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Economy Causing Texas Migration

February 16, 1988|From Reuters

HOUSTON — For the first time in at least two decades, people are leaving Texas faster than they are coming in, a Texas A&M University demographer said Monday.

According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, 90,000 more people migrated out of Texas than into it from July 1, 1986, to July 1, 1987, said Steve Murdock, who studies population trends for the university's real estate research center.

"This is the first time we've seen this trend since the 1960s," Murdock said. "We can't say definitively why people are leaving but indications are that it is a reflection of the overall state of the Texas economy."

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, when oil prices were high and the state's economy booming, Texas experienced net migration gains of as high as 400,000 people annually, Murdock said. The numbers have diminished throughout the 1980s as the oil industry has declined but never to the point of becoming losses until now, he explained.

Despite the migration loss, Texas still had a natural increase of 100,000 people last year through births.

It was once predicted that by 1990, Texas would overtake New York as the nation's second most populous state, Murdock said. Today, according to the Census Bureau estimates, Texas has 16.8 million people, compared to New York's 17.8 million.

"Now we would have to have a dramatic turnaround in the current trends to catch New York," Murdock said. California, with 27 million people, is by far the largest state.

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