Welcome to DFW
Only two Texas counties are attracting more out-of-state residents than Tarrant County. According to a data analysis released December 9 by StorageCafé, Tarrant ranked third for most relocations from different states in 2017. Harris County was first, and Dallas County was second.
In 2017, Tarrant County picked up 44,181 new arrivals. Next-door Dallas County welcomed 47,336 out-of-state arrivals. StorageCafé based its analysis on data published last year by the U.S. Census Bureau. The analysis excludes new arrivals from other Texas counties and new arrivals from outside the U.S.
Two other DFW counties, Collin and Denton, ranked sixth and seventh, respectively, in StorageCafé’s list of the top 10 Texas counties. Collin County saw 24,918 new out-of-state arrivals in 2017, with Denton County at 22,190.
All told, the four DFW counties in Texas’ top 10 absorbed 138,625 new out-of-state residents in 2017. By comparison, 138,541 people lived in Denton in 2018, the Census Bureau says.
From 2010 to 2018, Dallas-Fort Worth added more residents — over 1.11 million, or a growth rate of 17.3 percent — than any other major metro area in the country, according to the Census Bureau. In terms of the sheer number of new residents, DFW eclipsed Houston during that period, but Houston held a slight edge for percentage growth.
At No. 1, Harris County welcomed more new out-of-state arrivals — 81,781 — than any other county in Texas in 2017. That influx stands to reason, since Harris County is the state’s largest county as measured by population (more than 4 million and counting).
The Houston area added nearly 1.08 million residents between 2010 and 2018, growing at a rate of 18.2 percent, according to Census Bureau figures cited by the Greater Houston Partnership. From 2017 to 2018 alone, the region’s population jumped by 91,689 — the third largest increase in the country — to just shy of 7 million.
Although the StorageCafé analysis indicates a Texas-leading population spike, Bill Fulton, director of Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, notes that Harris County has experienced an overall decline in population growth since 2015.
“This is not surprising given the drop in oil prices, which led to economic stagnation in Houston,” Fulton tells CultureMap.
Fulton points out that Harris County’s population gains don’t match the combined growth of the Dallas-Fort Worth area’s two biggest counties — Dallas and Tarrant. Dallas County has about 2.6 million residents, while Tarrant County (Fort Worth) has a little over 2 million. That’s a total of about 4.6 million, compared with Harris County’s nearly 4.7 million residents.
Together, Dallas and Tarrant counties drew more than 91,500 new out-of-state residents in 2017, beating the total for Harris County.
“Don’t be deceived into thinking that because Harris County has a much greater population increase than any other county, that, therefore, metro Houston is growing a lot faster than DFW,” Fulton says. “If you add the Dallas and Tarrant numbers together, it clearly shows that DFW is still attracting more [newcomers] than Houston.”
“The bottom line is: For the past several years, DFW has been growing faster than Houston, and that growth has been driven by [more newcomers] from other states,” Fulton adds.
Elsewhere in the state, Bexar County, which anchors the San Antonio metro area, claimed the No. 4 spot in the StorageCafé ranking, attracting 41,062 out-of-state newcomers in 2017.
Just behind it, at No. 5, was Travis County, which anchors the Austin metro area. The StorageCafé data shows 33,939 people relocated to Travis County from out of state in 2017. Rounding out the top 10 was Williamson County (suburban Austin), with 15,712 out-of-state newcomers.
Combined, Travis and Williamson counties gained close to 50,000 out-of-staters in 2017. By comparison, Pflugerville was home to 59,245 residents in 2018, according to the Census Bureau.
Others in the top 10 were El Paso County at No. 8 and Bell County (home of Killeen and Temple) at No. 9.