By Alexa Ura, Texas Tribune
Fueled by migration to the state from other parts of the country, Texas crossed a new population threshold this year: It is now home to 30 million people. Estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau put the state’s population at 30,029,572 following years of steady growth. This makes Texas the only state, other than California, with a population of more than 30 million.
The state’s population has been on an upward trajectory for decades, accompanied by demographic shifts that have reshaped everything from its politics to its classrooms as people of color have powered its growth. Texas’ population increased by 470,708 people since July 2021, the largest gain in the nation. Texas regularly holds that top spot on the bureau’s annual population updates. Roughly half of that growth came from net domestic migration — the number of people coming to Texas from other states — while the other half was split almost evenly between net international migration and natural increase, which is the difference between births and deaths. The state’s source of population gains often fluctuates year to year. The bureau’s estimates from 2010-19 showed Texas’ growth based on natural increase and net migration, including both domestic and international, were close to even over the decade.
Despite its growth, Texas remains far behind California, which has been the most populous state in the nation since the early 1960s. The latest estimates put California’s population at 39,029,342. However, California’s growth has been stunted recently as it continued to lose residents to other states. California outpaced Texas in growth based on international migration, but this year’s estimates showed the state’s population shrunk in size by 113,649 residents after experiencing big losses from domestic migration. The Golden State has lost almost half a million residents in the last two years alone. Its population losses, reportedly, have been partly driven by high housing prices, as well as by quality of life and transportation challenges.
Earlier this year, a separate estimate from the Census Bureau indicated that Texas may have passed another demographic milestone: the point where Hispanic residents make up more of the state’s population than white residents. Population figures derived from the bureau’s American Community Survey showed Hispanic Texans made up 40.2% of the state’s population in 2021, while non-Hispanic white Texans made up 39.4%. Those estimates are not considered official. The bureau’s official population estimates as of July 2021 showed the Hispanic and non-Hispanic white populations virtually even in size. But in designating Hispanics as the state’s largest population group, the new estimates are the first to reflect the foreseeable culmination of decades of demographic shifts steadily transforming the state.