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.

Nearly 4 million people became Texans in the past decade. Courtesy photo

Texas explodes with 16 percent surge in population, new census data shows

Growth spurt

Texas' population swelled so much from 2010 to 2020 that it essentially swallowed a state the size of Oklahoma.

Figures released April 26 by the U.S. Census Bureau show Texas gained 3,999,944 residents from April 2010 to April 2020. By comparison, the entire population of Oklahoma totaled 3,959,353 in April 2020. Those nearly 4 million new residents brought Texas' population to 29,145,505 as of April 2020.

Buoyed by a spike in the Hispanic population and an influx of out-of-state and international arrivals, Texas led the nation for the sheer number of residents added from the every-10-years headcount in 2010 to the headcount in 2020. Florida ranked second in that category (2,736,877), and California ranked third (2,284,267).

"The growth for Texas was a little bit slower than expected, which may be a function of lower fertility rates post-Great Recession and slower international migration," Lloyd Potter, the Texas state demographer, tells CultureMap.

California still remains the biggest state as measured by population (39,538,223). However, the Quartz news website reported in 2019 that Texas' population could surpass California's by 2045.

Meanwhile, Texas holds the No. 3 position for percentage population growth from 2010 to 2020, according to Census Bureau data. The state's population shot up by 15.9 percent during that period, behind only Utah (18.4 percent) and Idaho (17.3 percent). By contrast, California saw its population climb by just 6.1 percent from 2010 to 2020.

As a result of population shifts across the country, Texas will pick up two seats in the U.S. House, bringing its total to 38, the Census Bureau says. Five states will add one seat each: Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon. Seven states will lose one seat each: California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

Based on earlier population estimates, experts had expected Texas to tack on three congressional seats following the 2020 Census. But Potter says Texas' growth relative to population changes in other states pared the Lone Star State's final tally to two more seats.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Houston is the most stressed out city in Texas, report finds

deep breaths

Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but a new report by WalletHub shows Houston residents are far more stressed out than any other city in Texas.

Houston ranked No. 18 out of 182 of the largest U.S. cities based on work, financial, family-related, and health and safety stress, according to WalletHub's "Most & Least Stressed Cities in America (2024)" report. 39 relevant metrics were considered in the report, including each city's job security, the share of households behind on bills within the last 12 months, divorce rates, crime rates, among others.

Houston was ranked the most stressed out city in Texas, but it's still far less stressed than many other U.S. cities. Cleveland, Ohio took first place as the most stressed city in America, followed by Detroit, Michigan (No. 2), Baltimore, Maryland (No. 3), Memphis, Tennessee (No. 4), and Gulfport, Mississippi (No. 5).

Out of the four main categories, Houstonians are struggling the most with work-related stress, ranking No. 13 nationally. The report found Houston has the No. 1 highest traffic congestion rate out of all cities in the report. But at least Houston drivers are solidly average, as maintained by a separate Forbes study comparing the worst drivers in America.

Houston workers can rejoice that they live in a city with a generally high level of guaranteed employment, as the city ranked No. 151 in the job security comparison. The city ranked No. 16 nationwide in the metric for the highest average weekly hours worked.

Houston fared best in the financial stress category, coming in at No. 72 nationally, showing that Houstonians aren't as worried about pinching pennies when it comes to maintaining a good quality of life. The city ranked No. 39 in the comparison of highest poverty rates.

Here's how WalletHub quantified Houston's stress levels:

  • No. 17 – Health and safety stress rank (overall)
  • No. 36 – Family stress rank (overall)
  • No. 63 – Unemployment rates
  • No. 81 – Percentage of adults in fair/poor health
  • No. 95 – Divorce rate
  • No. 96 – Percentage of adults with inadequate sleep

WalletHub analyst Cassandra Happe said in the report that living in particularly arduous cities can play a big role in how stressed a person is, especially when considering uncontrollable circumstances like family problems or work-related issues.

"Cities with high crime rates, weak economies, less effective public health and congested transportation systems naturally lead to elevated stress levels for residents," Happe said.

Happe advised that residents considering a move to a place like Houston should consider how the city's quality of life will impact their mental health, not just their financial wellbeing.

Other Texas cities that ranked among the top 100 most stressed cities in the U.S. are:

  • No. 20 – San Antonio
  • No. 38 – Laredo
  • No. 41 – Dallas
  • No. 47 – Corpus Christi
  • No. 61 – El Paso
  • No. 68 – Fort Worth
  • No. 71 – Brownsville
  • No. 75 – Arlington
  • No. 78 – Grand Prairie
  • No. 88 – Garland
The full report and its methodology can be found on wallethub.com

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Houston cardiac health startup raises $43 million series B to grow AI-backed platform

money moves

A Houston-based tech company that has a product line of software solutions for cardiac health has raised funding.

Octagos Health, the parent company of Atlas AI — a software platform for cardiac devices like pacemakers, defibrillators, ambulatory monitors and consumer wearables — has announced a $43 million series B raise that will bring their technology to many more hearts.

Morgan Stanley Investment Capital led the investment, which also included funds from Mucker Capital and other continuing strategic investors. The goal of the raise is to supply funds to accelerate Atlas AI’s growth across the United States and to expand into other areas of care, including ambulatory monitors, consumer wearables, and sleep.

"This investment will enable us to accelerate enhancements to our platform, in addition to scaling our commercial team and operations. We are currently the only company that helps cardiology practices migrate their historical data from legacy software providers and fully integrates with any EHR (exertion heart rate) system. We do this while enabling customized reporting supported by patient and practice decision-support analytics," says Eric Olsen, COO of Octagos Health, in a press release.

Octagos Health was founded by a team of healthcare pros including CEO Shanti Bansal, a cardiologist and founder of Houston Heart Rhythm, an atrial fibrillation center. The goal was to find a new way to deal with the massive amount of data that clinicians encounter each day in a way that combines software and the work of human doctors.

According to the Octagos Health website, “Our solution allows clinicians to focus on other ways of delivering meaningful healthcare and more efficiently manage their remotely monitored patients.”

It works thanks to customizable reporting features that allow patients’ healthcare teams to get help while monitoring them, but to do it precisely as they would if they were crunching numbers themselves.

"We are excited to partner with Octagos Health and support their vision of transforming cardiac care," says Melissa Daniels, managing director of Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital. "Octagos Health has demonstrated exceptional growth and innovation in a critical area of healthcare. We believe their platform and vertically integrated software and services significantly improve patient care and streamline cardiac monitoring processes for healthcare providers."

Will Hsu, co-founder and partner of Mucker Capital, agrees. “Octagos Health is poised for scale – industry leading gross margins, a very sticky product that doctors and clinical staff love, and a market ready for disruption with artificial intelligence. This is the new wave for diagnostic care,” he says. And with this raise, it will be available to even more clinicians and patients across the country.

Houston biotech company expands leadership as it commercializes sustainable products

joining the team

Houston-based biotech company Cemvita recently tapped two executives to help commercialize its sustainable fuel made from carbon waste.

Nádia Skorupa Parachin came aboard as vice president of industrial biotechnology, and Phil Garcia was promoted to vice president of commercialization.

Parachin most recently oversaw several projects at Boston-based biotech company Ginkjo Bioworks. She previously co-founded Brazilian biotech startup Integra Bioprocessos.

Parachin will lead the Cemvita team that’s developing technology for production of bio-manufactured oil.

“It’s a fantastic moment, as we’re poised to take our prototyping to the next level, and all under the innovative direction of our co-founder Tara Karimi,” Parachin says in a news release. “We will be bringing something truly remarkable to market and ensuring it’s cost-effective.”

Moji Karimi, co-founder and CEO of Cemvita, says the hiring of Parachin represents “the natural next step” toward commercializing the startup’s carbon-to-oil process.

“Her background prepared her to bring the best out of the scientists at the inflection point of commercialization — really bringing things to life,” says Moji Karimi, Tara’s brother.

Parachin joins Garcia on Cemvita’s executive team.

Before being promoted to vice president of commercialization, Garcia was the startup’s commercial director and business development manager. He has a background in engineering and business development.

Founded in 2017, Cemvita recently announced a breakthrough that enables production of large quantities of oil derived from carbon waste.

In 2023, United Airlines agreed to buy up to one billion gallons of sustainable aviation fuel from Cemvita’s first full-scale plant over the course of 20 years.

Cemvita’s investors include the UAV Sustainable Flight Fund, an investment arm of Chicago-based United; Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, an investment arm of Houston-based energy company Occidental Petroleum; and Japanese equipment and machinery manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

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This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.