority of the population, however.


Houston ranks fifth in foreign-born population, behind metro New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago. Over two-thirds (68.2%) of Houston’s Asian population, one-third (37.2%) of our Hispanic population, 10.0% of our Black population and 5.6% of the Anglo population was born outside the U.S. The share of foreign-born Houstonians has grown  from 22.3 percent in ’10 to 23.4 percent in ’19.

Age Breakdown 

Metro Houston has one of the youngest populations in the nation. The region’s median age is 34.9, compared to 38.5 for the U.S. overall. The average for the 50 most populous metros is 38.1. Houston is second only to Salt Lake City (33.2) in median age. (Note: the median is the point at which half of the population falls below that age and half above it.) During the past decade, Houston’s population has also grown older. In 2010, the region’s median age was nearly two years younger than it is today.

Educational Attainment 

Houstonians are better educated now than at the start of the decade, with more residents completing high school and attending college than 10 years ago. This bodes well for future economic growth. A well-educated workforce is a top criterion when corporations making decisions to relocate or expand operations. 

Participation in the Labor Force 

The labor force participation rate is the share of the working age population who are either currently employed or those who are unemployed but actively seeking work. The U.S. rate peaked at 67.3%  in early 2000 and has trended downward since. In April, it had fallen to 60.2%. It has since marginally recovered and in December stood at 61.5%.

Poverty Rate 

Houston has gained ground in the war on poverty. Nearly one in eight (12.9%) Houston families lived in poverty in 2019, down from one in six (16.5%) in 2010.  In 2010, Houston was coming out of the Great Recession, a downturn where 120,000 Houstonians lost their jobs, so poverty rates were unusually high. In 2019, Houston was on the tail end of the longest economic expansion in the nation’s history, so poverty rates were unusually low back then. Over 350,000 Houstonians lost their jobs in the recent pandemic, so local poverty rates will likely be elevated when the ACS data for 2020 is released.

Check out the latest edition of Houston: The Economy at a Glance for more details. 

This is a podcast from the Greater Houston Partnership where we dive into the data and analytics influencing the region’s economy.


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Gone is the luxury of "just-in-time hiring" and hoping to find talent for immediate needs, according to Tamla Oates-Forney, senior vice president and chief people officer for Fortune 500 company Waste Management.  “We have to be more intentional about determining what we’re going to need and when we’re going to need it, when we need to hire, and the skills we need to develop,” she said during a Partnership Restart Houston event focused on upskilling and reskilling the region’s workforce for the post-pandemic economy. Louise Wiggins, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) partner and managing director, joined Oates-Forney in the conversation, moderated by Peter Beard, Partnership senior vice president of regional workforce development and leader of its UpSkill Houston initiative. Wiggins presented three trends emerging from the ongoing digital transformation of work and reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic with big implications for businesses and organizations large and small: Skills are becoming obsolete more quickly, requiring individuals to re-invent themselves by obtaining new skills. The growing integration of automation and AI is changing what jobs are needed and how those jobs are done. The pace of change has accelerated, making it harder to predict what jobs will be in demand in the future. These trends mean companies must strategically and proactively prepare for an unknown future by focusing on upskilling employees for expanded career pathways and by reconsidering their value propositions. The Partnership’s UpSkill Houston initiative can help employers work together and strengthen talent pipelines for their industries and businesses. 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The pandemic emerged amid concerns among workers across industries, job fields and geographies of being replaced by technology; the study shows that anxiety has grown for more than 40 percent of workers globally. More than 70 percent of workers in job roles that faced the greatest risk of replacement – and that felt the worst displacement due to COVID-19 – indicated a willingness to retrain. (UpSkill Houston’s “Navigating the Changing Nature of Work” report discusses this risk within the greater Houston region.) Oates-Forney described how the pandemic-driven adoption of digital technologies are playing out across Waste Management. Distancing rules altered the way drivers clocked in and out; they no longer line up to use a time clock but instead track their time using mobile devices (and learned how to do so), she said. 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To learn more about membership with the Greater Houston Partnership click here or contact  The Partnership’s UpSkill Houston initiative works to strengthen the talent pipeline employers need to grow their businesses and to help all Houstonians build relevant skills and connect to good careers that increase their economic opportunity and mobility. Learn how.  
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