The “Texas miracle” continues. Forbes magazine recently unveiled its annual list of “America’s Fastest-Growing Cities,” and Austin topped it for the second year in the row, with Dallas (number two), Houston (four) and San Antonio (nine) all cracking the top ten.
“The Lone Star State capitalized on low taxes and cheap real estate to draw in jobs from the rest of the country,” wrote Forbes‘ Daniel Fisher. “To construct this list, we pulled data from Moody’s Analytics on the 100 largest metropolitan areas, giving extra weight to projected economic growth and subtracting points for low median incomes and high unemployment rates. The result is a list of cities that aren’t just growing, but creating opportunities.”
Fisher tells the tale of what might be America’s only competitive real estate market, while also praising employers–like Apple, Progressive Insurance, and Whole Foods–the absence of state income tax, the presence of the University of Texas, and the fact that state capitals often do better economically than other cities.
Somewhat less convincingly, he also mentions the claim by “boosters” of the new Formula One racetrack that its existence may improve the chances of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport actually being international, which would make the city more attractive for corporate relocations.
Austin’s projected economic growth rate from 2011-2016 is 6.1 percent, “more than double the national as a whole,” Fisher reported. Its projected population growth rate of 2.8 percent was triple the national rate.
“Since 1990,” Fisher also wrote, “Austin has added 1 million residents, more than the entire population of the city of Detroit.”
Which is why it’s no surprise that yesterday, as Laylan Copelin of the Austin American-Statesman reported, the Public Utility Commission of Texas announced that Austin will soon join Dallas and Houston in the big-boy metropolitan area category of “more than one area code.” Beginning in July, 2013, 737 will join 512 as a Central Texas area code, with ten-digit dialing for all local calls.
Forbes‘ second-place finisher Dallas-Fort Worth has a projected economic growth rate of 4.9 percent and a population increase of 2.2 percent.
But Fisher’s story spends more time analyzing Houston:
Houston places fourth, as the city’s proximity to booming Latin America economies and cheap real estate promise to continue a decades-long expansion that has seen the Houston MSA’s population climb 65% since 1990 to a current 6.3 million. Moody’s projects Houston will add another 484,000 residents — the equivalent of Kansas City, Mo. — by 2016. Houston’s economy, powered by energy and health care, is expected to grow at 4.6% a year over the period.
Based on growth alone, McAllen also would have made the cut, but the Rio Grande Valley hub scored too poorly on median household income.
Texas was also just named “the top state to conduct business” by Chief Executive magazine for the eighth straight year.