In line with national trends, Harris County's Asian population was the fastest growing racial or ethnic group between 2015 and 2016, according to new estimates from the Census Bureau. Though the Asian population was still the smallest of the four major groups, it grew 3 percent in the last year, keeping pace with the national increase. That's compared to the county's overall growth rate of just 1 percent between 2015 and 2016. Looking beyond the county limits however, the Asian population in the Houston metropolitan area has been growing even faster, according to recent estimates, reflecting large Asian populations in suburban communities like Sugar Land.
"Our nation continues to be more diverse," said Lauren Medina, a demographer with the Census Bureau in a news release. "Nationwide, across all race and ethnic groups, non-Hispanic white grew the slowest between July 1, 2015 and July 1, 2016. These increases included a 3 percent growth for Asians and 2 percent for Hispanics. The non-Hispanic White alone group grew less than one-hundredth of one percent and only gained about 5,000 people."
Likewise in Harris County, both the Hispanic and black population grew by 2 percent in 2016 while the county's white population remained flat. Meanwhile, Harris County's net gain between 2015 and 2016 is thanks largely to international immigration to the county, according to an earlier release. That same release found that Phoenix's Maricopa County added more people between 2015 and 2016 than Houston's Harris County, knocking it out of first place for the biggest population gains after eight years on top.
The growth of the Hispanic community is likely to continue, even as Hispanic immigration slows nationally, thanks to young families forming and expanding. That's also helping to drive Harris County's relatively young age. More than half of Harris County residents — 53 percent — were 34 years old or younger in 2016. Nationally, the median age — the age at which half is younger and half the population is older — in 2016 was 37.9.