Stand up for the facts!
Misinformation isn't going away just because it's a new year. Support trusted, factual information with a tax deductible contribution to PolitiFact.
I would like to contribute
An Austin political consultant worried recently about the city handling more growth.
Lynda Rife, campaign manager for a group that unsuccessfully sought voter approval of a rail-and-roads proposition, said afterward she hopes transportation issues can still be fixed. She told the Austin Monitor: "110 people will move here tomorrow, and the next day and the next day. I’m hoping that someone is thinking about some kind of solutions."
We were curious whether 110 people a day move to Austin.
That's a figure we've seen cited elsewhere, including in 2014 news stories in the Austin American-Statesman, which used it in terms of the estimated number of people moving to the Austin area, not the city of Austin alone. (Mostly recently, a Statesman news story posted online Nov. 1, 2014 said: "U.S. Census data shows an estimated 110 people a day are moving to Central Texas.")
Rife told us by email that she came across the figure in a Feb. 14, 2014, Austin Business Journal news story quoting Ryan Robinson, the city of Austin demographer. That article reported that Robinson mentioned the statistic in a speech, saying it reflects "net arrivals per day," factoring in people who leave the city. "The state of our union is very, very good," Robinson was quoted as saying.
A day later, KVUE-TV, Channel 24 in Austin, quoted Robinson saying that every day, 150 people move into the five-county Austin area and 40 residents move out, leaving 110 net migrants. And a March 2014 American-Statesman news story said bureau estimates indicated that since April 2010, net migration into Austin’s five-county metro area was 110 people a day, with an additional 30 per day added, the story said, because area births outpaced deaths.Of the 140 people added each day, the story said, 81 settled in Travis County.
Along similar lines, Rife later told us she should have said 110 people are moving to the "area" rather than just "Austin."
Origin of '110' uncertain
To our queries, city officials didn’t elaborate on exactly how they reached the 110-a-day figure. We also queried Beverly Kerr, lead researcher with the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, who speculated the figure was based at one time on results of the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey.
The 2013 bureau survey, Kerr said by email, suggests 139,096 residents moved into the Austin area over the previous year. That breaks out to 381 people a day moving to Travis, Williamson, Hays, Caldwell or Bastrop counties, which make up the government's definition of the metro area. On a longer timeline, Kerr said, another chamber researcher explored the bureau’s survey results for 2008 through 2012 and calculated that over those years, 308 people a day moved into the region while about 206 people a day moved out, leaving 102 net settlers a day.
Census Bureau, state demographer
We sought additional insight from the U.S. Census Bureau and a state expert.
Robert Bernstein, a bureau spokesman, said by email that according to its estimates, Austin grew by 20,993 residents from July 2012 through June 2013. That breaks out to net growth in the city of nearly 58 residents a day, Bernstein advised.
Lloyd Potter, the Texas state demographer, said that per the bureau’s resident population estimates for April 2010 through June 2013, Austin’s population grew by about 63 people a day with migrants into the city accounting for 39 of the daily newbies, he said. By phone, Potter said the estimates -- based on sources including federal tax returns -- also roll in the effect of local births outpacing deaths.
According to the bureau’s estimates, Potter said, an average of 141 people a day moved to the Austin-Round Rock metropolitan area in the same period. Potter said these estimates further suggest the Austin-area counties netted 93 migrants a day -- a figure taking into account some residents leaving.
Bernstein, asked if the bureau had more Austin-specific detail, replied that according to other agency estimates, nearly 236 people a day moved into Austin from elsewhere in Texas, other states or abroad in 2013. Notably, Bernstein said, this figure doesn’t include additional Austin residents due to births outpacing deaths.
Another bureau official offered a different calculation for the latest survey year, forwarded to us by Bernstein, suggesting 80,619 people moved to Austin from within the U.S. -- an average 221 movers-in a day. Another 10,988 newcomers were estimated to have landed in Austin from other countries -- an average 30 a day. In contrast, 77,103 Austin residents left for another U.S. location, the bureau estimates, an average 211 a day. By movers in and movers out alone, the figures suggest, Austin’s population increased about 40 people a day.
Rife said 110 people move to Austin a day.
We failed to pin the basis for this oft-aired figure, but it is in the ballpark with federal estimates of the number of people recently moving into the city's five-county region.
But Austin alone? The latest estimates we found for the city -- the entity most affected by the road-and-rails package Rife was discussing when she declared her 110 -- signal that even more people move into the city each day. Yet that's counterbalanced by nearly as many people moving out -- leaving a balance of perhaps 40 to 60 settled newcomers a day.
We rate the 110-a-day-to-Austin statement Mostly False.
MOSTLY FALSE – The statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression.
Click here for more on the six PolitiFact ratings and how we select facts to check.
Emails, Lynda Rife, consultant, Nov. 5 and Nov. 13, 2014
News story, "Austin rejects bond for urban rail by wide margin," the Austin Monitor, Nov. 5, 2014
News story, "How many people move to Austin a day? Here's the official number," Austin Business Journal, Feb. 14, 2014
News story, "Austin, by the numbers, is continuing to boom, census data shows," Austin American-Statesman, posted online March 27, 2014
Email, Beverly Kerr, vice president, Research, Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, Nov. 13, 2014
Email and telephone interview, Lloyd Potter, Texas state demographer, Nov. 8 and 12, 2014
Emails, Robert Bernstein, public affairs specialist, U.S. Census Bureau, Nov. 7 and 10, 2014
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.