STILL GROW­ING: PEEK INSIDE LAT­EST CEN­SUS NUM­BERS

The orig­i­nal cen­sus es­ti­mate for 2015 was re­vised down­ward.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Tay­lor Gold­en­stein tgold­en­stein@statesman.com

Per­haps the bal­loons and con­fetti fell a lit­tle too early last year when the Austin metro area cel­e­brated sur­pass­ing 2 mil­lion res­i­dents.

Turns out, af­ter some rou­tine re­vi­sions to the U.S. Cen­sus Bureau data, Austin ac­tu­ally hit that mile­stone later than orig­i­nally thought, ac­cord­ing to new num­bers re­leased Thurs­day.

Specif­i­cally, the five-county metro area cleared that pop­u­la­tion hur­dle by July 1, 2016 — with 2,056,405 peo­ple — not July 1, 2015, when the lat­est es­ti­mates put the Austin area’s pop­u­la­tion at 1,998,104 peo­ple. (Pop­u­la­tion es­ti­mates are typ­i­cally re­leased al­most a year af­ter the fact.)

Peter Borsella, a Cen­sus Bureau de­mog­ra­pher, said the agency up­dates its es­ti­mates an­nu­ally as new and more ac­cu­rate data comes in. Borsella was less than sym­pa­thetic to Austin’s re­calledthen-re­granted vic­tory.

“I un­der­stand you’re cross­ing a ma­jor pop­u­la­tion thresh­old, which makes it more no­tice­able, but changes like that from new data is not un­com­mon,” he said. “And rel­a­tively speak­ing those are very small changes.”

In the case of the Austin metro

area, the 2015 es­ti­mate was re­vised down­ward by just 2,756 peo­ple. Only two metro ar­eas in the U.S. saw no change in their 2015 es­ti­mates, an in­di­ca­tion of how

com­mon such re­vi­sions are. City de­mog­ra­pher Ryan Robin­son was equally un­fazed.

“It wasn’t quite 2 mil­lion, but be­cause we’re gain­ing 55,000 to 60,000 peo­ple each year, if we didn’t cross that thresh­old July 1 (2015), then we crossed it very soon

af­ter,” Robin­son said. “So to me, it’s kind of split­ting hairs.”

In fact, last year the Austin metro area — which in­cludes Travis, Wil­liamson, Hays, Bas­trop and Cald­well coun­ties — was the fastest-grow­ing ma­jor metro area with more than 1 mil­lion peo­ple, a feat it has ac­com­plished ev­ery year since 2010. The Austin area grew by 2.9 per­cent be­tween 2015 and 2016.

The num­bers are on track for Austin metro to hit the 3 mil­lion mark — or close — by 2030, Robin­son pre­dicted.

Mayor Steve Adler also took the news quite lightly. “I thought y’all had just lost weight,” Adler quipped. “It’s not im­por­tant whether Austin crosses the 2 mil­lion mark last year or this year. We’re get­ting re­ally big.”

But the dis­cov­ery is an­other chance to con­tem­plate the real-life im­pli­ca­tions of Austin grow­ing into its own as a big city.

“It feels like there’s a whole bunch of­folks outin traf­fic, bid­ding on the same house, and in front of me in the line at Franklin,” Adler said. “We need to bet­ter man­age growth to pre­serve the spirit and soul of Austin.”

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