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Austin leads Heartland metros in foreign-born population growth

Austin is one of the leading Heartland metros when it comes to foreign-born population growth, according to a new report from the Arkansas-based think tank Heartland Forward. (Shutterstock)

Austin's foreign-born population grew by nearly 40% between 2010 and 2019, placing it among the most attractive Heartland metros among immigrants and ensuring the city's future as one of the country's critical economic hubs, according to a recent report published by Heartland Forward.


The Arkansas-based think tank studied foreign-born population growth in the American Heartland—a 20-state region that stretches from the Appalachians to the Rockies. The area has seen its share of the foreign-born population rise from 23.5% in 2010 to 31.1% in 2019 and may be supplanting historic immigration hubs such as New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The 20-state Heartland region stretches from the Appalachians to the Rockies. (Heartland Forward)

Heartland metros such as Austin offer relatively low costs of living, economic opportunity and a spirit of friendliness, in contrast to the region's profile as "a hotbed of nativist and xenophobic attitudes." This demographic trend is good news, according to Heartland Forward, because it:

  • Lessens pressure on overcrowded areas
  • Reverses the population loss and rapid aging previously seen across the Heartland
  • Helps fill gaps in the U.S. labor market and fuel economic growth

Texas is one outlier among Heartland states in that its population has been steadily growing for decades. More recently, this growth has been mostly driven by an increase in the state's Hispanic population, which grew by more than 2 million people between 2010 and 2020, according to estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau last June.

(Heartland Forward)

The Heartland's largest metropolitan areas, which include Austin, Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth, stand to benefit most from this immigration wave. The influx of foreign-born residents helps fill gaps in the region's labor market, from the blue-collar manufacturing sector to big tech.

The report cites a recent Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis study, which found that as many as half of all manufacturing workers in Texas are foreign-born. It also points to the pandemic migration of Bay Area tech companies to Heartland metros, including Austin. The Texas capital offers a relatively affordable cost of living and a rapidly growing economy, which appeals to corporations, workers and entrepreneurs.

Foreign-born population growth may also attract another desirable contingent to Heartland metros: millennials. Austin already ranks highly among 25- to -40-year olds, in part thanks to the diversity it offers.

These demographic shifts may lead to changing attitudes in Heartland states, which are increasingly dependent on population growth for economic success. "The reduction in immigration caused by policy changes and the pandemic hit many Heartland industries with severe labor shortages, from restaurants to farms, factories and hospitals," according to the report.

Heartland Forward argues it is critical that Heartland metros help immigrants integrate through better access to municipal services, English language training and job opportunities. If they do so, the region could reverse decades of decline and return to the enterprising hubs they once were.

Popular

Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.

Mac and Cheese Fest and Free Art Exhibit
Waterloo Greenway, Good Vibrations Installation


🗓 All weekend

🎨 Creek Show Art Exhibit

Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities

All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park

✨ Mozart's Light Show

This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.

6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

🗓 Saturday

🥊 Kickboxing in the Park

This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.

10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park

🛍 The Front Market

Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.

11 a.m - 5 p.m | 📍Ani's Day and Night - 7107 E Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78741

🗓 Sunday

🧀 Mac and Cheese Fest

Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.

11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway