San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

January 4th, 2011
CAPCOG: Hays County grows fastest, youngest, most diverse in region

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The Capital Area Council of Government’s (CAPCOG) 10-county region.

By SEAN BATURA
News Reporter

A 10-county regional planning organization sifted through a mountain of federal government census data last month and published findings that say Hays County is growing faster, younger and more ethnically/racially diverse than any other county in Central Texas.

The report, published by the Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG), focused on regional trends in population growth, age distribution, racial and ethnic composition, educational attainment, unemployment, median household income, household type, and mode of commute. The report was based on the first round of data from the U.S Census Bureau from the 2010 Census and other sources, principally the bureau’s five-year American Community Survey through 2009.

CAPCOG includes Hays, Caldwell, Travis, Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Fayette, Lee, Llano, and Williamson Counties.

Hays County’s unemployment rate, which increased since 2007, is at its highest since 2000. Educational attainment in the county remained more or less constant during the last decade, according to the report.

The proportion of single-family units in Hays County increased more than nine percent, amounting to the largest increase in the CAPCOG region since 2000. The proportion of multi-family housing remained largely unchanged during the past decade in Hays County, states the report.

While the proportion of single-family units in Hays County increased, the proportion of family households in Hays County declined during the past decade by approximately three percent. Hays County was the only other county in the CAPCOG region besides Lee County where the proportion of people driving alone to work increased since 2000.

More than 66 percent of all housing structures in Hays County are single-family units, which, said the report, is similar to the state and national averages. The proportion of single family units within Hays County increased more than nine percent since 2000, the largest proportional increase in the CAPCOG region. The ratio of multi-family housing (the second largest category of housing type within Hays County) remained mostly unchanged during the past decade.

Less than 64 percent of all households in Hays County consist of families, states the CAPCOG report. Within the CAPCOG region, only Travis County has a smaller percentage of family households than Hays County. Family households in Hays County decreased by three percent during the past decade. The proportion of family households declined in every county in the CAPCOG region during the past decade, states the report.

Less than 60 percent of Hays County residents are white (a decrease of almost five percentage points since 2000), and the proportion of all other racial and ethnics groups increased since 2000, according to CAPCOG’s Regional Demographic and Economic Overview. Hispanics constitute more than 33 percent of all residents and are the fastest-growing minority in Hays County. The black population of Hays County increased from 3.6 percent to 4.1 percent since 2000, and the Asian population increased from 0.8 percent to 1.2 percent. All other racial groups in Hays County grew from 1.2 percent to 1.4 percent since 2000.

“While the growth of minority populations within CAPCOG has been largely fueled by the Hispanic population, the much smaller Asian cohort is actually the fastest growing racial/ethnic group in the region,” said the report.

During the past decade, the population of the CAPCOG region grew four times faster than the national average.

“(Hays County’s) rate of growth not only outpaced the Texas and national average at 18 percent and nine percent, respectively, but was also greater than the explosive 33 percent growth rate of the broader CAPCOG region,” the CAPCOG report said.

Hays County’s population is 155,545, growing 57 percent since 2000, according to CAPCOG’s report. Hays County and the wider CAPCOG region will likely experience “robust growth” for the foreseeable future, according to the report.

Hays County is the youngest county in the CAPCOG region and continues to get younger. The report said Hays County’s median age of 28.4 is almost four years younger than the median age of the Austin metropolitan area and approximately nine years younger than the U.S. median age. Hays County was the only CAPCOG county during the past decade where median age decreased.

“In the decades ahead, however, Hays County is unlikely to escape the aging trends operating throughout the rest of the nation,” said the report.

More than 87 percent of Hays County residents graduated from high school, 32 percent of residents have a college degree, and almost 10 percent have a graduate or professional degree, according to the report. During the past decade, educational attainment at all levels remained more or less constant. The percentage of Hays County residents with a professional or graduate degree declined slightly since 2000, though the proportion of residents with a high school diploma or college degree increased slightly.

Hays County’s unemployment rate was 6.6 percent in 2009, 4.4 percent in 2008, 3.8 percent in 2007, 4.1 percent in 2006, 4.4 percent in 2005, 5.2 percent in 2004, 5.8 percent in 2003, 5.5 percent in 2002, 3.9 percent in 2001, and 3.3 percent in 2000, according to the Texas Association of Counties. The CAPCOG report devotes less attention to Hays County’s unemployment rate than to other subjects.

“During the past decade the unemployment rate in Hays County has consistently hovered around the unemployment rate of the CAPCOG region,” states the Regional Demographic and Economic Overview. “Although the current annual unemployment rate marks the first time in the past decade that the Hays County has exceeded 6 percent, the unemployment rate remains lower than the state and national average.”

Median household income in Hays County is $52,409, which constitutes a decline of nearly $5,500 since 2000. Hays County suffered the fifth most severe decline among the 10 counties in the CAPCOG region in median household income. Median household income decreased nearly 10 percent in the CAPCOG region since 2000. The gap between Hays County’s median household income and the state and national average narrowed during the past decade, although the median household income in the county remains higher than the state and national averages, according to the report.

“Nationally, for example, median household income has fallen approximately five percent in the past decade while median household income in Texas has declined by approximately six percent,” states the CAPCOG report.

The overwhelming majority of workers in the CAPCOG region continue to drive alone to work. Among Hays County workers, 78 percent drive alone to work, the second highest proportion within the CAPCOG region. Hays and Lee Counties were the only CAPCOG counties where the proportion of workers driving alone to work increased since 2000. Since 2000, the percentage of workers carpooling, walking, or biking to work declined in Hays County.

“While transit use has increased, it remains the preferred method of commuting to work for just one percent of Hays County workers,” states the CAPCOG report. “In the past decade, the proportion of residents working from home has increased from 3.6 to 5.8 percent.”

CAPCOG completed its Regional Demographic and Economic Overview using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. CAPCOG used data from recently-released U.S. Census Bureau estimates of averages during the last five years. Although not 2010 Census counts, the five-year estimates are intended to provide timely, detailed statistics about the social, economic and housing characteristics of every community.

Total population counts for the nation and each state based on data collected in the 2010 Census were released on Dec. 21. As mandated by the Constitution, the census counts every resident in the United States every 10 years to determine the number of seats each state receives in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The federal government is scheduled to release more detailed 2010 Census data to each state in February and March. Additional data from the 2010 Census will be released through 2013.

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