Texas is growing explosively and much of that growth is among Latinos. Â Â The latest Census Bureau figures show the Lone Star State grew by 20%, to over 25 million people, recording about a quarter of the nationâ€™s overall growth. The rate of growth was twice the national average. The implications are huge politically, as Texas stands to gain 4 new Congressional seats from this expansion, and Hispanic leaders want in.
A majority of the Hispanic growth came from births to families already living here. While migration from other states and countries contributed about 45%. Â
The Texas story stands in contrast to the Rust Belt states and the Northeast, where overall growth is minimal.Â Â Texasâ€™s Hispanic-fueled growth spurt out-paced the entire countries, helped brace our housing market and our economy.
A close look at Texas growth reveals much aboutÂ Â Americanâ€™s home-buying habits. Rural areas got smaller â€“ few want to live in the boonies of far west Texas while it appears suburban areas won over the most transplants.
But arguably the biggest winner was Ft. Worth, or Cow Town as we
call it. Fort Worth grew by a whopping 38.6%, the largest increase in
the state, followed by Laredoâ€™s 33%, Austin at 20.4%, and San Antonio
at 16%. In contrast the city of Dallas, my home, grew by a scant .8% â€“ a
bit deflating to a city all puffed up about a $354 million arts
center, a downtown park and greenway, and the $185 million Perot Museum
of Nature & Science underway.
Curtis Tally shakes his head at how fast little Justin, north of Fort Worth, has grown. Subdivisions sprouted up on what was once farmland around his Justin Feed Co. in southern Denton County. From 1891 residents in 2000, Justin has 3,246 today. Â
"We were selling seed for pastures; now we're selling seeds for
lawns," Tally, 74, who has been in business in Justin since 1958, told the Fort Worth Star Telegram.
Aside from escaping death in Mexico, what is driving people to Texas? Start with our rising star, Fort Worth. The city has both a cowboy pizzazz personality and a lower crime rate than Dallas. Fort Worthâ€™s arts district has overshadowed Dallasâ€™s for years, and the neighborhoods offer true community â€“ places where the kids can still walk, not be bussed, to school. Rose Bowl winner Texas Christian University is on the upswing, downtown is charmingly vibrant, and an urban renaissance is taking hold on the cityâ€™s western edge called West 7th.Â Â
What are people seeking in Texas? Iâ€™d call it quality of life with
room for upward mobility: affordable homes with mortgage payments that
leave some money for recreation, good public schools for their kids
and generally less onerous tax regime.
The new Texans are coming here not just to live, but to dig in economically. Â
In the end, we are seeing the birth of a Texas that is neither the white bread, big hair idyll of the cultural conservatives or the free market dystopia imagined by liberals. It is becoming more diverse, without losing its capitalist energy. With all its blemishes, Â the emerging Texas may well become the model for how America evolves in the coming decades.
Candy Evans is an independent journalist based in Dallas, Texas, She covers Texas for AOL's HousingWatch and blogs at secondshelters.com.