Seven of the 15 fastest-growing cities in the U.S. are in Texas, where an energy boom and job growth are luring more than 1,000 residents a day, according to U.S. Census data.
San Marcos grew at a faster rate than any city or town with a population of at least 50,000 during the year ended July 1, data released today show. Nearby Austin, the state’s capital, added more residents than any city with a population of fewer than 1 million.
Rick Perry, the Republican governor and a potential presidential candidate in 2016, has used population growth in Texas make the case that his policies should be applied nationwide.
“It’s clear the Texas model works,” Perry, 64, says in a recorded voice message that callers to his office hear when they are placed on hold. He blamed Washington-style policies for “the kind of sluggish growth we’re seeing outside of Texas.”
Individuals and businesses have been drawn to the state’s mix of “low taxes, smart regulations, fair courts and a skilled and competitive workforce,” Lucy Nashed, a Perry spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. Perry, who has traveled to several states seeking to attract jobs, was in New York in May to recruit companies to Texas, the second-largest state by population.
Perry has credited his state’s energy policies with driving its economy. The unemployment rate in Texas was 5.2 percent in April, the lowest since September 2008.
“You can safely, environmentally soundly, produce these resources,” Perry said May 20 on CNBC. “This natural gas, I would suggest to you, is the fuel that’s going to drive the world in the future.”
Other fast-growing Texas cities are located near Austin, Dallas and in a western section of the state that’s home to one of the nation’s largest oil reserves, according to the Census Bureau.
San Marcos grew 8 percent to 54,076, partly the result of its proximity to other rapidly growing localities, Mayor Daniel Guerrero said in a telephone interview from Chicago, where he was meeting with businesses to recruit them to his city.
“You have a number of folks from New York, from Illinois, California and Florida that are beginning to make their way toward Texas,” he said.
The unemployment rate in the Austin metropolitan area, which includes San Marcos, was 3.8 percent in April, compared with a U.S. rate of 6.3 percent.
Austin added 21,000 residents, though its growth rate isn’t among the 15 highest.
More than 200 companies have relocated to or expanded in Austin in the last two years, according to the Austin Chamber of Commerce. Apple Inc. is building a 1 million square foot campus.
Mark Hollis, 48, who hopes to move to Austin from Florida after he sells his house this year, said he and his wife were drawn to the “lifestyle and culture” of central Texas. Hollis, who works in state government in Tallahassee, said he’s preparing for a job interview in Austin. His wife moved there earlier this year.
“Since it’s such a fast-growing area and rich in opportunities, I’m pretty hopeful that there are going to be opportunities for me,” he said.
Odessa, Texas, the 11th fastest growing American city, had a 2.9 percent unemployment rate in April. Energy jobs have driven growth in Odessa, a city of about 110,000, located on the Permian Basin in western Texas. Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling helped unlock shale deposits of oil at the Permian Basin, where oil production has almost doubled since 2009, according to the U.S. Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration.
Most of the 15 fastest-growing cities were in the South and western U.S., according to the Census. South Jordan and Lehi, both in Utah, were the only cities outside Texas ranked among the top five.
New York, with 8.4 million residents, remained the largest U.S. city, adding 69,000 people last year. Los Angeles, with 3.9 million residents, and Chicago, with 2.7 million, ranked second and third, both adding residents last year.