The San Antonio metropolitan area saw a 10.6 percent growth in population from 2014 to 2018 compared to the previous five-year period, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent estimates released on Thursday.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s five-year estimates published as part of the 2014-2018 American Community Survey showed that the San Antonio-New Braunfels metropolitan statistical area gained 233,480 residents compared to the last five-year estimate period of 2009 to 2013.

During the 2014-2018 period, the metropolitan area had 2,426,204 residents, while 2,192,724 lived in the area during the 2009-2013 period.

The Census Bureau uses metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) to analyze data from big cities because such boundaries take into account larger populations rather than more narrowly defined municipal or county boundaries, public information officer Jewel Jordan explained. They are also more comparable in size.

“We look at MSAs because MSAs take into account larger populations, [they] follow more along the lines of what people think of as a larger area,” Jordan said. “When they think of a specific city, they often think of a metro area.”

Though Bexar County added a significantly higher number of residents – 172,627 new residents for a 9.8 percent increase in population – compared to its neighbor Comal County, Comal saw a higher rate of population growth. The county, which includes New Braunfels and surrounding areas, saw 20.5 percent growth with 23,014 new residents in the latest five-year period compared to 2009-2013. In 2017, census data showed Comal County was the nation’s second fastest-growing county with a population of at least 10,000.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said he was pleased to see the steady population growth of Bexar County, as well as the number of new jobs added each year. Employment rates in the metropolitan area saw a small bump; in 2009-2013, 92.2 percent of the labor force was employed. That employment rate increased to 94.6 percent of the labor force in 2014-2018.

“As we gain population, we’re still gaining jobs, exactly what you want to do,” Wolff said. “We see that as continuing, maybe even increasing – we have no reason to believe it will slide down.”

San Antonio was also recently ranked as one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. State demographer Lloyd Potter said in May that the speedy growth creates challenges for the city, primarily keeping up with population increase with adequate infrastructure and schools.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg said that the area’s growth shows how urgent addressing housing, education, and transportation challenges are for San Antonio.

“In 2020, we will launch the development of a modern multimodal transportation system,” Nirenberg said in a statement. “San Antonio can’t continue evolving into a major city of the future without a reliable, more efficient mass transit system.”

Other changes in the San Antonio metropolitan area between the 2009-2013 estimates and 2014-2018 estimates:

  • The San Antonio metro area got a little older. In 2009-2013, 11.5 percent of the population was 65 years and older. In 2014-2018, that segment rose to 12.5 percent. 
  • The median household income in the metropolitan area increased by 11.6 percent from the 2009-2013 five-year estimate to the 2014-2018 five-year estimate. 
  • The area’s housing supply also grew. In 2018, there were 883,332 housing units compared to 2013’s 843,448.
  • Almost half of renters in the San Antonio metropolitan area still spend 30 percent or more on housing costs. The Department of Housing and Urban Development considers households who spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing as “cost-burdened.” In the 2014-2018 estimates, 47.4 percent of renters were paying 30 percent or more of their household income on rent. That’s a slight increase from the 46.9 percent of renters in the 2009-2013 estimates.

Jackie Wang is a general assignment reporter at the Rivard Report.

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