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Bayou Business Download: Population Shifts in the Houston Region; Where is Growth Occurring?

Published Sep 20, 2021 by A.J. Mistretta

People walking in downtown Houston

In this episode of the Partnership's Bayou Business Download podcast, we discuss changes in the population in the metro region. What counties in the area are growing and which parts of the metro are stagnating or actually losing population? In addition, we consider what effect these shifts will have on job centers, transportation infrastructure and the education system among other things. 

For this episode we're joined by special guest Bill Fulton, Director of Rice University's Kinder Institute for Urban Research. 

Topics covered include: 

  • Houston's population movement over the last decade
  • Harris County's population changes during the same period
  • A look at Fort Bend and Montgomery counties
  • How the Houston region population dynamic compares with other major U.S. metros 

See other recent podcast episodes here and subscribe so you don't miss upcoming episodes. 

Related News


Houston Metro Population Surpasses 7.1M, Region Adding 250 People a Day

Metro Houston saw the third-largest increase in population growth in the U.S. for the year that ended June 30, 2020, according to the latest data from the Census Bureau.  The Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land MSA added more than 91,000 residents during the 12-month period. That’s the biggest numerical increase behind the Dallas-Fort Worth (119,748) and Phoenix (106,008) metro areas. The new figures put the metro area’s population over 7.1 million residents. Next year’s estimate should push the region over the 7.2 million mark.  Domestic migration, or new residents moving from elsewhere in the U.S., was positive in 2020 and marginally positive in 2019, following two years of losses in 2017 and 2018 thanks to a weak economy and Hurricane Harvey. Nearly 20,000 individuals already in the U.S. moved to the area last year, following about 6,000 the year prior. But over the last five years the larger increases were in international migration. More than 175,000 residents have moved here from abroad since 2016, including 24,587 last year alone.  The other factor contributing to population growth of course is the natural one. Births minus deaths in the most recent period totaled just over 46,700. That natural increase is the lowest its been in the last decade. The slightly lower birth rate and higher death rate for 2020 can presumably be tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Breaking it all down, about 122 people a day on average moved here last year and another 128 people were added to the population naturally. In other words, the Houston metro area added 250 people a day for the most recent period.  Learn more about the Houston region’s population and what it means to live in Houston.   
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Houston Maintains Position as Most Diverse City in Nation

Houston has long been considered one of the youngest, fastest-growing, and most diverse cities in the nation— one with no ethnic majority and where nearly one-in-four residents are foreign-born. For the second year in a row, one ranking in particular has positioned Houston as the most diverse city in the nation. The report from personal finance site WalletHub compared 501 of the most populated cities in the nation, ranking them across five key dimensions: socioeconomic diversity, cultural diversity, economic diversity, household diversity, and religious diversity. “It’s important to embrace diversity – and it’s good for the economy, too. Not only have waves of immigration changed the face of the nation, they’ve also brought in fresh perspectives, skills and technologies to help the U.S. develop a strong adaptability to change. Economies generally fare better when they openly embrace and capitalize on new ideas,” explained WalletHub. While not reaching the top-spot of any one category, Houston ranked No. 1 overall with a diversity score of 71.87.  Here is how Houston scored in the 5 categories:  •    Socioeconomic Diversity: 96 •    Cultural Diversity: 31 •    Economic Diversity: 125 •    Household Diversity: 136 •    Religious Diversity: 53 “There is a consistent pattern in the literature that diversity (whether that is measured by race, religion, or immigration status) tends to lead to greater productivity and growth in cities,” Ryan Muldoon, Director of Undergraduate Studies; Associate Professor, Director of Philosophy, Politics and Economics Program, Department of Philosophy, College of Arts and Sciences at University at Buffalo, The State University of New York told WalletHub when asked if there is a relationship between diversity and economic growth in cities.  According to research from the Greater Houston Partnership, Houston is the fourth most populous city in the U.S. city and had a population of 2,320,268 as of July 1, 2019, and nearly one in four Houstonians was born outside the U.S. Among the 1,648,768 foreign-born in the Houston metro area, 73.5% entered the U.S. before 2010.  A number of reports and analyses in recent years have named Houston among the most diverse cities in the U.S., often putting the Bayou City in the top spot.  WalletHub conducted their analysis by using the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index method, which is a commonly accepted measure of market concentration that also works effectively as a general-purpose measure of diversity.  Learn more about Houston’s demographics here.  Learn more about living in Houston here. 
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