According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Texas led the nation in population growth between 2000 and 2022 by gaining more than 9 million residents. The state’s population now tops 30 million. It remains the second most populous state in the nation, rivaled only by California. While the growth is a testament to Texas’s reputation as a wonderful place in which to live and raise children, it poses a substantial challenge for local governments.
What the census data say
The census revealed that six of the top 10 counties nationwide with the largest population gains were from Texas. The highest-ranking Texas county for numeric population growth is Bexar County, coming in at ninth nationwide. The highest-ranking county for percentage population growth is Comal County, also ranking ninth in the U.S.
The challenges of population growth
The growth is exciting, but cities and counties will have to address the many challenges posed by a greater population. Some of these issues include:
- Natural resource allocation
The distribution of natural resources among 9 million additional people is one of the most important concerns. Water, natural gas and oil are critical for every Texan. The state is a leader in oil and natural gas, but it may need to increase production efforts. A greater demand for water could threaten a drought, prompting municipalities to enforce water use restrictions.
- Real estate zoning
More people means more people who need housing. The residential real estate market for buyers is already tight, especially in metropolises such as Austin, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. The increased cost of living and stagnant wages also mean that many residents will be renting longer. With higher population density also comes a demand for more commercial real estate spaces.
- Caring for the young and the old
As the baby boomer generation heads toward its golden years, boomers will need assisted living facilities or nursing homes to accommodate them. As Gen Z and millennials become parents, their children will need schools. City and county officials must plan for the eventual need of long-term care housing. They must also decide whether to redistrict school zones and to find a balance of public, private and charter schools.