View of downtown San Antonio from UTSA Downtown Campus. Courtesy photo.
View of downtown San Antonio from UTSA's Downtown Campus. Courtesy photo.

Big U.S. cities and counties with more than one million people are attracting new residents at a faster rate than mid-size and small cities, U.S. Census data released last week shows, and Texas cities dominate just about every category in the data, which tracks growth from July 2012 to July 2013. The energy boom has brought accelerated growth to the Great Plains states and the Gulf Coast, the report concludes.

Bexar County added 32,000 people during that 12-month period and ranked sixth among the nation’s Top 10 counties that added the most people. Harris County ranked first and Tarrant County ranked eighth. Houston also was first in the nation for total number of people added to its city population, while Dallas was third, with New York City sandwiched between the two.

Click here to review the U.S. Census report.

Richard Florida, the co-founder and editor-at-large of Atlantic Cities, took a deeper, three-year look at the trend and found the rate of big city growth was even more pronounced  from 2010-13, and that Austin, Raleigh, San Antonio and Houston grew at the fastest rates. Big cities grew at an average rate of 3.2%, Florida reported, while all other cities at 2.4%.

Austin grew by 9.7%, which is extraordinary. Raleigh grew by 7.4% and San Antonio and Houston grew by more 6%, all remarkable growth rates by any measure.

While the U.S. Census snapshot attributes the growth patterns to the energy boom, Florida goes one step further and said the fastest-growing cities are attracting people to new energy jobs and to knowledge jobs. That description certainly fits San Antonio.

The Eagle Ford Shale Play has added thousands of jobs to the city and regional economy and tech growth at Rackspace, in cybersecurity and in the startup economy all continue to produce new jobs and opportunities to attract local and international talent.

The Peer 1 tank at the Pearl Brewery. Photo by Andrew Moore.
The Peer 1 tank at the Pearl Brewery. Photo by Andrew Moore.

Two stories on today’s Rivard Report are instructive of the trend. Peer 1 Puts Down Roots in San Antonio’s Pearl Brewery is about the first wave of tech jobs to come to the Pearl. “The Boom” is a review of Wall Street Journal senior energy reporter Russell Gold’s book documenting how fracking is transforming the global energy economy. A lot of that story unfolds in South Texas. Gold will be a featured author at Saturday’s San Antonio Book Festival.

For supporters of Mayor Julián Castro’s “Decade of Downtown” the new data reinforces the validity of public policies that incentivize urban core investment and development. The growth in residential density attracts creative class workers, meaning fewer young, talented locals feel compelled to move away from San Antonio and more non-natives migrate to the city. The more who live here, it seems, the more others want to come. It certainly looked that way at Síclovía Sunday as tens of thousands of people in and on everything except cars filled Southtown, Lone Star, and the Mission Reach.

Síclovía 2014. Photo by Page Graham.
Síclovía 2014 in Southtown, San Antonio. Photo by Page Graham.

Related Stories:

BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Boom’ by Russell Gold

Peer 1 Puts Down Roots in San Antonio’s Pearl Brewery

Conversation: Rackspace President Confident Amid Cloud of Doubters

Mexico’s Energy Reforms Could Trigger Cross-Border Boom

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Robert Rivard

Robert Rivard, co-founder of the San Antonio Report, is now a freelance journalist.