Livingston, Texas - The Board of Directors of the Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) received an update on population trends in the State of Texas at their November meeting in Livingston. Newly appointed Texas State Demographer, Dr. Karl Eschbach, gave them a view of his projections for population growth in Texas, and Deep East Texas, for the next thirty years.
Dr. Eschbach started by noting that the population of the State of Texas has grown by the equivalent of Iowa's total population over the last seven years. Natural increases, meaning more births than deaths, as well as domestic and international migration have caused the population of Texas to increase by nearly three million people since 2000. After saying he was talking about a region more than a specific bounded area, Eschbach said the two largest areas for the increases were Houston and Dallas. He said the continued high growth rates in those areas depend on their maintaining their native population while continuing to attract migration. He also observed the next thirty years in Texas will experience the decline in the percentage of the Anglo population as the percentage of the Hispanic population increases. His projections show Hispanics being the majority in Texas as soon as 2027.
In talking about Deep East Texas, the same trends applied. "San Jacinto and Polk counties are projected to have healthy growth because they are the edge of the Houston region," said Eschbach. The less populated, more rural, counties to their north and east are losing population because they are having more deaths than births and are experiencing outward migration. However, he said the development of I-69 could contribute to growth in the counties along its path.
According to Dr. Eschbach, the challenge for the cities, counties and state is to provide the infrastructure to support this growth. This population growth will need roads, schools and health care facilities. He said Texas will also require an extraordinary educational effort from its schools, vocational schools and universities to keep its workforce competitive.
Before closing, Dr. Eschbach reminded everyone of the importance of a correct census count in 2010. He stressed that political reapportionment and government funding is determined by the census. It is important that every household not only receive a census questionnaire, but they complete it accurately and return it in a timely manner.