Guide to Reading

Main Idea  

The United States census provides important information about population changes and nationalities/cultures in Texas.

Key Terms




Reading Strategy


Read to Learn​

  • About a census and what it is

  • How the population of U.S. compares in race, gender, and age

  • About populous areas

Section Theme  Continuity and Change: Census results help to predict future needs in Texas.


Preview of Events

A Texas Story

Gail Borden was an inventor in the 1800s. He researched safe and hygienic ways of storing food to prevent disease because he lost his wife and children from yellow fever. His vision was to create food that was portable and would not ferment. Borden’s first invention was dehydrated meat in the form of a biscuit, that could create broth when cooked. Since this was very famous among soldiers, he experimented more with refrigeration, and created condensed milk.

The Census

Every 10 years the United States is required by the Constitution to count its people, or conduct a census. The first U.S. census was in 1790, but Texas was included for the first time in 1850. The writers of the U.S. Constitution ordered  the census to determine how many members each state could send to the U.S. House of Representatives. States with large populations send more members than do states with small populations. The census also provides information concerning how texas and other states change. By comparing census data from various years, historians can note trends.

✔ Reading Check : Name two ways the census data is used.


In February 2011, the 23rd census was released to the public. Throughout the 10 years from the 22nd census, data and information was collected. The data showed that in some ways Texas was similar to the rest of the United States, and in some ways it was different. According to the census, the population of the United States was 311,800,000. Texas's population was 25,145,561, or about 8 percent of the U.S. population. In 1994 Texas passed New York to become the second most populous state. Only California has more people than Texas.

Texas grew by 3.8 million people in the 1990s. This was a 22 percent increase for the decade. The percentage increase in population is called the growth rate. A growth rate is positive if more people are born or move into the state than die or leave the state. Nevada had the highest growth rate in the nation, and Texas ranked eighth. The net increase in population meant that Texas gained two members in the U.S. House of Representatives. Because the number of representatives in the House is frozen at 435, this means that other states lost members.


The census asked people to identify themselves by race and ethnicity (national or cultural heritage). The chart compares the Texas population ethnicities the U.S. Texas allows people to identify as being of more than one heritage, meaning they were of multicultural heritage.


By dividing the population by the land area, you can determine how many people there are per square mile. In the U.S., there are about 81.3 people per square mile. In Texas, there are about 93.5 people per square mile.

Where do Texans Live?

Census 2010 showed that 5 counties-Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar, and Travis-have populations greater than 1 million. The combined populations of those counties account for 44 percent of the state population. The next 4 largest counties in population are El Paso, Collin, Hidalgo, and Denton. The combined population of the 8 most populous counties comprise 2 percent of the population of the state. Out of 254 counties of in Texas, more than half of the population lives in only 8 of them. From these figures, it is easy to see that the population is not evenly distributed. In fact, 51 Texas counties have fewer than 5,000 people. Only 2 of these 51 counties Kennedy and McCullen-are east of Interstate 35. The least populated county in Texas and in the entire United States, is Loving County. It has a population of 83 people.

Growth Rate

Population growth rate is one of the most important statistics learned from the census. City and county government, school district, the Texas Department of Transportation, health care providers, and business people all need to know which areas are growing and which are not.

The 2010 Census is showing that counties are growing rapidly. The growth has been show best in the counties Webb, Houston, and Smith. Dallas, near the northeastern part of the state, was one of the fastest growing counties of all the Texas counties in 1990. Montgomery, Fort bend, Gregg, Smith, Tarrant, and Harris also experienced rapid growth.

The U.S.-Mexican border areas also saw significant growth. The areas near the county Webb experienced increases in population primarily as a result of people moving there to take advantage of new business opportunities. Other counties of the state experienced either population declines or flat growth rates. Those counties were mainly in the Lower Plains, High Plains, and western Edwards Plateau.

Texas has been growing ata rapid rate and is expected to grow another 4 million in ten years (2020). In 2015 Texas had the highest estimated growth rate in the United States only behind North Dakota. This could cause big boosts to many economies. Also the most people coming to Texas are less than 18.

✔ Reading Check : Name two ways the census data is used.

How Old Are Texans?

The Texas population is younger than the overall U.S. population. On April 1, 2010 27.3 percent of Texans were under 18 years of age. The figure for the United States was 24 percent. It is important for business, education, and government planners to know the age distribution of the population because older and younger populations need different services. For example, areas with a younger population need more elementary schools, baseball and soccer fields, and pediatricians. An older population usually requires more retirement homes, bus services and medical facilities.

Knowing the age distribution in the workplace is important in planning for the future. If a large percentage of the workers are between the ages of 55 and 65, it is safe to predict that in the next 10 years companies will have to recruit new employees to take the place of people who retire.

Texas map percentage change from 2000 to 2010.

Looking Ahead

Both an increase in population and an increase in the diversity of Texas’s population seems likely in the future. By 2020 Texas is estimated to have 29,510,184 people  which makes the population 4 million more than in 2010. Population increases often follow strong economic conditions. Texas is large enough that economic downturns in one sector of the economy often can be offset by strength in other areas. Since there are ties to Mexico, many Texans speak spanish and are able to conduct business in latin america. Also with the many industries that Texas has Texas is able to trade and work with many other countries. With huge population increases also comes many housing needs. This could boost economies like the house market which could trigger many furniture pieces being bought. The census isn’t just a set of numbers that we have to look at. The census can change many things like the number of people Texas sends to the House of Representatives. The census also helps political scientists look for trends and what markets will start to boom.

Section 1 Assesment


#1: What do census and ethnicity mean? How are the meanings of the words important?                                                                                    Checking for Understanding


#2: From 2000 to 2010, what counties had the greatest population growth? (name 3)


#3: How did Gail Borden’s succes affect the population of Borden county?      Reviewing Themes


#4: Make a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting the services needed by a younger population and an elderly population.     Organizing to Learn


#5: What would happen to elementary schools, pediatricians, parks and sports fields if the younger population in an area decreased?           Critical Thinking