Census Data Show Declining Populations, Apart From Texas Tech Boom

MANHATTAN (CN) — More than half of U.S. counties had smaller populations in 2019 as compared with 2010, but in Texas, as so often happens, things got bigger, according to census data published Thursday.

The numbers appear in what the U.S. Census Bureau says its last population estimate until it issues the results of the decennial count households across the country began receiving earlier this month. As the data show, 1,683 counties (53%) lost population between 2010 and 2019, compared with the 1,459 counties (46%) where populations grew.

Texas is home to most of the counties with the largest population gains this decade, but the No. 1 title went to Williams County, North Dakota.

Located in the northwest of the state, about 60 miles south of the Canadian border, Williams County saw its population rise by 67% from 22,399 in 2010 to 37,589 in 2019 after an oil boom.

Percent Population Change  by County and Municipio: 2010 to 2019
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Many of America’s fastest-growing counties were in the West and the South, according to the population estimate for July 1, 2019, but in the Northeast county populations largely declined.

Rural counties in New York state suffered the sharpest population drops since 2010.

The upstate counties that lost people at the fastest rate since 2010 are heavily rural, including Essex (6.3%) in northern New York, as well as Chemung (6%) and Chautauqua (5.9%) along the state’s Southern Tier.

Two Binghamton-area counties, Chenango and Delaware, were among those with the highest rate of loss in the nine-year period, at 6.5% and 8%, respectively.

Hamilton County in the Adirondacks, the least populous county in the state, posted a state-high 8.8% drop.

While the greater New York-Newark-Jersey City metropolitan area is still the most populous in the country, with over 19 million inhabitants, New York City saw slight population loss.

Long Island’s two counties, Suffolk and Nassau, saw recent slight declines in their population as well.

Following a decade-long trend, Nassau County saw a decline of 610 residents, while Suffolk County lost 4,229 residents between 2018 and 2019.

On the other side of the graph, the population of Hays County, Texas, grew by nearly half over the last decade, from 157,103 in 2010 to more than 230,000 residents in 2019, making it the second fastest-growing county in the country.

Hays County is located on I-35 between San Antonio and Austin, the state capital, where a booming technology sector has grown nearly 30% in the past 10 years.

Comal, Kendall and Williamson counties in Texas also made the Census Bureau’s top 10 list by percentage growth.

Six Texas counties also represented the Lone Star state in the top 10 counties by numeric growth of population: Harris, Tarrant, Bexar, Dallas, Collin and Travis all made the top 10.

Texas was home to three of top 10 metropolitan areas with the largest gains in population between 2010 and 2019. The Dallas-Arlington-Fort Worth area had the largest numeric growth, with its population increasing by 1,206,599 (19.0%), followed by Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land area increasing by 1,145,654 (19.4%), and the greater Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown area grew by 510,760 people (29.8%).

Beyond those six Texas counties, the remaining four counties on the top 10 were all located in the American West: Maricopa County, Arizona; King County, Washington; Clark County, Nevada; and Riverside County, California.

Maricopa led counties in numeric growth, gaining more than 668,000 residents since 2010, with a population of 4.4 million in 2019.

“One interesting trend we have seen this decade is widespread population decline among smaller counties, while larger counties tended to have population growth,” said Christine Hartley, a demographer in the Census Bureau’s Population Division.

“Three out of four counties with a population of less than 10,000 in 2010 had even smaller populations in 2019,” she said. “At the same time, three out of four counties of 50,000 or more were larger in 2019 compared to 2010.”

The data in Thursday’s report came from surveys of 3,142 counties and county equivalents in the United States.

Notwithstanding any potential complication from the coronavirus pandemic, the Census Bureau plans to release data from the 2020 census beginning

this December and running all through 2021.

For the remainder of this year meanwhile, the Census Bureau will further detail July 1, 2019 population estimates by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin. Puerto Rico and its municipios will be included in the age and sex population estimates. “These estimates include counties and cities affected by the 2017 hurricane season,” the bureau says.

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