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

PHOTO: A Texas flag flies from atop a tower crane in March at the forthcoming 200,000-square-foot Vistas at San Marcos mid-rise student housing development near Texas State University and downtown San Marcos. Eight of the 15 fastest-growing U.S. cities are in Texas, according to official 2012 population estimates released on Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau. SAN MARCOS MERCURY PHOTO by JAMIE MALDONADO


San Marcos is the fastest-growing large city in the United States, according to updated population estimates announced today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The city added 2,339 new residents — an increase of 4.91 percent — between July 2011 and July 2012, the bureau said, pushing its official population above 50,000 for the first time. South Jordan, Utah was the second fastest-growing with a 4.87 percent increase to 55,934.

San Marcos Mayor Daniel Guerrero said news that San Marcos’ population is well beyond booming does not come as a total surprise based on “the growth trends that we’ve seen over the last 10-15 years.”

“We knew San Marcos is a growing city. The population of Central Texas as a whole is booming and San Marcos happens to be in the center of all that action. So we ended up with the largest gains,” Guerrero said. “When you have that kind of proximity to Austin and San Antonio — and you’re three hours away from every major city in Texas — those are certainly big facets” in attracting new residents.

Texas State University is a leading factor in the city’s growth, the mayor said, as is the city’s and county’s aggressive drive over the last decade to update and expand roads and other infrastructure. In addition, he said, “San Marcos’ overall natural beauty is something that brings people in.”

Elsewhere in the Interstate 35 corridor, Austin moved from the 13th most populous city in the nation to the 11th with a population of 842,592, according to the new estimates. San Antonio grew to 1,382,951 residents and kept its spot as the seventh-largest city in the U.S.

Two other corridor cities, Cedar Park and Georgetown, joined San Marcos on the list of the top 10 fastest-growing large cities, defined as cities with a population of 50,000 or more. At No. 4 on the list, Cedar Park’s population grew 4.67 percent to 57,957 residents and, at No. 7, Georgetown’s population grew 4.21 percent to 52,303 reisdents.

Of the 15 fastest-growing large cities in the country, eight are in Texas, the bureau said:

Fastest-growing large cities in the U.S. (by percentage)

Rank City Percentage increase 2012 population
No. 1 San Marcos, Texas 4.91 percent 50,001
No. 2 South Jordan, Utah 4.87 percent 55,934
No. 3 Midland, Texas 4.87 percent 119,385
No. 4 Cedar Park, Texas 4.67 percent 57,957
No. 5 Clarksville, Tenn. 4.43 percent 142,519
No. 6 Alpharetta, Ga. 4.37 percent 61,981
No. 7 Georgetown, Texas 4.21 percent 52,303
No. 8 Irvine, Calif. 4.21 percent 229,985
No. 9 Buckeye, Ariz. 4.14 percent 54,542
No. 10 Conroe, Texas 4.01 percent 61,533
No. 11 McKinney, Texas 3.95 percent 143,223
No. 12 Frisco, Texas 3.92 percent 128,176
No. 13 Odessa, Texas 3.83 percent 106,102
No. 14 Auburn, Ala. 3.71 percent 56,908
No. 15 Manhattan, Kan 3.71 percent 56,069
* Between July 2011 and July 2012, based on U.S. Census Bureau estimates as of 05/23/13

Hover over the circles on the map to see the percentage increase in population according to the census bureau’s latest estimates released on May 23.

The San Marcos City Council declared in July 2007 that the city’s population had reached 50,000 based on city planners’ estimates rooted in the number of residential utility connections and other indicators. The Census Bureau itself estimated the city’s population to be 53,205 at one point. But the actual 2010 census count came in at 44,894 — 20.8 percent fewer than the Texas State Data Center estimated at the time and 15.6 fewer than the census bureau’s own 2009 estimate.

The central I-35 corridor anchors of Austin and San Antonio were among the U.S. cities that grew the fastest based on number of new residents.

Fastest-growing large cities in the U.S. (by people)

Rank City Numeric increase 2012 total population
No. 1 New York 67,058 8,336,697
No. 2 Houston 34,625 2,160,821
No. 3 Los Angeles 34,483 3,857,799
No. 4 San Antonio 25,400 1,382,951
No. 5 Austin 25,395 842,592
No. 6 Phoenix, Ariz. 24,536 1,488,750
No. 7 Dallas 23,341 1,241,162
No. 8 Charlotte, N.C. 18,989 775,202
No. 9 San Diego 18,074 1,338,348
No. 10 Fort Worth 16,328 777,992
No. 11 Denver 14,980 634,265
No. 12 Washington 13,303 632,323
No. 13 San Jose, Calif. 12,751 982,765
No. 14 Seattle 12,638 634,535
No. 15 Nashville-Davidson 12,323 624,496
* Between July 2011 and July 2012, based on U.S. Census Bureau estimates as of 05/23/13

Hover over the circles on the map to see the number of new residents in the 15 fastest-growing large cities as determined by the raw population increase, not as a percentage increase.

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Most Populous U.S. Cities

Hover over the circles on the map to see the 15 most populous U.S. cities, four of which are in Texas. Austin moved up to 11th and San Antonio remained the seventh most populous U.S. city.

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33 thoughts on “Fastest-growing city in the U.S.? San Marcos, Texas

  1. the town itself isn’t attracting new people, it’s that TxState keeps admitting more student each year to pay for all the construction on campus. i’m leaving San Marcos with my GF soon so hopefully being back down to 49,999 will help! lol

  2. This is not good news. Stacking people like cordwood on top of each other doesn’t make our town better, just the opposite.

  3. Actually, TXST added about 1,000 students during that period. No doubt some commute, since about half live outside the city.

    The university may inflate the numbers, but the city appears to be growing.

  4. The U.S. Census Bureau is about as inept as a govt agency gets. I don’t trust the numbers. Where are all these people living? Are these apartments filling up with permanent residents? I doubt it. I sure don’t see the single family home construction to support this report.

  5. Texas State is taking over the TOWN. It’s not a city. The power brokers of this TOWN are real estate professionals (aka the good ol boi click) who represent the interest of the University and the investors who will gain enormous profits from the purchase

  6. What is the current median income in San Marcos? From what I see/hear there has been very very little job growth in San Marcos to positevely justify the citizen growth shown above (excluding outlet mall and fast food restaurants since we are flourishing in $8.00/hour jobs). Growth is great, unless it means more non-working citizens living off of my (and your) tax dollars.

  7. Median household income: $27,597.

    I agree, job growth (or career growth) has been disappointing. The last report I saw, showed something like 75% of our employed citizens working part-time. The demographics in SMCISD show that it isn’t just poor college kids, either.

    I’ve heard that a fairly significant (by our standards) employer is closing down and moving out of state soon. Hopefully our economic development efforts will begin to pay greater dividends soon.

  8. I’m almost 67 and I have lived in or near several fast growing cities including the Dallas area and NYC. The truth is that, as I’ve said before in this forum, many cities grow for awhile until they either stagnate or achieve build out – and then they begin to rot. Development interests run the cities because they have the financial interest to make short term money regardless of their long term negative affect on quality of life concerns. If they make the bucks then they are happy, live very well, and to heck with those that were not “smart” enough to get on the influential committees or get the “right” appointments, or have the time and money to run for elected office. Their call is – “we have to have growth to help pay for infrastructure”. And then when they get their wish, they call for more infrastructure to support the growth. Long term that process is doomed to fail, and when it does – the wealthy have their wealth and too bad if you were not on their gravy train.

  9. In 1999, it was $25,809. In the same time, Texas has gone from $39,927, to $50,920.

    That’s 7% for San Marcos, and 28% for Texas.

  10. As of the most recent census, we have 36% of our population living below the poverty level, compared to 29% at the previous census.

    Texas went from 15% to 17%.

  11. Good news ??? Really good for tx state & new college students !! But what about our little future college students the one born & raised here in sm!?! We have nothing to keep children of sm busy!! No mr.gattis or children’s museum, no skating rink, or arcades!!! I keep my kids in sports all yr long but we need more entertainment for our little ones!!! I find myself taking my kids to new braunfels just to entertain them the hv endless fun there! Laser tag ,schlitterbahn ,go carts & lunar bowling just to name a few !!! Get on the ball sm!!!

  12. If that was supposed to be built at Springtown, I believe there was a big rush to give Target a pile of money to relocate (because they might otherwise just go away), and in chaos of the moment, we forgot to get them to lift restrictions on what could be built there. As I understand it, movie theaters, bowling alleys, and the like, are not permitted.

    I could be misremembering. Maybe someone else can confirm or deny.

  13. B.Iozano: sounds like a good idea; I have young ones myself. There is more than likely demand for such things. I suggest someone like yourself should therefore take a risk and open up a business catering to this demand if they think they can make a profit from such an endeavor. Are you suggesting it is somehow the city government’s role to provide these kinds of entertainment opportunities? I personally wish the state would stay as far away as possible and not give our money to “free-market” businesses like Target.

  14. Dano… Every proposed development in this town is not argued against. Just those that propose to mess with the river (one of the reasons people move here) and those that propose to destroy neighborhoods (one of the reasons that keep people here).

    Since we are the fastest growing city, seems to me we should be focusing on building more single family homes and family-oriented apartment complexes instead of these rent-by-the-bedroom places.

  15. Hey…. can we add MORE apartments???!!!
    Lets just wipe out the single families that lived here (for generations) & give the city to *maybe* four-year college kids.

  16. If you want to see the future of San Marcos, I would encourage you to drive by the under construction monstrosity know as Hill Side Ranch. Since few of you live in the area which was a rather pleasant area, you have no reason to visit that intersection. This humongous instant student slum was allowed to build right up to the edge of N. LBJ which is already overloaded with traffic. The project is at the intersection of N. LBJ and Holland. It appears that there is only going to be one road into and out of the project so it will be dumping another thousand or so students into the already poor intersection. This project makes the Retreat look like the Ritz.

  17. Since we are the fastest growing city, then we should hold our community to a higher standard as an exemplar model protecting the integrity of our neighborhoods against development which threatens the environment, encroachment on archeological areas, destruction of the aquifer and river. That would be a nice module for City Council members or COSM staff to present to the League of Cities. But, that takes work now doesn’t it and commitments to San Marcos, not cow-towing to every developer whose shiny shoes hits 78666 pavements. Think out side of the box and in the richness of San Marcos. We will be ever more vigilant to protect San Marcos from developers that are destroying the natural beauty of San Marcos. Really, Sam Houston’s kissing tree for a parking lot? Destroy a place with arrowheads, mastodon bones and spear points….see Cape’s Camp. The huge metal building is still in the heart of Victory Gardens, you can see the monstrosity on the images when they talk about train crossings. Its also time to address blight in low income neighborhoods in San Marcos. I hope the school board is taking notes, because your 1950s approach to transparency will not go over well with any “new combers” to this community. And, life long residents, time to contact your school board trustee to ask about video streams live on the internet and TV so that you can see what actually happens at these meetings, chilling freedom of expression and free speech. Tinkering with Open Meetings procedure.

  18. Just moved out of town with my gf….am still in the area and will continue fighting while I am close….however, we are both tired of this un-constrained growth and being misrepresented by our government officials….God help San Marcos and its future cause if this continues the face of the town will be completely changed and not in a good way…I was also a student at the school but the type of developments that are being allowed here are knowingly attracting the wrong crowd…all for the almighty dollar….how sad!

  19. San Marcos is a university town plain and simple. Up until Dell came around, Austin was a university town with state offices. The developers are exploiting what is needed here since no enrollment cap has been set. Yes, it is disgusting, but what are we to do as a city? We try to get companies to relocate with our economic incubator, but not much has occurred but to keep the current companies here. We have tourism that generates the majority of our sales tax from the outlet malls. Yeah, we don’t have theme parks that bring in a ton of people…San Marcos offers it’s river free of charge! So what if we are not the typical sleepy town like Kyle or new braunfels…we will always be a young persons town.

  20. Actually what this means is that we are in a position of strength to determine how and where we want our town to grow. The people are going to come whether we bow down and kiss the ring of some well-connected developer who wishes this were 14th Century Venice or we err on the side of caution and try to ensure this town’s future is not a repeat of the Sagewood Trail debacle that kills the river in the process. I choose the latter and I believe the bulk of this town (well, that portion of the bulk who even bothers to pay attention) concurs. San Marcos has the power to set the parameters for growth to what works for us. If some developer doesn’t like our terms, too bad. There will be five more following after with a different plan. Anyone who suggests differently does not understand the demographic trajectory of this region nor basic economics.

  21. Unfortunately City staff and the Council seem to be held in thrall to developers and their money or offer of a larger tax base. There is a Master Plan, perhaps it needs to be updated; but it also needs to be used. Property owners have some expectation of knowing what will be going on around them in the future rather than having to read the entrails of a chicken to determine what the City is going to do.

    Growth is a good thing, if a community is not growing it is dying. But uncontrolled/unregulated growth has a name, cancer.

  22. Our median income is indeed lower than it should be, and I’d argue that’s the Texas State Effect at work. You have a massive, transient population of consumers who spend pretty freely at retail, restaurant and service businesses. So there is perpetual demand for those types of businesses, which do not provide many career-level incomes. That same large, transient population offers a workforce for the very businesses that serve them. They want part-time jobs while in school. It’s a perfect storm of income-eroding influences.

    At the same time, the fast-growing student population needs somewhere to live. Even though there are apparently plenty of apartments available from the current inventory, parents are more than happy to pony up top dollar for their kids to live in shiny new apartments, not the roach-filled hovels I lived in while I was in college. Sure, a lot of students live on tight budgets and make do with very low-cost accommodations, but for every one of those, there are several more whose parents will gladly put them up at the latest Larry Piehl or Darren Casey development. So even though there’s no housing shortage, there’s still demand for new development.

    How can we win large employers who will help push that median income up? We need housing that isn’t filled with college students, and public schools that aren’t chronically underperforming. These are tough problems to solve, but if I were considering moving 500 employees here, I’d look at cost of living (we look good there vs. Austin in terms of home prices and thus property taxes), access to services, both locally and nearby (we’re just 5 minutes further away from Austin than Georgetown, and 35 minutes closer to San Antonio), and access to a trained workforce(Texas State grads). I mention Georgetown because San Marcos strikes me a bit like Georgetown, but better: Larger university, better downtown, beautiful river, just as close to Austin, cheaper than Austin, and two major cities within commute distance, not just one.

    When I look at what is keeping this town from winning those major employers, it always seems to come down to housing and schools. Because we win in so many other categories. We need to win in those too.

  23. SAC&PAC pays its store managers $8.50 an hour while our one and only Del Taco pays their mangers $16.50? Shame on SACking our packing and Mac and cheese Macoys.

  24. I assume you meant “McCoys” – but what do the McCoys have to do with Sac & Pac? Or mac and cheese for that matter?

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