Lynn Ashby

THE STORE – I am in a long line at this grocery store with my six-pack, waiting behind a crowd that includes a man buying enough food for the 82nd Airborne Division behind a woman who, when given her total, starts rummaging through her purse for her checkbook. Malthus was right. There are too many people on this Earth and it’s getting worse. To refresh your memory, in the late 18th century British economist Thomas Malthus warned the world’s population would outstrip its capacity to feed everyone. Malthus was wrong because he didn’t figure on the Texas Aggies feeding the planet.  

Or was he? There are now more than 8 billion people on the Earth, and many are in this grocery store line. As CBS News reported, the number of humans has spiked in recent decades, growing by a billion in the last 11 years alone. Researchers expect the global population to hit 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 10.4 billion in the 2080s. They forecast it should then remain level until at least 2100. Even so, in recent years population growth has been relatively low, falling to less than 1percent in 2020, according to the United Nations.

Today, China still has more people than India; both have around 1.4 billion people, according to CNBC. (As you can tell, I am getting all this info from other people’s research.) But India is expected to surpass China as early as next year as the world’s most populous nation. Scientific American said most population growth is occurring in the world’s poorest nations. More than half of the new births between 2020 and 2050 will happen in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Tanzania.

More people drives fuel consumption that pumps out carbon dioxide, contributing to climate change. Also, the population will age, meaning we’ll have more older people who do not work but need healthcare and other services. By 2030, for instance, more than 15 percent of the people in the world will be 60 or older. AARP’s membership will boom. So will the need for Disability Parking slots.

Closer to home, according to The New York Times the pace of population growth actually picked up in the U.S. in 2022, but mostly by immigration. You’ve seen those TV shots of thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of wannabe Americans coming in, with that many more waiting for Joe Biden to let them in. Except for our immigrants, our overall growth remains near historically low levels. The U.S. population as of July 1 stood at 333.3 million, up about 0.4 percent compared with 12 months earlier, one of the slowest growth rates in the nation’s history. The overall population gain was 1.26 million, of which immigration accounted for 1 million.

One speed bump is – ta-da! – COVID -19. While the pandemic has killed off about 1 million Americans, pushing the death rate above normal levels. (In 24 states, the number of deaths exceeded births). Nationally, births grew by 106,000 — the first increase in that category since 2015 and the largest since 2007. With all these folks staying at home rather than heading out to work — particularly highly educated women — we might be seeing a further jump in the birthrate. Experts say it’s too soon to know.

Where is America’s population growing and going? Let’s look at the true yardstick: The U-Haul Factor. That truck rental business knows exactly how many customers rent its vehicles, where they are and where they are going to drop off their trucks. Its stats show Americans have GTT – Gone To Texas. Texas is Number 1 in the population explosion. Indeed, some guy just blew up at a refinery in Port Arthur.  It is the second consecutive year that Texas topped the truck rental company's list. One-way moves to Texas increased by 1 percent from 2021, but departures from the state also rose about 1 percent from the previous year. Texas gained 471,000 residents to lead the nation in population growth, followed by Florida (417,000), North Carolina (133,000) and Georgia (125,000). While Florida experienced the highest percentage change, a 1.9 percent growth, smaller states like Idaho (1.8 percent) and South Carolina (1.7 percent) ranked among the leaders in percentage growth. A single large family moving to Boise doubles the head count percentage. 

New York, which lost 180,000 residents, California (114,000) and Illinois (104,000) lost the most people. Obviously, folks in the north are moving south. Since 1990, the population has grown by nearly 50 percent in the American South and West, but is up by just 12 percent in the Northeast and 15 percent in the Midwest. Texas and Florida, which comprise 16 percent of the nation’s population, accounted for 71 percent of the population growth last year. To reverse the lyrics in “West Side Story,” “Everyone up there is down here.”

With all these newcomers arriving in Texas, where did they go? Mostly to the suburbs. According to the U-Haul Factor, the Texas cities that experienced the largest net growth in 2022 were Missouri City, Richardson and Conroe. Other cities that experienced growth include Roanoke, Porter, Pharr, College Station-Bryan, Cypress, Mesquite, Katy, Magnolia, Huntsville, Longview, Prosper, North Richland Hills, Baytown and Kingwood. 

This growth in the Lone Star State is not new. Texas recorded the largest population growth in the nation over the past decade, adding 4.5 million people for a total of 25.1 million. But no one moves to Pecos or San Augustine. Indeed, according to the 2020 U.S. Census, 79 of Texas 254 counties actually lost population. All but a handful of them were west of Interstate 35. Even more counties would have lost population if not for the decade's huge Latino growth; the number of Anglos declined in 162 Texas counties, including much of West Texas and the Panhandle.

So what’s in it for you? Drive U-Hauls back to California, learn Spanish and find a short line at your grocery store. 

Ashby lines up at  

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