Sun Belt Cities saw Diverse Growth in 2020

Kinder Institute for Urban Research   (Houston)
Neighborhood Nexus   (Atlanta)

February 2022

Two NNIP partners, Neighborhood Nexus in Atlanta and Rice University’s Kinder Institute in Houston, found from 2020 decennial census data that their Sun Belt cities continued to grow from 2010 to 2020. The 2020 picture of Texas summarized Kinder's data analysis, finding that Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin metro areas are responsible for 88 percent of Texas's population growth (4 million new people to the state). While Houston and Dallas both saw an increase of about 1.2 million people, Austin grew the fastest at 33 percent. A second blog from Kinder on population density in Texas cities highlighted that Houston, Dallas, and Austin's metropolitan density increased. Using Jed Kolko's data on weighted population density at the census tract level, Kinder showed that Houston is the most dense city in Texas, and its population density increased 19 percent in the past decade. Yet Texas cities' population densities are still far behind New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. 

In line with Texas cities and the national trend, Neighborhood Nexus found in Examining change in the 11-county area that Atlanta's metropolitan region saw a 16 percent population increase. A decade of change: population and demographics in Metro Atlanta used data visualizations and tables to examine the 11-county regional trends, noting that Forsyth, a northeast suburb, is one of the fastest growing counties in the country. Neighborhood Nexus also compared the average household size across the Atlanta metro from 1990 to 2020 in Sizing Up Trends in Household (Size). Their charts show that household size is declining in the region, core counties, and the city of Atlanta, albeit at a smaller decline than from 1990 to 2010. 

People of color make up a majority of the population growth in Atlanta and Texas cities. In the past 10 years, 95 percent of all of Texas' growth is attributed to people of color, with Hispanics accounting for half of the growth. Fort Bend, a southwest suburb of Houston, is the fifth most diverse county in the country.[i] In the Atlanta metro, non-Hispanic white people decreased by 7.1 percent and are now the majority in only 3 of the 11 counties in the region. Neighborhood Nexus found that non-Hispanic other race is the fastest growing group in the Atlanta region (2.3 percent), while at the city-level Dacula saw the greatest change in one racial group, a 16.8 percent increase in the share of Black people

[i] Based on the Diversity Index, which expresses the likelihood that, when any two random people are selected from the population, that they are from different ethnic and racial groups.

More From Partner: