Highlights from Census 2020

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Posted on 10/06/2021 by Chris Ramser

  • Austin metro grew by 33.0% (adding 567,082 people) from 2010 to 2020, ranking as the fastest growing large metro.
  • Hays County was the fastest growing county in the U.S. with a population over 100K, growing by 53.4% over the decade, while Williamson County ranked fourth with 44.1% growth.
  • Austin metro officially became a majority-minority metro with the percentage of the population identifying as “Non-Hispanic White alone” falling below 50% in 2020.
  • While each major race and ethnic grouping had positive growth from 2010 to 2020, the Asian population grew an extraordinary 96.8% and now represents the third largest major ethnic/racial group in the region.
  • The Austin region continues to densify. The land area with a density of more than 5,000 increased from 62.6 square miles in 2010 to 90.4 square miles in 2020.

With the release of the Census 2020 redistricting file in August, legislators and local community members are beginning the process of drafting new political boundaries. This dataset is the first look at local data from the Census 2020. The Census Bureau posted the data tables on data.gov in September, providing better access to the information for analyzing how our region has changed since 2010. Data in this release is limited to a few variables such as race and ethnic origin, housing unit occupancy, population of the voting age, and population density.

Metro population growth

Austin ranked as the fastest growing of the 100 largest metros[1], growing from 1,716,289 in 2010 to 2,283,371 in 2020. The metro grew 33.0% and added a total of 567,082 people (the ninth largest numeric change) during the decade. Other Texas metros ranked high for population growth including Houston, 10th with a 20.3% increase; Dallas, 11thwith 20.0%; and San Antonio, 12th with 19.4%. According to the new census, McAllen-Edinburg-Mission (870,781) became the fifth largest Texas metro, supplanting El Paso (868,859).

The map below depicts the population percent change for metropolitan areas in the U.S. Areas in peach had negative growth, while those in dark purple grew by over 20% in the last 10 years.

County population growth

As expected, several of the Austin metro’s five component counties ranked high for growth since the previous census. Hays County ranked as the fastest growing among counties with over 100,000 residents. It added 83,960 residents or 53.4% over the last 10 years, and when ranked against all counties in the U.S., it was third fastest growing. Williamson County ranked as the fourth fastest growing large county, and 11th overall, with growth of 44.1%. Bastrop, Caldwell, and Travis Counties also had remarkable growth of 31.1%, 20.5%, and 26.0%, respectively.

The map below depicts population percent change from 2010 to 2020 for all counties in the U.S. The dark orange counties lost 10% or more residents, while the counties in the darkest green added over 25%. Two new county equivalents in Alaska (Chugach and Copper River) did not have a 2010 population count because they were split out from a larger area in 2019 and are therefore shaded in light grey.

Travis County added 265,922 people over the last 10 years, the ninth largest addition of any county in the U.S. Harris, Tarrant, Bexar, Collin, and Dallas Counties were also among the top 10 greatest population gainers over the last decade.

The map below depicts the numeric population change for all counties in the U.S. Counties shaded in dark orange lost more than 5,000 people, while counties in the darkest green added at least 50,000.

For an excel download that summarizes the population of the Austin region counties and cities as well as the US rankings of the metropolitan statistical areas and counties, click here.

Austin metro population by race & Hispanic/Latino origin

One of the key components of the redistricting file is population by race and Hispanic origin. The Census Bureau asks two separate questions to determine Hispanic ethnicity and race. Each person is asked to identify if they are of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin and in a separate question are asked to identify their race which includes White, Black, American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian, Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, or some other race.[2]

Each of the major Hispanic and race categories in the Austin metro grew during the last decade. Some grew faster than others, so the overall distribution of race and ethnic groups shifted somewhat when compared to 2010. Most notably, during the last decade in the Austin metro, non-Hispanic Whites went from a majority share of the population, 54.7% in 2010 to a minority share 49.6% in 2020. The share of Hispanics grew from 31.4% in 2010 to 31.9% in 2020, while Asian alone surpassed Black alone as the third largest population group. In 2010, Black alone represented 7.0% of the population and Asian alone represented 4.7%. Due to the fast growth of the Asian population, in 2020, Asians became 7.0% of the population and the Black population now accounts for 6.6%.

The chart below shows the total population in the Austin MSA for each major race/ethnic group in 2010 and 2020.

In the Austin region, Non-Hispanic Whites added more people than any other category, 194,639, but growth was at a slower rate (20.7%) than the metro’s overall growth of 33.0%. Hispanics added the second the greatest number of new people with 189,708 or 35.2%. Asian alone, as mentioned earlier, had an extraordinarily fast rate of growth at 96.8%, adding 78,429 people. Black alone grew at a rate faster than White alone, 25.7% and added 31,006 people.

One of the fastest growing groups in the Austin region were those identifying as being from a race group consisting of two or more races. In 2010, just 29,225 people identified as being from two or more races, while in 2020, 93,033 selected multiple races—growth of 218.3%. The graph below plots the numeric and percent change for all the categories examined in this analysis.

The Brookings Institution published an analysis “Mapping America’s diversity with the 2020 census” that confirms that America continues to see a trend that they have dubbed the “diversity explosion.” From our analysis, we confirm Austin is indeed following this trend.

Mapping race & Hispanic origin within the Austin Metro

Unique to the decennial counts, the Census Bureau releases data at the smallest available geography, the Census block. For much of the remainder of this posting, we will examine changes within the Austin metro at the Census block group level. The animated gifs that follow illustrate how the metro changed between 2010 and 2020.

For each map, we’ve kept the color scale the same, allowing for a visual comparison between the 2010 and 2020 data. Areas that show a darker color within the 2020 map than on the 2010 map, represent a gain for that characteristic. In the case of Hispanic origin, areas in the light peach shading have less than 15% of the population identifying as Hispanic, while the darkest green areas have over 75% of the people in that area identifying as Hispanic. There are fewer areas in the lowest grouping in 2020 and a slight southeastward shift in the location of the block groups within the highest percentage category of over 75%.

The 2020 map of the concentration of Non-Hispanic Whites shows less areas of our region in the two highest percent categories, 60-75% and over 75%. More areas west of I-35 are showing the percentage of Whites in the middle range percent categories, such as 45-60% and 30-45% indicating these areas could be seeing greater diversity in 2020 than 2010.

One of the more interesting maps is the growth of the block groups with a strong Asian concentration. In 2010, only three block groups had a population of 30% Asian (the darkest classification on this series of maps) and 32 had an Asian population of between 20-30% (the second darkest class). In 2020, 34 block groups had a population over 30% Asian, and another 50 had a population of 20-30% Asian. Most of these block groups are found in the North Austin, Cedar Park and Round Rock areas, though the Asian concentration is strengthening throughout the urban area.

Fewer block groups, 19 in 2020, compared to 27 in 2010, had the highest percent concentration of Black alone depicted on our map. However, there were more block groups, 49, in the second highest category (20-30%) in 2020 than in 2010 when only 33 were in that class. There could be evidence of the erosion of the concentration of the Black alone population in East Austin.

Mapping the population under 18

The redistricting file has a whole tabulation of race and Hispanic origin of the voting age population. Although we did not specifically address these data in this article, we did map the percent of block groups with children, aged under 18 years. Growth of the under-18 population from 2010 to 2020 in our region was not as impressive as overall growth. In 2010, 170,938 children under 18 were counted compared to 191,657 in the Census 2020 for a growth rate of 12.1%. Since overall growth was greater than the growth the population under 18, it wasn’t surprising to see shrinking areas with the highest concentration of children on our map. Much of the Austin metro’s growth has been due to migration rather than natural increase. Block groups with the two darkest browns had more than 30% of the population under 18.

Population density within the Austin metro

With all the growth our region has seen, Austin has densified over the last decade. The following population density maps show the population per square mile of our census block groups in 2010 and 2020. In 2010, the population density for the entire Austin metro was 401.2 people per square mile. By 2020, the density had increased to 533.9. Areas in the darkest shade of purple had a population of 5,000 or more per square mile. In 2010, 254 block groups representing an area of 62.6 square miles were classified in the densest category. That number grew to 403 block groups representing an area of 90.4 square miles in 2020 out of a total area of 4,277.7 square miles. Block groups categorized with the highest density can be found from San Marcos to Round Rock and Leander.

We also created a series of more detailed maps of population density using Census blocks. There are four maps covering most of our region that you can click to download including North, Central, South Central, and South.

Mapping housing unit characteristics within the Austin metro

Also included within the redistricting file is information on the number of housing units and whether they are vacant or occupied. Although it would seem from our current housing market that every house is surely occupied in the region, there is a percentage that is deemed vacant by the Census Bureau. A vacant housing unit is one where no response was received by the Census Bureau or one that is occupied by persons who have a usual residence elsewhere where they are counted.

In Census 2010, 92.1% of the housing units were occupied in the Austin region and that share increased to 93.0% in 2020. Both the 2010 and 2020 occupancy rates were higher in the Austin region than the U.S. and Texas.

With the growth and demand for housing in the Austin region, the eastern portions of Travis and Williamson County on both sides of SH 130 generally show higher housing unit occupancy in 2020 than in 2010. On our map, the darkest red areas were block groups where more than 98% of the housing units were deemed occupied.

Although the Census Bureau does not publish household size within the redistricting file,an estimate can be calculated to illustrate the relative number of people living in housing units. For this map, we’ve deducted the group quarters population[3] from the total (since group quarters are not deemed a housing unit) and divided that number by the number of occupied housing units, giving an average number of people living in each occupied unit. Areas on our map in the darkest orange had an average of three or more people per occupied housing unit. There may be evidence that the average population of occupied housing units may have dropped slightly in central and south East Austin from 2010 to 2020. This may be due to the composition of new units coming online within these core block groups.

What’s next

In 2022, the Census Bureau will release additional 2020 decennial census data providing more detailed age, race, household type, and housing-related data. For more on upcoming Census 2020 data products, visit this website.


  1. The Austin MSA ranked as the second fastest growing of all metropolitan statistical areas from 2010 to 2020. The Villages, FL MSA grew faster at a rate of 38.9% with a 2020 population of 129,752.
  2. For purposes of this analysis, we’ve included a category for the Hispanic population and categories for the race groupings of the non-Hispanic population. This produces the following categories: Hispanic or Latino, Non-Hispanic White alone, Non-Hispanic Black alone, Non-Hispanic Asian alone, Non-Hispanic American Indian & Alaska Native alone, Non-Hispanic Hawaiian & Other Pacific Islander alone, Non-Hispanic Some Other Race alone, and Non-Hispanic Two or more races. In the charts and maps that follow, the name of some categories may be shortened, but each represents the categories described above.
  3. Also included in the redistricting file is a summary of the population counts found in group quarters. A group quarter is defined as a place people stay in a group that is owned or managed by an organization, such as a college, nursing home, or correctional facility. Apartments are considered housing units and not group quarters because they are managed by private entities. Around 50,300 people were counted within group quarters in the Austin region in 2020, up from about 40,900 in 2010.

Related Categories: Central Texas Economy in Perspective