Based on recent population growth figures, you should probably get ready for more traffic. Photo courtesy of TxDOT

Texas is edging closer to a milestone — a population of 30 million.

Estimates released December 21 by the U.S. Census Bureau show the population of Texas grew 1.1 percent between July 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021. During that period, the state added 310,288 residents, going from 29,217,653 to 29,527,941. The tally takes into account births, deaths, people moving to Texas, and people moving out of Texas.

Texas ranked first among the states for the number of residents added from 2020 to 2021, which worked out to 850 new residents per day, and seventh for percentage growth. At 2.9 percent, Idaho ranked first for percentage growth.

If Texas maintains a year-to-year growth rate of at least 1.1 percent, the state might break the 30 million mark sometime in 2022. Driving the state’s continued population explosion are people of color, who’ve made up 91 percent of new Texas residents in the 21st century, according to The Texas Tribune.

Lloyd Potter, the state demographer, says it’s conceivable that Texas could be home to 30 million residents in 2022.

“However, our rate of growth has slowed noticeably between 2020 and 2021, with lower fertility, higher mortality, and less international migration. If we add the same number of people estimated to have been added between 2020 and 2021, then it looks like we’ll come up a bit short of 30 million in 2022,” Potter says.

Throughout the country, the COVID-19 pandemic helped drag down population growth from July 2020 to July 2021. The U.S. population rose just 0.1 percent during that period — the smallest one-year increase since the nation was founded.

“Population growth has been slowing for years because of lower birth rates and decreasing net international migration, all while mortality rates are rising due to the aging of the nation’s population,” Kristie Wilder, a demographer at the Census Bureau, says in a news release. “Now, with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, this combination has resulted in a historically slow pace of growth.”

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

The Bayou City is one of the three U.S. metro areas to gain at least 1.2 million residents over the decade. Photo via Getty Images

Houston boasts massive population growth among major U.S. metros from 2010 to 2020

there here

If the massive influx of Newstonians is any clue, the population of Greater Houston keeps exploding.

New figures from the U.S. Census Bureau put that growth into clearer perspective. Data from the 2020 Census released August 12 shows Houston at No. 5 (20.3 percent) among the country's 50 largest metro areas in the biggest jump in population from 2010 to 2020.

Houston maintains its position at No. 5 (7,122,240 residents), the Census data notes. For some perspective, Houston was No. 8 (4,944,332) in the 2010 Census.

The Bayou City is also one of the three U.S. metro areas to gain at least 1.2 million residents over the decade. (Dallas-Fort Worth and New York are the others.)

Harris County picked up at least 300,000 residents (638,686) between 2010 and 2020. Tarrant County in North Texas also owns that distinction.

Elsewhere in Texas, Austin now ranks as the 28th most populous metro area in the U.S. (2,283,371 residents), surpassing Las Vegas (ranked 29th, with 2,265,461 residents) and inching closer to 27th-ranked Pittsburgh (2,370,930 residents).

Among the country's 50 largest metro areas, Austin notched the biggest jump in population from 2010 to 2020 (33 percent), with Dallas-Fort Worth at No. 6 (20 percent), and San Antonio at No. 7 (19.4 percent). Austin ranked second among metro areas of all sizes for population growth during the decade, trailing only The Villages, Florida, a 55-and-over retirement community (39 percent).

Dallas-Fort Worth remains the country's fourth largest metro area (7,637,387 residents counted in the 2020 Census) and San Antonio still ranks 24th (2,558,143 residents).

All four of the state's major metros moved up the ranks of the biggest U.S. regions from 2010 to 2020.

Following the 2010 Census, Dallas-Fort Worth was the country's sixth largest metro area (5,121,892 residents), San Antonio stood at No. 26 (1,758,210), and Austin was 37th (1,362,416). In just 10 years, Austin climbed nine spots up the metro population ladder.

Meanwhile, Fort Worth ranked as the fastest-growing big city in Texas between 2010 and 2020 (24 percent), followed by Austin (21.7 percent), Houston (9.8 percent), Dallas (8.9 percent), and San Antonio (8.1 percent).

"Many counties within metro areas saw growth [from 2010 to 2020], especially those in the South and West. However, as we've been seeing in our annual population estimates, our nation is growing slower than it used to," Marc Perry, senior demographer at the Census Bureau, says in a news release.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

The most at-risk areas are in poorer industrial parts of Houston. Getty Images

Texas researchers map out parts of Houston most vulnerable to COVID-19

zooming in

A group of researchers from the University of Texas and the University of Houston have created a mapping tool for identifying which parts of the greater Houston area are at the greatest risk from COVID-19.

"The map offers a comparative look at vulnerabilities across Harris County, and could help policy makers determine how to allocate coronavirus tests and health and safety resources," says Amin Kiaghadi, a research associate at UT's Oden Institute for Computational Engineering & Sciences and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Houston, in a news release.

The study, which is posted on MedRxiv, looked into access to health care, pollutant exposure, and medical insurance coverage. Kiaghadi and two UH professors, Hanadi Rifai and Winston Liaw, concluded that the areas most at risk were in the east and northeastern parts of town — especially industrial areas and high-traffic waterways.

The research showed that the highest risk areas were identified as poorer communities, like the area near the Houston Ship Channel. Consequently, populations with lower risk are in the far west areas of Harris County, which tend to be considered nicer areas. According to the release, around 17 percent of the county's population falls into a risk category.

"I'm really interested to see how decision makers look at these maps," Kiaghadi continues. "They can say 'this specific area is vulnerable to many different things—people living there have lower income, they have or they don't have access to the medical care— and that can change the way that they distribute the resources."

Kiaghadi usually focuses on floodwaters spread contamination, and he postulates that his work in this field had an application within the pandemic.

"We believe that if you're exposed to some chemicals for a long time or you were living in an area with bad air quality, that can affect your immune system long term and then make you more vulnerable to a disease like COVID-19," Kiaghadi says. "So we decided to take a new approach here and show that these factors should be considered."

Based on census data, the map is divided up into 786 polygons and looks into 46 different variables in five categories:

  1. People with limited access to hospitals and medical care.
  2. People with underlying medical conditions.
  3. People with exposures to environmental pollutants.
  4. People in areas vulnerable to natural disasters and flooding.
  5. People with specific lifestyle factors, like obesity, drinking and smoking.

According to the release, the researchers formulated the map within just a couple weeks.

"We already had a lot of knowledge and experience working with this sociodemographic data, and population vulnerability to the flaws in the environment and exposure," Kiaghadi says. "So we felt like, this is totally related to our research, so why not explore what it means?"

The map is broken down by 786 census tracts. Graphic via utexas.edu

Houston added more than a million people in the last decade. Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Bayou City comes close to topping Census Bureau's list for greatest population boom in the country

so popular

The Lone Star State is proving quite popular, at least according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As reported by numbers released on March 26, Texas is home to cities with the fastest-growing large metro area in the nation and the biggest numeric gain of residents.

Those would be Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth, respectively. And we'll delve into their numbers in a minute, because first it's time to talk about Houston.

H-Town actually nipped at DFW's heels in terms of the numeric population gain from 2010 to 2019. In that time, the Houston area picked up 1,145,654 residents, the second highest total among U.S. metros. That's around the number of people who live in the Buffalo, New York, metro area.

Houston stills holds the No. 5 position on the list of the largest U.S. metro areas. The bureau put its 2019 population at 7,066,141, up 19.4 percent from 2010.

Austin, meanwhile, saw its population shoot up 29.8 percent between 2010 and 2019, landing at 2,227,083 as of July 1, 2019. Put another way, the Austin area added 510,760 residents during the one-decade span.

From 2018 to 2019 alone, the Austin area's population rose 2.8 percent, the Census Bureau says. Numerically, the one-year increase was 61,586 (taking into account births, deaths, new arrivals to the area, and people moving away). That works out to 169 people per day.

Helping drive the Austin area's population spike from 2010 to 2019 were two of the country's fastest-growing counties. Hays County ranked as the second-fastest growing county in the U.S. (46.5 percent) in the past decade, the Census Bureau says, with Williamson County at No. 9 (39.8 percent).

In terms of numeric growth, Travis County ranked 10th in the country from 2010 to 2019 with the addition of 249,510 residents, according to the Census Bureau.

While Austin was the fastest-growing major metro area from 2010 to 2019, Dallas-Fort Worth topped the Census Bureau list for the biggest numeric gain. During that period, DFW welcomed 1,206,599 residents. To put that into perspective, that's about the same number of people who live in the entire Salt Lake City metro area.

On July 1, 2019, DFW's population stood at 7,573,136, up 19 percent from 2010. It remains the country's fourth largest metro, behind New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

Although the San Antonio metro area didn't make the top 10 for percentage or numeric growth from 2010 to 2019, two of the region's counties appeared among the 10 fastest-growing counties:

  • Ranked at No. 4, Comal County's population jumped 43.9 percent.
  • Ranked at No. 5, Kendall County's population rose 42.1 percent.

In the previous decade, the San Antonio area's population climbed 19.1 percent, winding up at 2,550,960 in 2019, the Census Bureau says. Over the 10-year period, the region added 408,440 residents.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Texas added more residents from mid-2018 through mid-2019 than any other state. Marco Bicci/Getty Images

Texas added more residents than any other state in past year

Growing gains

Yes, everything is bigger in Texas — including population growth. From mid-2018 to mid-2019, the Lone Star State added more residents than any other state, new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show.

From July 2018 to July 2019, the population of Texas grew by 367,215, according to Census Bureau data released December 30. That's close to the number of people who live in the Dallas-Fort Worth suburb of Arlington (398,112).

Keep in mind that this does not mean nearly 370,000 people moved to Texas in just one year. The Census Bureau's new population estimates represent the number of people who moved to and moved out of each state, as well as the number of births versus deaths.

Texas' 2018-19 population growth eclipsed that of the country's largest state, California.

The Golden State saw its population increase by just 50,635 during the one-year period, the Census Bureau says. What's behind the meager growth? From 2018 to 2019, California's net domestic migration plunged by 203,414. Net domestic migration represents the number of people moving to a state versus the number of people moving out of a state.

Here's another eye opener: Texas accounted for nearly one-fourth of the country's population growth from 2018 to 2019 (1,552,022 people). In that time, 10 states lost population, including Illinois, New Jersey, and New York.

In July 2018, the Texas population stood at an estimated 28,628,666. By July 2019, that figure had climbed to 28,995,881, the Census Bureau says. On a percentage basis, Texas' 2018-19 population growth (1.28 percent) ranked fifth among the states.

Perhaps more impressive is how much Texas expanded from April 2010 (when the last official U.S. headcount was conducted) to July 2019. During that period, Texas added 3,849,790 residents, according to the Census Bureau. To put that into perspective, nearly 4 million people live in the entire state of Oklahoma. Texas' population jumped 15.3 percent from 2010 to 2019, the third highest growth rate behind the District of Columbia and Utah.

Experts cite economic and job growth — along with a low cost of living, a low cost of doing business, and low taxes compared with many other states — as drivers of Texas' population boom. Helping fuel the boom are substantial population spikes in the state's four largest metro areas: Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio.

In 2030, the state's population is projected to approach 34.9 million, according to a forecast from the Texas Demographic Center.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Houston startup rolls out B2B program for onboarding new hires

job training

After seeing success with her internship training and matchmaking platform, Allie Danziger, founder and CEO of Ampersand Professionals, has expanded the concept to include a new hire training service that allows employers to better optimize the onboarding process and have a well-trained new staff member from day one.

In just over a year, Ampersand has worked with over 7,000 professionals through its original concept of upskilling and matching young professionals to internship programs. A few months ago, Danziger and her team expanded to include career development training for students first entering the workforce with the City of Houston's Hire Houston Youth program. Danziger says it was developing out the platform for this program that proved there was a need for this type of training.

"While we have focused on matching professionals with businesses for paid internships, we recognized a further gap with employers that have their own recruiting/talent acquisition teams, or just their own preferred way of bringing on entry-level talent, and didn’t have a need for our matching platform," Danziger tells InnovationMap. "But, they recognized the benefit of our proven training platform that pre-vets and de-risks their hires, and still wanted access to the training for their own hires."

The new program has evolved from training interns to new hires, so parts of the program that focuses on interviewing or applying for a job have been removed. Instead, the 8.5 hours of training focuses on networking, best practices for working with a manager and team, performance reviews, common software training, and more.

Danziger says usually new hires need the most experienced mentor or manager, but they don't usually get that support — especially when it comes to businesses that don't have their own built-out mentorship or training program.

"Ampersand’s new training product fills that gap — it gives employers of any size any easy solution to provide basic job readiness training to employees, access to our team of dedicated coaches, and a detailed report at the end of their training summarizing how their new hire did in the training and any trends recognized and tips for managing this employee based on what the platform uncovered," she says. "Businesses can also sign up for additional coaching sessions and customize training materials, as an add-on if interested."

The program costs the employer $100 per new employee, and checkout online takes less than a minute. Through both this program and the original internship program, Ampersand is constantly evolving its training content.

"These professionals are going through the same training experience that we have proven out over the last year, and we are constantly adding to based on data we see in the user experience," Danziger says.

Danziger recently joined the Houston Innovators Podcast discuss some of the benchmarks she's met with Ampersand, as well as the importance of investing in Gen Z hires. Listen to that episode below.


Houston thought leaders look for extraterrestrial intelligence at Future Focus event

Out of This World

The latest Future Focus discussion held by alliantgroup was out of this world! The company teamed up with InnovationMap to host Dr. Seth Shostak from the SETI Institute at alliantgroup headquarters in the Galleria area. The conversation focused on how new technology is helping in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

Dr. Robert Ambrose, alliantgroup strategic advisory board member, was the moderator for the night. He recently retired from NASA as the chief of software, robotics, and the simulation division, and clarified why it is crucial we have these conversations with Dr. Shostak about space and ask the question: Do aliens exist?

“We should be looking up. We should be thinking about what is coming and how we are going to be a part of it. It is an exciting time in space,” said Dr. Ambrose.

Dr. Shostak has been the senior astronomer and director at the SETI Institute in San Francisco for the past 20 years. He explained to the audience there is a difference between the search for aliens and the search for life in the universe.

“SETI stands for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, but it's not the same as the search for life, which it's often confused with,” explained Dr. Shostak. “You might find life on Mars, but it's not going to be very clever. But when you look for extraterrestrial intelligence, you are looking for the kind of aliens you might see on television or in the movies. Are they intelligent, can they communicate with us, and can they hold a conversation?”

Dr. Shostak believes we can infer aliens exist because of the number of planets and stars there are in the universe. But he also believes the search is heating up thanks to new technology and satellites currently being developed.

“Do I think we probably will find them in our lifetime? I honestly do," he said. "You could say that's just wishful thinking and perhaps it is, but it's more than that. It is the fact that the equipment is getting better very quickly."

He bets that by 2035 we will have found and communicated with extraterrestrial intelligence. Both Dr. Shostak and Dr. Ambrose agree, once we have found this life, our world will change for the better.

“We are going to learn all sorts of things about physics and the rules of the universe that we’ve never uncovered,” explained Dr. Ambrose. “Imagine everything we could have taught humans about the universe a couple hundred years ago. What if we can find someone who could teach us those lessons today? What an acceleration we would have.”

This was just the second Future Focus discussion alliantgroup has hosted, and CEO Dhaval Jadav said he hopes to continue to lead these innovative conversations around technology.

“We started this future focus series of roundtables to engage thought leaders and industry experts on topics related to the development of new technologies," Jadav said. "We are living in a most exciting and heady time, with the adoption of new technologies and platforms accelerating at an unprecedented rate.

"In order for us to stay abreast of all these exciting innovations — from web 3 to sportstech, blockchain, AI/quantum computing, the metaverse and our ever-expanding universe, including the search for extraterrestrial intelligence – we must continue to hold thought-provoking dialogues to further explore and chart our path to the future."

You can click here to learn more about alliantgroup’s previous event and what’s to come.

Courtesy photo

Houston hospital ranked best in state according to recent report

top health care

It’s a three-peat for Houston Methodist Hospital.

For the third in a row, Healthgrades has named Houston Methodist the best hospital in Texas and one of the 50 best hospitals in the country. It’s the only Texas hospital in the top 50. Houston Methodist, a 907-bed facility at the Texas Medical Center, earned the same recognition in 2020 and 2021.

Four other hospitals in the Houston area made Healthgrades’ list of the top 250 hospitals in the U.S.:

  • Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center
  • Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital
  • Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital
  • Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center

Four Houston hospitals also excelled in several of Healthgrades’ specialty categories:

  • Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center, No. 3 in the state for heart surgery.
  • Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center, No. 1 in the state for stroke care and No. 2 for coronary intervention.
  • Houston Methodist Hospital, No. 2 in the state for critical care and No. 2 for pulmonary care.
  • Texas Orthopedic Hospital, No. 1 in the state for joint replacement.

Healthgrades, an online platform for finding physicians, hospitals, and other health care providers, rates hospitals based on clinical outcomes such as rates for patient deaths and treatment complications. For this year’s list, Healthgrades evaluated clinical performance at nearly 4,500 hospitals.

“For almost 25 years, our mission has been to provide consumers with clear and accessible information to make more informed health care decisions,” Dr. Brad Bowman, chief medical officer and head of data science at Healthgrades, says in a news release.

The Healthgrades rankings “provide consumers with increased transparency regarding the care in their areas, and empowers them to make more confident care decisions for themselves and their families,” Bowman adds.

For Houston Methodist, kudos like those from Healthgrades are common. For instance, the hospital last year landed at No. 16 on U.S. News & World Report’s national honor roll for the best hospitals, up from No. 20 the previous year. It was the top-rated Texas hospital on the list.

“These national accolades are something to be proud of, but most important, our patients are benefiting from all of our hard work. Ultimately, they are the reason we need to be one of the best hospital systems in the country,” Dr. Marc Boom, president and CEO of Houston Methodist, said last year in a news release about the U.S. News award.

The Healthgrades honor is one of several pieces of good news for Houston Methodist this year.

The hospital recently unveiled plans for the 26-story Centennial Tower. Scheduled to open in 2027, the $1.4 billion tower will include a larger emergency department and hundreds of patient beds, among other features. The new tower will replace the Houston Main building and West Pavilion.

Shortly after that announcement, the Houston Methodist system said it had received an anonymous $50 million gift. It’s the second largest donation in the system’s 102-year history.

Joining Houston Methodist Hospital in Healthgrades’ national top 250 this year are:

  • Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – McKinney
  • Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Temple
  • Doctors Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg
  • Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene
  • Medical City Arlington
  • Medical City McKinney
  • Methodist Hospital in San Antonio
  • St. David’s Medical Center in Austin
  • St. David’s South Austin Medical Center
  • William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital in Dallas