With a population increase of 5.09 percent, Hays County was the third-fastest-growing county in the U.S. in 2016, according to population figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday. Last year, it was the fifth-fastest-growing county in the nation.
San Juan County, Utah, and Kendall County, Texas, ranked ahead of Hays County in terms of percentage growth. Hays County was the fastest-growing county with a population of at least 100,000.
According to this year’s data, Hays County’s population increased from 194,574 to 204,470 between 2015 and 2016.
“There are obvious challenges that come as part of that [growth]to our infrastructure and in regards to maintaining our uniqueness and quality of life, but we are doing our best collectively as a community—whether through the public jurisdictions like the county and municipalities or political subdivisions or nonprofits and the business community—to walk that fine line,” Hays County Commissioner Will Conley said.
Conley said the two bond propositions approved by voters in November will help the county stay ahead of the growth. The pace of growth has affected every area of the county, he said, and while planning projects to help accommodate growth is important, funding for the projects is often the linchpin.
“There are 20 projects I would like to build right now, but we don’t have the funding to do it,” Conley said. “It’s that balance. There are 20 other things we need to be planning on.”
The Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area, which spans from Georgetown to San Marcos, was the ninth-fastest-growing MSA in the nation. The Austin-Round Rock MSA grew from 1,998,104 residents in 2015 to 2,056,405 in 2016.
Between 2010 and 2016, the county’s population increased 29.2 percent.
Seton Medical Center Hays opened in Kyle in late 2009, and the hospital’s labor and delivery unit may account for the jump in births between 2010 and 2011. When the unit opened in 2009 it was delivering about 30-35 babies per month. In 2016, the unit expected to average about 100 deliveries per month, a hospital representative said.
Domestic migration accounted for the vast majority of migration into Hays County.
Census data on cities and towns, as well as national, state and county population estimates by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin are expected later this year, a news release from the U.S. Census Bureau stated.