According to a new U.S. Census Bureau report, of the 15 fastest-growing cities larger than 50,000 people, seven are in Texas including the top three: Frisco, New Braunfels, and Pflugerville. Frisco’s growth rate was 8.2 percent, some 11 times faster than the national rate of 0.7 percent.
Of the cities with the greatest population gain from July 1, 2016 to July 1, 2017, San Antonio, Texas, took the prize, adding some 66 people every day. Texas had the most cities in the top 15 of this category as well with five making the list and three of the top five overall in addition to San Antonio: Dallas, Fort Worth, Frisco, and Austin.
San Antonio now has more than 1.5 million people and ranks as the nation’s seventh-largest city, just behind Philadelphia. Fort Worth, meanwhile, knocked Indianapolis, Ind., out of the top-15 with a population of 874,168. Houston is America’s fourth-largest city and is also the most diverse large city in the nation.
Population growth doesn’t happen in a vacuum. People move for many reasons, among them: work, opportunity, and affordable housing.
And the availability of jobs, a government attitude amenable to small business, and available housing doesn’t happen in a vacuum either. Politicians’ decisions can help or hurt these factors through tax rates, regulation, lawsuit climate, and land use restrictions.
Here it is instructive to note that the census reports that, from April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2017, Texas added the most housing units in the nation, 955,000, while California added 497,000; Florida, 452,000; North Carolina, 295,000; and New York, 219,000. Looking at this from a per capita standpoint makes the housing construction situation clear.
The share of housing units added as a proportion of the state’s 2010 population shows that Texas expanded its housing supply by 10.3 percent for every household during the period, more than double the rate of California (3.9 percent) or New York (3.0 percent). Given that new families are reluctant to form if they’re forced to live in their parent’s house due to lack of affordable homes, it’s easy to see why Texas dominates the list of fastest-growing cities.
Every year, Canada’s Fraser Institute ranks each state’s economic freedom based on the size of government spending, the tax burden, and labor market freedom. Fraser’s latest survey ranks Texas second in the U.S., behind New Hampshire and tied with Florida. Looking at the census bureau’s top 15 fastest-growing cities and comparing it to Fraser’s rankings shows that economic freedom has a large bearing on growth: freedom allows people to thrive.
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Meanwhile, Fraser ranked New York last and California at second from the bottom for economic freedom.
The lack of economic freedom in California compared to Texas is likely why, according to census, from 2012 to 2016, a net of 521,052 Californians left the state. Texas was their most popular destination, with a net of 114,413 Californians moving 1,300 miles east to the Lone Star State.
In the five years through 2016, some 542,432 more Americans moved to Texas than moved out, supporting a growth rate double that of California’s since the 2010 census, 12.6 percent in Texas vs. 6.1 percent in California.
That California has the nation’s highest marginal income tax rate and ranks in the worst five for state and local tax burden while Texas has no income tax and ranks in the best five states for taxation means that Texas should continue to double California’s growth in the years to come.
When people vote with their feet, Texas wins.
This commentary was originally featured in Forbes on May 30, 2018.