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Four Things You Should Know About Austin

Whether you were born in Austin or moved here just a few years ago, you’ve noticed extraordinary changes. Recently city demographer Ryan Robinson shared the latest trends he sees in our evolving city.

1. Sustained, rapid population and job growth. A magnet for entrepreneurs, the city has doubled in size every 20 years since the 1970s. The 11th largest city in the country, Austin enjoys the highest-performing economy in the U.S.

2. Profound diversification. Austin’s beautiful geographic setting and world-class university attract a well-educated population and an immigrant gateway.

  • About 47% of the city’s population is Non-Hispanic/White.
  • 35% of residents are Hispanic.
  • African Americans and Asians make up the remaining population equally (7% each), with the latter quite diverse.
  • The fastest growing age group in Austin is 55 and up and tends to be White.
  • In the greater Austin area, the fastest growing age group is under age 18 and tends to be Hispanic.

3. Stubborn socio-economic separations. Where you live still matters. This is the legacy of the 1928 City Plan that segregated the city and “red-lining” of the 1930s which prohibited mortgages to purchase homes in African American or Hispanic neighborhoods.

  • Despite the “whitening of the urban core,” a 2015 report named Austin the most economically segregated city in the country.
  • African Americans and Hispanics have a poverty rate more than twice that of Whites.

3. A shifting political landscape

  • Low family income and living in a neighborhood outside central Austin strongly correlate with lower voter turnout and voter registration.
  • That means that predominantly white upper-class voters determine outcomes on issues such as affordable housing, public transportation, libraries, health and parks.

Austin continues to be one of the fastest growing large urban regions in the nation but has this hyper-growth come at a cost to Austin’s enviable quality of life? The sustainability of Austin’s success and its future vibrancy will depend on how well Austin is able to integrate and celebrate our rich cultural diversity.