Economic Indicators

The Chamber's monthly Economic Indicators report on the Central Texas region chronicles economic activity on a monthly or quarterly basis. For this overview including links to downloadable data files please visit the Economic Indicators page within the Business section.

Central Texas Economy in Perspective

September 6, 2011 edition

It's no secret that Austin has grown significantly over the past decade due mostly to migration from other portions of the state and country. Annual Census population estimates data showed that the Austin MSA added a net gain of 302,560 migrants from 2000-2009 or 66% of our total growth. This growth has allowed the Austin region, an already highly-educated workforce to improve its talent – about half of the new migrants from out-of-state have at least a bachelor's degree, according to another Census source of migration data, the American Community Survey.

But what those two data sources don't give us are the exact origins of those migrants. The best source of data for this sort of analysis comes from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service's Statistics of Income (SOI) tax statistics, which recently released new data, giving us 2008-2009 information.

Since the new migration data covers the middle portion of the Great Recession, it's not too surprising that domestic migration between states was down 4.7% from the previous release. This overall trend is witnessed throughout much of the data for the Austin metro region as well. Despite lower levels of migration, the Austin MSA still experienced a net gain of over 28,000 residents in 2009.

Best Performing Among Top 50 Metros

The top sources of new talent remain some of the major metro regions in the country as well as peer metros within Texas. Much of the in-migration to Austin is from other Texas locations, yet at the same time our highest destinations for out-migrants are to those same Texas areas, offsetting much of the gains. For Austin to have a high net migration figure for a particular metro area means that more of their residents are coming to our region as opposed to our residents leaving for theirs. The chart below lays out the ten highest net migration origins ranked in order for year 2009 and how the trend has behaved over the past five years.

For most of the metros represented in the chart, year 2007 was the best year in terms of highest net migration into the Austin MSA. The one exception was Corpus Christi, which posted higher net migrants to Austin in 2009. For many of the metro regions, we saw a decline in the net gain from 2008 to 2009. A few metros notably held steady including Killeen, Phoenix and San Francisco.

By far our biggest people exchange occurs with Houston. We received about 6,600 new residents from Houston, but about 6,300 of our residents moved to the Houston area in 2009. Another metro area with which we see a lot of residential exchange, and in 2009 actually lost more residents to, was San Antonio. In fact, 5,116 former San Antonio MSA residents moved to the Austin area, while 5,248 of ours made the reverse move down I-35. Austin does claim a slight net gain of 411 over San Antonio in the past five years.

Looking at the past five years of data, Los Angeles MSA ranked as our biggest net contributor of talent with over 9,042. Three other California metros, highlighted in light green below, were in the top 10, Riverside, 2,972; San Diego, 2,688; and San Francisco, 2,358. San Jose was 13th on the list, while Sacramento was 18th. Texas metro regions also contributed to the growth of Austin with six metros making the Top 20 in terms of net flow to Austin. Which begs the question, is more of the net gain to the Austin MSA from Texas or California?

And the answer is . . . Texas by 7,253. Other Texas counties had a net flow to the Austin MSA of 30,732 from 2005 to 2009, while California's total was 23,479.

The list of net losses for Austin MSA is relatively short with low numbers. The Marble Falls Micro Area (Burnet County) is the biggest deficit flow for the Austin MSA at 354. Second on the list, Gulfport-Biloxi, MS, showed a deficit of only 36 over the past five years. Eight other deficits are listed in the table below.

Lastly, for those geographically inclined, here is a map we put together of the net gains/losses by Metro Micro area over the past five years.

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