The Austin-San Antonio corridor is becoming a mega city.

Joel Kotkin:
If you drive south from Dallas, or west from Houston, a subtle shift takes place. The monotonous, flat prairie that dominates much of Texas gives way to a landscape that rises and ebbs.

The region around Highway 35 is called the Hill Country, and although it does not seem so curvy to a Californian, it is some of the very nicest land in the state of Texas, attracting a growing coterie of wealthy boomers seeking rural retreats. It also turns out to be a growth corridor that is expanding more rapidly than any other in the nation. The area is home to three of the 10 counties with more than 100,000 residents that have logged the fastest population growth in the country since 2010.

In fact, there is no regional economy that has more momentum than the one that straddles the 74 miles between San Antonio and Austin. Between these two fast-growing urban centers lie a series of rapidly expanding counties and several smaller cities, notably San Marcos, that are attracting residents and creating jobs at remarkable rates.

Anchoring one end of the region is Austin, which has been the all-around growth champion among America’s larger cities for the better part of a decade. Texas Monthly has dubbed it the “land of the perpetual boom.”

Austin has been ranked among the top two or three fastest-growing cities for jobs virtually every year since we began compiling our annual jobs rankings. Since 2000, employment in the Austin area has expanded 52.3%, 15 percentage points more than either Dallas-Ft. Worth or Houston.

Comparisons with the other big metro areas are almost pathetic. Austin’s job growth has been roughly three times that of New York, more than four times that of San Francisco, five times Los Angeles’ and 10 times that of Chicago. Simply put, Austin is putting the rest of the big metro areas in the shade.

Nor can Austin be dismissed as a place where low-skilled workers flee, as was said about other former fast-growing stars, notably Las Vegas. Just look at employment in STEM (science-, technology-, engineering- and math-related fields). Since 2001, Austin’s STEM workforce has expanded 35%, compared to 10% for the country as a whole, 26% in San Francisco, a mere 2% in New York and zero in Los Angeles. And contrary to perceptions, the vast majority of this growth has taken place outside the entertainment-oriented core, notes University of Texas professor Ryan Streeter, with nearly half outside the city limits.
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There is much more.

Kotkin also discusses the strong growth in San Antonio but finds the growth in the San Marcus area in between the two cities as the strongest area of growth in the US.  I have witnessed this growth in recent years making frequent trips to both Austin and San Antonio.  I found that the growth is not restricted to just the I-35 corridor, but stretches south of there to places like Bastrop.

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