DALLAS — The Dallas-Fort Worth area continues to grow rapidly across all racial and ethnic groups, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, with Asian growth rates leading the way through the first three years of the decade.
In Denton County, the Asian population expanded by a greater percentage than the other four counties in the metropolitan area.
The non-Hispanic white population had the most modest growth rates — even a net loss in Dallas County — and sent demographers buzzing about a turnaround for counties with large urban populations.
“Let’s look at Dallas County,” said Dr. Steve Murdock, director of the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas at Rice University. “There was growth in the Asian population, no doubt about it. But we also see a turnaround in growth in the non-Hispanic white population.”
While Dallas County showed a loss of 1,436 non-Hispanic whites from the 2010 Census through July 1, 2013, that’s minuscule compared with losses in the previous decade, Murdock said.
“If you had the same pattern going on as you had in the last decade, you would have lost a good number more,” he said. “At this rate, you might lose 5,000 over this decade, compared with the loss of 198,000 over the last decade. We’re seeing the same thing in Harris County, where it changed from a negative to a positive.”
While non-Hispanic whites continue to move to suburbs, it could be that some younger folks and empty nesters are finding urban centers more attractive for lifestyle reasons. And, demographers say, those leaving are being replaced by others looking for jobs, either from other parts of Texas or out of state.
“When you look at the state level,” said Dr. Lloyd Potter, the Texas state demographer, “we’re seeing positive immigration of non-Hispanic whites.”
The splashy numbers, though, came from growth rates in the Asian population — up 20 percent in Denton County, 18.5 percent in Rockwall, 18.1 percent in Collin, 14.9 percent in Dallas and 10.8 percent in Tarrant over the last three years — in many ways a continuation of the trends from 2000-2010, when Asians and Hispanics were the two fastest-growing groups in the state.
Hispanic growth rates were still double-digit in Collin, Denton and Rockwall counties — 11.2 percent, 13.7 percent and 14 percent respectively for the three-year period — “but the rate of growth is down in Collin” compared with the previous decade, Murdock said.
The data provides some positive signs for the coming years, too, Potter said.
“I looked at [the three years individually] and when I looked at Harris County, the rate of change for 2012-2013 increased a little more than it had in the previous two years,” he said. “It has momentum, and the momentum has picked up a bit.”
The Texas economy gets most of the credit for that, Potter said.
“In the areas that are growing economically, in the areas where there is job growth, that’s where we’re seeing the greatest in-migration of Asians,” he said.
The non-Hispanic black population is growing rapidly as well — up 19.6 percent in Denton, 18.1 percent in Collin, 12.5 percent in Rockwall, 10 percent in Tarrant and 5.8 percent in Dallas.
Much of the growth across the region and the state comes from migration, Potter and Murdock agreed, and that migration is driven largely by employment.
“Overall, I think we’re seeing that Hispanic growth rates are down, but the non-Hispanic white losses have been significantly reversed,” said Murdock, a former director of the U.S. Census.
He used Travis County as an example.
“From 2000-2010, Travis County added about 59,000 non-Hispanic whites,” Murdock said. “This time, it has added 41,000 non-Hispanic whites in the first three years,” an annual rate that roughly doubles that of the previous decade.
The migration of job-seekers to Texas has changed the place in another way, too, Potter said. The state is getting older.
In 2010, the typical Texan was 33.6 years old — 32.6 for males, 34.6 for females. That climbed to an average of 33.8 in 2011, 33.9 in 2012 and 34 in 2013.
“When you look at the median age of migrants, it tends to be a little older than the median age of the population,” Potter said, “and that does contribute to our rising median age.