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Demographer: Infrastructure Needs Come With Sharp Harris County Population

Word that Harris County added more residents than any other county in the U.S. last year isn't a huge surprise to the former state demographer. Steve Murdock, who now teaches at Rice University, cautions that improvements to the local infrastructure must come with the continued growth.

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Murdock has also served as the director of the U.S. Census Bureau and says it’s pretty clear why so many people want to come to the Houston area: it’s the jobs and the economy.  

He says many of those new residents came from other states, not other countries.

“Demographers refer to international migration, which is from other counties of course, and domestic migration. And during this period of time from the last census date of April 1st to the date of this particular census release, July 1st, we gained over 290,000 people in Texas from other states.”
 
The U.S. Census Bureau reports Harris County added about 80,000 new resident between July of 2011 and July of last year. The Greater Houston area grew by more than 125,000, second only to the Dallas area.

Murdock says with that growth comes concerns about whether the Houston area can handle the new residents.

“One of the factors that impacts many areas is simply infrastructure. Do you have the roads, do you have the other services to maintain those population bases. So certainly those are things that local jurisdictions involved will have to be sensitive to because people across the country have become aware of what’s working and what’s not working.”

Los Angeles County was second on the Census Bureau’s latest list of the fastest growing U.S. counties, adding almost 74,000 residents. Dallas County was fourth on the list.

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Jack is back in Houston after some time away working in public radio and television in Lincoln, Nebraska. Before leaving for the Midwest, he worked in various roles at Houston Public Media from 2000-2016, including reporting, hosting and anchoring. Jack has also worked in commercial news radio in Houston, Austin...

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Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

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Laurie Johnson-Ramirez leads news coverage for Houston Public Media across broadcast and digital platforms. Ramirez is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Before becoming News Director, Ramirez held the position of Executive Producer for Daily News, leading daily and breaking news coverage, helping...

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