Data from the 2020 decennial census show that as the populations of Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto have increased over the past 10 years, they have become more diverse.
The population of the three cities increased significantly between 2010 and 20, with Hutto’s population nearly doubling. During this period, the growth of most non-white populations exceeded the growth of the general population.
Asian residents and those belonging to two or more races have grown particularly rapidly, in some cases doubling their share of the local population.
The increased diversity is in line with national trends, but experts and local officials point to a number of factors that account for growth and diversity at the local level.
From economic growth to people seeking refuge from explosive increases in the cost of living in Austin, experts in the region say the region will only attract more residents and likely lead to continued trends in the overall diversity of the region. population.
“The fact that we’re seeing an increase in that diversity in this area, I think, is a very powerful thing,” said Jason Ball, president of the Round Rock Chamber.
A multitude of economic opportunities is a major draw, according to Ball, who attributes much of the growing population to a jump in the opportunities available in the region.
“So many workers, so many families, so many individuals, so many students… are trying to get to central Texas to participate in the economic growth that is happening right now,” he said. declared.
Ball said the same economic growth, along with the Greater Austin area’s reputation for welcoming and embracing a variety of cultures, likely accounts for the increased diversity as well.
“I think the reason Williamson County is seeing a growth in diversity is the same reason that so many people of any race or ethnicity want to come here – because they are looking for economic and career opportunities. for themselves in a place where they can have the type of lifestyle they want, ”Ball said.
Henry Gideon, deputy superintendent of operations for Hutto ISD, said the arrival of companies, including Tesla, is fueling population growth and that growth in turn attracts more businesses to the region.
“Tesla, Apple, Amazon and potentially Samsung are creating a lot of movement in our region,” Gideon said. “This is in addition to existing and established high-tech attractions in Round Rock and Austin. As these jobs develop, there is naturally a growth in tertiary jobs which can be found in construction and tertiary type jobs.
Luis Torres, a research economist at the Texas Real Estate Center, said trends in median household income reflect this pattern, generally increasing over the past decade. However, Torres warned that increasing the region’s median income could create affordability issues for low-income residents in the future.
“People want to live there, the demand is high and it drives up prices,” Torres said.
While housing affordability will likely continue to be an issue in Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto, it still cannot compare to Austin.
Lila Valencia, demographer for the city of Austin, suspects that another reason for the growing diversity is that former Austin residents have moved to neighboring cities in central Texas, including the northern and northern quadrants. is.
Valencia said the high cost of living in Austin could push residents, especially residents of color, to move to more affordable places in surrounding areas.
“I think the unique pattern we’re seeing in much of the growth driven by the non-Hispanic white population is a combination of fewer people of color who can afford to live in the city,” Valencia said. “If you come from a relatively less affluent part of the state of Texas, you might not be able to afford Austin even if you wanted to live here.”
The data support Valence theory. Unlike Round Rock, Pflugerville, and Hutto, Austin’s Hispanic and African American populations both saw their share of the total population decline slightly from 2010 to 2020.
In 2010, Hispanic residents made up 35.1% of Austin’s population and African American residents made up 7.7%. In 2020, these figures fell to 32.5% and 6.9% respectively.
“It really adds to the idea that there might be some movement of African Americans and Hispanics who lived here in the city of Austin to these surrounding cities,” Valencia said.
Torres said the median cost of a home in 2021 in Hutto so far has been around $ 370,000, and in Pflugerville, $ 407,000.
In the Austin-Round Rock metropolitan statistical area, it is $ 450,000.
“If you compare Hutto to Austin-Round Rock, it’s a difference of $ 80,000,” Torres said. “So that shows you why I think you’ve seen this growth and population growth among minorities, because house prices are relatively cheaper. “
As the region continues to grow, especially in small towns such as Hutto, officials expect logistical challenges to arise in areas such as civic infrastructure, schools and public safety, among others.
“Often these small towns have smaller budgets, and when they are growing this fast, it can be very difficult to keep up with that rate of growth,” said Valencia.
Gideon said Hutto’s particularly explosive growth has created challenges for the school district as it attempts to respond to the growing population.
“[The growth] is fast and furious and it puts a lot of pressure on existing infrastructure to include utilities, roads and building new schools, ”Gideon said.
Round Rock, by comparison, has been developing for some time and managers are very familiar with the challenges that growth brings.
Ball said that for all the challenges that come with growth, it also brings resources that can help cities meet the challenges.
“Growth funds the solutions available to us, and without this growth we wouldn’t have as many options to maintain this quality of life for all of our residents,” said Ball.
Ultimately, Ball said growing up is ultimately a positive force, and growing pains are a challenge he’s happy to take on.
“It’s definitely the best problem to have,” Ball said. “There are many regions, especially in predominantly rural areas, that are experiencing population decline. As we try to find creative ways to manage this growth and do it in a sustainable way, there are other areas that do not have this opportunity.