After a decade of being called the country's fastest-growing metro, Austin is about to learn early next year if the trend continues when census counts are released.
In anticipation, The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce revisited the latest U.S. Census migration insights in its latest economic report. Migration patterns help reveal where new Austin residents moved from and how that growth compares nationally.
Based on 2018-19 population estimates outlined in the report, Austin is now growing at 168 net new residents per day, mostly thanks to people who relocate here.
Here are three notable takeaways from the report:
1. Austin really is a 'Hotel California'
The cliche that Californians are flocking to the city has merit, based on the report takeaways.
California residents make up 8% of all migration to the Austin metropolitan area, according to 2014-18 U.S. Census survey data compiled by the chamber. That is significantly more than the next five states:
- California (8%)
- New York (3.3%)
- Florida (3.1%)
- Illinois (2.3%)
- Arizona (2.1%)
- Colorado (2.0)
But more than half (51.3%) of new Austin residents actually come from elsewhere in Texas, according to census survey data.
In total, 119,146 people migrated to Austin between 2014-18, a net gain of 25,769 residents. Most of these newcomers come from other Texas cities like Houston, Dallas and San Antonio, as well as from New York City and Los Angeles.
Ironically, California is also the top destination for Austin residents who relocate permanently, followed by Florida and Colorado.
2. No other city grew faster this decade
The percentage of Austin's population growth from 2010-19 exceeded every other metro area in America, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
In fact, Austin grew at a 10% faster rate than any other Texas city despite The Lone Star State making up four of the nation's six fastest-growing cities this decade:
- Austin (29.8%)
- Raleigh (23%)
- Orlando (22.2%)
- Houston (19.4%)
- San Antonio (19.1%)
- Dallas (19%)
Austin's consistent growth the past 10 years comes from various factors. Census data shows about 32,000 people move within the U.S. per year and another 6,850 relocate internationally annually. An additional 16,200 people per year come from natural increase (births minus deaths).
Raleigh is the only city to have a higher percentage (6.8%) than Austin (6.6%) of overall residents who relocated within the past year.
3. Relocations skyrocketed in 2019
The majority of the city's annual population increase comes from domestic migration, or people moving to Austin from other parts of the U.S. Between 2011-18, Austin gained 30,798 residents, on average, who relocated here.
But that number ballooned to 41,334 new residents in 2019, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates. That helped Austin reach a net population increase of 60,000 for the first time this decade.
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Austin parents and grocery store shelves are feeling the effects of a nationwide baby formula shortage.
Caused mostly by a February recall due to contamination issues, followed by the Abbott Nutrition factory closure in Michigan, the shortage has left Austin shelves barren. However, earlier this week, U.S. officials announced a plan with the facility to restart production.
In the meantime, local parents in crisis have turned toward the Mother’s Milk Bank to keep their babies fed.
HEB on East 7th has been picked clean of formula and is limiting purchases. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
The milk bank—which takes donations from lactating mothers and dispenses milk to babies in the NICU—has been helping feed upwards of 30 families in need as the formula supply tightens.
According to the bank’s executive director Kim Updegrove, Mother’s Milk Bank has seen an uptick in calls from parents with healthy babies in need of help since the shortage began.
“We aren't used to hearing from families with healthy infants,” Updegrove said. “They're typically very upset, angry, frustrated, sobbing—it's scary to not be able to feed your infants. So in the past few weeks, those calls have been significantly increasing.”
Mothers are only able to donate if they are within a year postpartum, so Updegrove said they are constantly bringing on and retiring donors. While donors had been on a 30% decline leftover from 2021 when the shortage began, Updegrove said the shortage has led to mass community interest and more than 90 prospective donors in just the past few days.
“We and other milk banks are experiencing significant interest from the community—becoming milk donors and helping to turn around this crisis,” Updegrove said. “Every infant needs to be fed, every one of us can relate to that need, and we need to make sure as a community that it happens.”
Whole Foods downtown was also cleaned out of typical formula. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
While you may still be able to find formula at places like Whole Foods—which currently has goat milk, soy and plant-based formula in stock—Updegrove said it might not be what a baby needs.
Updegrove said it is best to buy types that say “infant formula,” as they are FDA approved and will provide the nutrients, vitamins and minerals a baby needs. Plant-based, homemade, non-cow's milk or diluting formula may not provide the same nutritional value.
As the community navigates the shortage, Updegrove said the most important way to help out is to not panic buy or stockpile.
“This is a crisis for families,” Updegrove said. “This is the time for the community to gather together and figure out what everyone can do to help families with young infants.”
Next time you’re sitting at a red light in Austin, you may look over and see a car without a person at the driver’s wheel.
Autonomous vehicle tech company Argo AI has brought driverless operations to Austin and Miami, starting out with only company employees using the service. Later on, tests with Lyft and Walmart will carry out ride-sharing and grocery delivery services, with the help of a human safety operator. The company has already made moves on this front in Miami Beach where some Lyft passengers have used its autonomous vehicles with a human operator.
While its platform is designed for integration with multiple vehicle types, the test fleet uses the Ford Escape Hybrid and VW's all-electric ID.Buzz.
The Pittsburgh-based company says this progress on its autonomy platform has been more than five years in the making and boasted about reaching this milestone before others.
"Argo is first to go driverless in two major American cities, safely operating amongst heavy traffic, pedestrians and bicyclists in the busiest of neighborhoods," said Bryan Salesky, Founder and CEO of Argo AI.
Expect to see the autonomous cars on the road during daytime business hours as the tech aims to learn from a diversity of road infrastructure and driving behaviors.
The company, which is testing in eight cities in the U.S. and Europe, has brought its tech to Austin as the company looks to expand in densely-populated cities. In particular, Argo is looking at ridesharing, delivery and logistics companies for integrating its autonomous vehicles into their digital services.
Argo anticipates its service availability to someday cover more than 15 million people in Austin, Miami and Washington D.C.
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