Demographics of Austin Texas – 2010

Last night, Ryan Robinson, City of Austin demographer, gave an inspirational and engaging presentation about the Top 10 Demographic Trends of Austin, Texas for 2010.The title of the presentation was “Making Sense of the Census,” and the presentation was given to the Austin Hacks and Hackers group (where journalists and programmers meet). The presentation slides and my notes are below.

Slides from the Presentation

Demographic Trends of Austin, Texas in 2010

Quote: “Don’t let Census data kick your ass”

2 Basic Demographic Data sets from the Census Bureau

1. Census 2010 Decennial data

  • Every 10 years
  • Only the short form
  • 12 total questions
  • Not answering the Census form is silly, ‘cause Amazon & Google know more about you then Census Bureau
  • Travesty of demographics that we don’t have long form data
  • 1 reason took away long form – survey fatigue
  • Data: population, race, age, household & housing
  • Geographies: blocks, block groups, tracts, counties
  • Census block is about as big as a city block in inside a city. Outside urban areas, a Census block becomes the smallest polygon you can mechanically create using roads, rivers, county lines, etc.
  • Today, Austin has received redistricting data. We’re waiting on SF1 data for Texas.

2. American Community Survey (ACS) Data

  • Get new data every year for big places.
  • But small area data only comes to us in 5 year pieces
  • Sample size is tiny — 1.8% of households
  • Difficult to compare from 5 year composite to 1 year data
  • Data: socio-economic including income, poverty education, migration, employment, journey to work

Top 10 Demographic Trends for Austin Texas – 2010

1. Huge population growth during the decade

  • Austin at/near top of fastest growing cities for 4 decades
  • Austin is 14th largest city in US
  • 1/2 million gained in MSA (metropolitan statistical area) in past decade
  • 35th largest MSA in US
  • All MSAs are comprised of counties
  • Heart of MSA is a commuting shed
  • Probably see inclusion of Burnet and Blanco
  • Austin 3rd fastest growing MSA by percent from 2000 to 2010
  • Austin 11th largest net growth MSA

2. A decidedly suburban tilt to the decade’s population growth, more so than in the past

  • Population Growth: 71% suburban (non central city), 29% urban (central city)
  • in 1990s, these numbers were half and half
  • 37.3% of city’s growth came from annexation

3. A lumpy landscape of population growth and decline (especially within the central city).

  • Central City of Austin actually declining in population
  • Positives
    • Airport area
    • West Campus (result of University Neighborhood overlay – let’s bring the UT kids back to campus, dense & tall)A
    • Triangle
    • Downtown. 130% increase in population. Why? Different distinct groups, not just 1 group moving into downtown.
  • Under age 18 population growth
    • Westlake & South Austin — empty nesters
    • East Austin — gaining under 18 year olds

Ideas on why the demographic lumpiness

  • Flight of middle class families from central city
  • Drop in overall household size…many to one phenomenon
    • Single professionals replacing families
    • Some say developers aren’t bringing variety of housing for individuals (why aren’t singles buying condos?)
  • Steep increases in cost of central city housing.. which gives central families a twofer
    • Austin Contrarian blog
    • Some say McMansion ordinances are antifamily = older people without kids buy McMansions
    • Housing in Austin: locals think it’s not affordable, outsiders think it’s cheap
  • Large scale changes in racial make up of central neighborhoods
  • Census 2000 vs Census 2010 increase in vacant units because of the housing market dynamics that were going on when the Census was taken
  • Housing stock dynamics – unequal tear-downs and rebuilds in terms of total units
  • Actually fewer housing units available
  • Tear down 4 plex – build 1 large single residence
  • Home Away phenomenon
  • 70% of Home Away units are permanently available for rent

4. Deep urban pooling and suburban sprawling of working-class and poor Hispanic households

  • Becoming Hispanic: Dove Springs, Runberg & Lamar and East Riverside
  • Majority Hispanic, families come in and get toehold but also isolating
  • Not necessarily negative, but reinforces existing divides?
  • Lower income areas in south east Travis county
  • Geocoding section 8 housing units – Concentrations east of I35, south of 290, Austin colony (food desert), Moores crossing [Kristen’s note–check out this slide in the presentation slides above. It’s very telling.]

5. Significant suburbanization of African American households

  • Disappearance of black east Austin
  • Loss in central east Austin tracts, gain in Round Rock, Pflugerville
  • Why? Idea: Rejection of urban segregated past — when reach middle class, blacks say “see ya” to urban area because of what it represents
  • But some cities have seen the opposite effect

6. Substantial increase in international immigration as a source of population growth, but this flow has slowed.

  • 1990-2000s: 28% natural, 65% domestic, 8% immigration
  • 2000s-2010s: 36% natural, 41% domestic, 23% immigrant
  • Some say that flow of migration come to a stop
  • Some say international immigration peaked in 2007 as construction peaked
  • You can get this immigration from ACS, but use with grain of salt

7. New chunks of growth for Austin’s age structure: the very young, baby boomers, and seniors.

  • Austin historically dominated by 20 & 30 cohorts
  • Change–more kids (< 18)
  • 1 in every 2 kids are Latino
  • Net terms: we have more folks with college degrees
  • Austin has 2 cultures – local & low education + high education moving in from elsewhere
  • Also, expansion of senior and pre senior demographics
  • Austin metro area fastest % growing of seniors, but 51st city for total baby boomers

8. The Asian Boom

  • Highest share (%) of total Asian population of any city in Texas
  • Indians fastest growing component
  • Preferred areas– Round Rock, north Austin, southern Williamson county

9. Population structural shifts: racial and ethnicity growth differentials (and the age component that comes with it)

  • Population: white, decrease black, huge increase Hispanic
  • Kids: white stable, black huge drop, Hispanic huge increase
  • Adults: strong white growth, small black growth, dominated Hispanic growth
  • In 10 years, more Asians in Austin than blacks

10. Profound racial and ethnic change in east Austin.
Gentrification? Or the city has 1 foot on the gas and 1 foot on the brake. Fixed income seniors and low income renters hurt by gentrification.

Tips when working with Demographic Data (ACS and Census 2010)

  • If you’re comparing large areas, use 1 year ACS data.
  • Only use 5 year composites when looking at tiny errors OR concerned about margin of error (MOE)
  • MOE are very difficult to communicate!
  • Get Census data in much more straightforward fashion:
  • American Fact Finder is confusing, because there’s a legacy factfinder
  • Beast from hell => new factfinder. Ryan swears it’s unusable
  • Aggregating the 2010 data back to the Census 2000 tract level: figure out the 2000 parent tract, sum the child tract

This Presentation Inspired Me & What I’m Going to Do About It Today

The presentation was engaging, because Ryan told the story behind the numbers of how Austin is shifting and he was talking about a topic that is near and dear to the audience’s hearts — the city of Austin.

But I found the presentation to be inspiring as well. As Ryan was apologizing for the simplicity of his graphs and maps (what he called his Hello Kitty style), I was thinking “Yes–this presentation is who I want Cubit to be when it grows up.”

Today, Cubit is a tool that helps people pull demographic data faster. But I want Cubit to be a demographic data story telling tool. And the types of graphs and maps that Ryan was using in his presentation were excellent story-telling devices.

So I’m committing here to taking the first baby step to turning Cubit into a demographic data story telling tool. It’s a tiny step. This first tiny step will be to add totals by geography types for Census 2010 SF1 data. We’ve got to start somewhere. And I would hate to let such an excellent presentation not result in at least 1 immediate and tangible change on my part.

No TweetBacks yet. (Be the first to Tweet this post)

4 Responses to Demographics of Austin Texas – 2010

  1. Dowell Myers August 3, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    Hey, just saw your site. Or is it your posts? And what is Cubit?

    But I love your perspective and couldn’t agree more about the virtues of demographic story telling with census data. My work has been almost all California but it used to be Austin! Is that your base? We should meet when I visit next (October 1). Meanwhile check my popdynamics site, or maybe just see this recent review of changes in LA:

    Keep it up!

    Dowell Myers

  2. Kristen Carney August 4, 2011 at 6:49 am #


    Yes, you are right. The site is Cubit, and the posts are for Cubit’s blog, Plannovation.

    Cubit is a web app that folks use to get demographic data fast. We solve the “I want demographic data 500 feet around a new road or for a specific neighborhood”–areas that aren’t defined by the Census Bureau like a city or a county. Here’s a demo video:

    Yup, Cubit is based out of Austin, and we LOVE our city. Austin = amazing subcultures + crazy smart people + start up friendly. Much like California but minus your beautiful beaches and astronomical housing prices. :)

    What’s the URL to your popdynamics site? I love your graphs in the Immigrants and the New Maturity of Los Angeles–very effective story telling tools! I’d love to check out more of your work for inspiration.

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes