Future Populations by County

Are you familiar with the Texas Demographic Center (TDC)? You should be if you are interested in future plans for your county.

By Tim Brown, County Information Senior Analyst

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Future Populations by County

Are you familiar with the Texas Demographic Center (TDC)? You should be if you are interested in future plans for your county. Anyone making economic development plans, or making plans for the location of their next satellite, will likely start with these projections. Recently, the TDC published their county population projections for every year until 2050.

To derive these projections, the TDC uses birth and death records to determine the rate of natural change in the population. However, for immigrants, they use the rate from 2010 to 2015 for these projections. Note that the immigration rate captures changes due to both domestic as well as national immigration.

Map 1 shows the projected percentage change in population by county from 2015 to 2025. The pink and red colors indicate counties that are expected to lose population: pink if the loss is projected to be less than 2.5 % and red if it will be at least that much or more. Actual growth is expected to occur in the yellow and brown counties.

Unsurprisingly, counties around Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston-Galveston, and San Antonio-Austin are projected to have significant growth. However, the growth in counties along the I-35 corridor south of San Antonio is a small surprise in that it includes only some of the counties in the Eagle Ford shale geological area. Similarly, the growth in the Permian Basin counties (near the southeast corner of New Mexico) makes sense given the huge uptick in drilling occurring in this area. However, many counties have been suffering through population loss for years. Therefore, the large number of red and yellow counties across the state was not unexpected, although worrisome. The TDC projects that 41 counties will lose more than 2.5% of their population from 2015 to 2025 with the loss exceeding 10% in Castro, Parmer and Presidio.

But a map based on total population can hide many details. Map 2 reveals the projected change in the female population over the same period, while Map 3 shows the expected changes in the male population. Although the colors changed from yellows and browns to shades of blue, the brackets remain the same, more or less.

Note that eight more counties appear in red in Map 2 than in Map 1 and that the most significant percentage loss of females, 26.2%, exceeds the most significant loss in total population shown in Map 1, 22.9%.

The difference is even more striking when comparing Map 2 to the change in male population in Map 3 where the greatest loss only reaches 19.6% and only 37 counties show up in red (13 less than in Map 2).

The TDC projects that 76 counties will lose population between 2015 and 2025 and, of that number, 36 counties will lose a greater percentage of their female population than of their male population. Thus far, this analysis is based on males and females of all ages.

Conveniently, the projections include a breakdown by age group. Limiting the analysis to those in the under 18 age group reveals that the TDC projects 100 counties to lose population from 2015 to 2025 (sorry, not shown on a map).

Of the 100 counties losing total population, 81 are expected to lose a greater percentage of their female population in the under age 18 age group than they will lose of their male population in the same age group.

While this article has focused more on the counties expected to lose population, it is clear that both population growth and population loss can strain county resources; the greater the rate of change, the greater the strain. Regardless of the difficulties, however, citizens in every county expect their elected officials to prepare for the future. Luckily, the TDC provides some of the basic information needed for just that purpose.

More Information about the Projections

Since the projections use the immigration rate from 2010 to 2015, 2015 seems like a good starting point for the analysis in this article. However, the TDC produces projections from every year from 2011 to 2050 (they use the 2010 Census as a starting point). In addition, they make much more information available per year than is shown here. Not only do they break down each yearly projection by sex and age group, but also by race/ ethnicity: non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, non-Hispanic Asians, Hispanics (of all races) and non-Hispanic others (all other racial/ethnic groups).

You can download the projections from the TDC web site or, from the same web page, link to their Population Projections Tool to view custom tables created from the projections based on the criteria you select.