Scott Ball / Rivard Report
San Antonio's population increased by about 10 percent since 2011 to 1,439,358, according to new estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday. The city's growth is second to Austin (16.1 percent), but outpaces that of Houston (7.2 percent) and Dallas (6.8 percent) over the same time period.
"It’s a little bit slower growth," said Rogelio Saenz, dean of the School of Public Policy at the University of Texas at San Antonio, who compared the figure relative to the State Demographer's projections of about 2 percent per year, "but it reflects the slowdown of the Latino population growth."
Saenz said that immigration from Mexico slowed following the 2008 recession throughout Texas and the nation. Latino immigration is considered one of the drivers of San Antonio's population growth.
Steve Nivin, chief economist for the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, attributed the growth rate to more attractive job prospects in Texas cities than elsewhere in recent years.
"That kind of growth doesn’t surprise me," he said. "San Antonio saw quite a bit of population growth into the recession and into the recovery."
Data on San Antonio's population growth was just a sliver of the vast quantity of data contained in the American Community Survey (ACS). The five-year estimates are the U.S. Census Bureau's official demographic data source, describing nationwide demographic, economic, and cultural trends every five years. This year's survey data reports national estimates from 2012 to 2016, and includes estimates for all zip codes in Texas.
The survey indicated that more people are moving into suburbs on the far east and west sides of San Antonio beyond Loop 1604. Several neighborhoods experienced significant population changes in these areas since 2011.
The survey data showed that zip codes with the most population growth since 2011 include 78245, near Lackland Air Force Base, with 22.9 percent; 78154, the area surrounding and including Schertz, with 32.5 percent; and 41.5 percent in 78253, the area that includes Alamo Ranch, where the German grocery chain Lidl will be opening a new store in 2018.
Populations declined in a handful of zip codes, including 78264, a rural area south of Brooks City Base, and 78207 just west of downtown.
While San Antonio appears to be growing quickly relative to other Texas cities, the city's progress in improving educational outcomes for adults 25 years and older has been slower. In 2011, 81.1 percent of San Antonio's adult population held at least a high school degree. That number increased only slightly in 2016, to about 81.6 percent or about 742,053 individuals. Currently in Texas, 82.3 percent of adults have a high school degree or higher.
Of San Antonio's adult population 25 years and older in 2016, 18.5 percent have a 12th-grade education or below, with no high school diploma. Just over 23 percent of San Antonians have some college education but no degree, while 7.2 percent have an associate degree, 16.2 percent have a bachelor's degree, and 8.8 percent have a graduate or professional degree, the survey data showed.
About 20 percent of Bexar County residents live below poverty level, compared to the state average of 16.7 percent, the survey indicated. This percentage has not changed from 2015 estimates showing Bexar County's poverty level at 19.8 percent. An estimated 364,915 minors currently live below the poverty level in San Antonio. Additionally, the Gini Index of Income Inequality, which is an index for expressing how equally income is distributed, for San Antonio inched up from 0.41 in 2011 to 0.42 in 2016.
Meanwhile, median household incomes rose countywide by 7.7 percent since 2011. San Antonio's median household income of $48,183 in 2016 was less than that of Bexar County ($59,907) and fell slightly behind the median household income for Texas, which is $54,727.
Household incomes rose in most San Antonio zip codes, except for a handful of Northside areas, including zip code 78248, which encompasses the neighborhoods surrounding the intersection of Huebner and Bitters roads, and 78256, where the median household income fell by as much as $13,000. Pockets of income decline also occurred in a few Southside neighborhoods.
The survey data showed that rent increases in San Antonio do not yet outpace income growth, but rents increased on average throughout Bexar County by 13.26 percent, or about $111.63. The median gross rent in Bexar County in 2016 was $969, in step with the national median rent for 2015, which was $959.
Rents decreased the most in the Boerne area, and increased most dramatically just west of Lackland.