Thursday, November 19, 2009

Montgomery Population Changes - Redistribution of Districts in 2010

Every ten years, the U.S. census is taken, and from that census, county districts are redrawn based on population. New numbers have arrived prior to the 2010 census;these are predictions of the census results based on data collected by the U.S Census Bureau and the state. As many people here know, Montgomery County is a hot spot for growth, ranking high  in job and population growth. The county has been exploding this decade  (2000-2008). CNN Money Magazine stated in 2007 that the jobs have grown 38.3% from 2000 to 2007, ranking Montgomery County at 16th in the nation. The county is predicted to grow in population by a whopping 82% in this decade! This is significant and is a driving factor for planning action in this county. The country is taking notice of this.

Our County Judge, Alan Sadler, has assessed the distribution of this growth and believes there will be only one precinct that will be expanded to balance population growth in 2010. That will be a  minor change. Precinct 3 should not be affected! Based on predictions released today, precinct 3 should remain status quo in area coverage in 2010. The reason for minimal change is that the population increases have been uniform throughout most of the county in this decade. The judge is getting a jump start on planning for next year when any redistribution must occur. He pointed out that our county growth in the 70's and 80's had significant impact on district boundaries but in 2000, there was not much change and in 2010, we can expect even less change. This is a booming county overall. No longer is it just a booming south county.

Newly available data is also exposing demographic change in our  county. Of special note, our Hispanic population has been far below that of Harris County. Now the Montgomery County population boom is notably drawing on an increased influx of Hispanics, probably in all economic sectors. The Anglo population percentage is noted to have grown about 51%, where the Hispanic community will have grown by 128% over the past decade!  As a comparison, the Harris County growth of Hispanics from 2000 to 2008 was  about a 19% increase.  Demographic statistics will show Anglos at 77% of the population and the Hispanics at 18% of the population in Montgomery County. Other ethnic/racial groups are a much lower percentage of the overall population. By comparison, Harris County will have roughly about 36% Anglo and 39% Hispanic (based on 2008 population estimates). Statewide, Hispanics make up some 36% of  the population, putting us below the average. All of these statistics are based on the assumption that the 2000 Census is fully correct and that the data from births and immigration in subsequent years represent the population changes.

So what does all of this mean? Let's just take it in its simplicity. First, Montgomery County is growing at a tremendous rate. That translates to schools, roads, home development, commercial development, jobs, and other infrastructure expansions required to sustain the growth if current residents are not to be crowded out. Fortunately we are seeing a rise in employment even in this downturn of the economy. The numbers also show us that Spanish as a first language is on the rise in our county. That has significant implications in study programs in our schools, labeling of products and signage in commercial areas. It is an important factor in considering the future of our county.

From everything I have seen, I doubt if we will know how many of the Hispanics are eligible to vote. Assuming everyone is legal, the number of Hispanic voters may be different  since Resident Visas do not give a person the right to vote. Voting influence of the community may not be as high as the commercial influence the Hispanics will have on  our economy.

Although the current economy has slowed home and commercial sales,  it has not stopped our growth. That growth also affects inflation by normal laws of supply and demand. The county remains a desirable place to live, work and play, and the commercial community is playing that up by attracting more and more businesses to the area. With all of that factored into the vision of the future, we can't help but feel there is no stopping this momentum. Our county judges are being challenged with this day after day. We will have more to say about this in coming days in the Commentary.

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