Whoa there, cowboy
Census 2010 Throwdown: Houston too hot to handle?
Census Bureau estimates indicate that the Houston area saw the second largest population increase in the country, second only to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. This is the second consecutive year in which Houston and DFW have ranked as the top two population winners.
Klineberg says that the 2010 Census will provide concrete numbers on what we already know: Houston is the country's most diverse city, in which 75 percent of citizens under 30 are non-Anglo — a segment that stands in sharp contrast to the over-60 pre-1982 oil bust population, which is overwhelmingly Anglo. The Rice academic warns, "The unavailability of quality public education for Houston's immigrant communities —over 60 percent of students enrolled in HISD schools are Latino — will create a majority urban underclass unable to survive in a 21st century knowledge economy."
Could an impending economic disparity render a once prosperous metropolis a Third World nightmare?
In addition to economic divisions, Klinebergs notes, "If Houston does not quickly address sprawl and urban amenities, the city will miss out on the country's creative class — a group of people who may choose to live anywhere."
Houstonians are eager to boast passing up Chicago as America's third-largest city in this census, but Klineberg suggests we keep our feet on the ground. "Houston government has a land grab mentality. We're able to constantly absorb suburbs to increase our population and tax base. Chicago is frozen in that way."
He urges eschewing our previous focus on city population, but instead think like urban sociologists in terms of MCMRs: Multicentered Metropolitan Regions, urban areas in which the city's edge and suburban threshold are increasingly blurred. It's no question that the City of Houston will pass Chicago in population, but when it comes to metropolitan areas, Chicago's MCMR will still have Houston beat by three million citizens, according to Klineberg.
The Houston MCMR also will fall short of DFW. Whereas Houston-Sugarland-Baytown went up by more than 140,000 to 5.86 million between July 2008 and July 2009, DFW increased by more than 146,000 people to just under 6.4 million. Austin-Round Rock scored number 12, with San Antonio coming in at 16th. Estimates also illustrated that six Texas counties, including Fort Bend and Montgomery County in the Houston area, are among the 30 fastest-growing in the nation during the past decade.
The 2010 Census will be cause to celebrate the city's success when results for cities and states are released in December — but keep your eyes on the numbers and social consequences before popping open that champagne.