The Austin of today is nearly unrecognizable from it’s past. In 1970, Austin had a population total of less than 400,000 people, making it the 78th largest metropolitan area in the United States. Today, there are 2.3 million people living in the Austin area, making it the 29th largest metropolitan area. From 1970-2021, the population has grown by 471%. Since 2000, the population has grown by 82%. In 1970, Austin represented 3.5% of the state of Texas’ population, and is now 7.8% of the population. The GIF below shows the population growth from 1970-2021, with each dot representing 100 people.

Digging deeper into the demographics, Austin ranks high in many categories. Of all major metropolitan areas (those over 1 million in total population), Austin ranks 3rd highest in education for those holding a university degree, the youngest median householder age (45.4), 1st in housing build since 2010, 1st in working from home, and 12th in median household income. As we dig into race and ethnic origins, one third of the population is of Hispanic origin, adding to the city’s ethnic diversity.

The largest employers in the Austin area are companies that you know—Apple, Dell, IMB, Samsung, and soon, likely Tesla, who recently announced that they are moving their headquarters to Austin. There are also a high number of government employees, which isn’t surprising given that Austin is the state capital. Interestingly, there is only one fortune 1000 firm located in Austin: Whole Foods. More companies are moving into the area, likely due to favorable tax laws in Texas, as well as a lower cost of living for their employees compared to San Francisco and New York.

Housing is mostly new, with the youngest average age of housing stock at 16.5 years old, which correlates directly to the growth. Interestingly, Austin is tied for the 2nd highest rank of people living in boats, RVs and vans behind Tucson and Phoenix. Austin has relatively high housing costs. Despite having the 29th largest population, it has the 15th highest housing cost.

If you have spent any time in Austin, you will know that this growth hasn’t come without some growing pains. Small towns and villages surrounding the city of Austin have been swallowed up in recent years due to the rapid growth. In 1970 the town of Round Rock, north of Austin, had 4,400 residents. Today, it boasts a population of 138,000. Little towns like Pflugerville once had 750 total residents, but today have 69,000 people living there. Rural towns are not exempt from this, either. Bee Cave, which in 1970 had a total of 20 residents, now has a population of 6,600. As expansion has skyrocketed, infrastructure has not been able to keep up. Austin has major traffic complaints, especially for commuters to the west, where new highways are desperately needed. It is also worth noting that many new highways in the area are costly toll roads, which many cannot justify for daily commutes.

Only time will tell where Austin will be in another 50 years. Will new companies moving in make the city even more expensive than it is today? Will it be as desirable a location for newer generations? If the explosive growth continues, Austin will need to make major infrastructure investments to keep up with the growing demand.