Texas stands out as a state marked by a thriving population, economy, and culture. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, it boasts approximately 29.4 million residents, securing its position as the second most populous state in the nation. Impressively, Texas has experienced a growth rate of 15.9% from 2010 to 2020, ranking it as the third fastest-growing state in the country. The Lone Star State is home to numerous attractions, including the Alamo, the Space Center, and the Big Bend National Park. However, despite these successes, some cities within Texas face challenges such as population decline, economic stagnation, and social issues.
The Fastest Shrinking City in Texas: San Elizario
San Elizario, a small city in El Paso County, West Texas, with a population of about 9,130 people and a poverty rate of 32.8%, holds the undesirable title of the fastest shrinking city in Texas, as reported by WalletHub. This financial advising website ranked the 150 most populated metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the U.S. based on population and socio-economic growth factors.
San Elizario’s decline is starkly evident in its rankings:
- The city experienced the lowest population growth, with a decline of 36.1% from 2010 to 2019.
- It ranked worst for natural growth, with a decrease of 3.7% from 2014 to 2019.
- San Elizario placed 149th out of 150 for having the lowest net migration, experiencing a net outflow of 32.4% from 2014 to 2019.
- It also ranked 148th out of 150 for socio-economic growth, with negative changes in various indicators from 2014 to 2019, including unemployment rate, poverty rate, income growth, regional GDP growth, and housing price growth.
Factors Behind San Elizario’s Decline
Low Birth Rate and High Death Rate
The city’s status as the fastest shrinking is attributed to a combination of factors, including a low birth rate of 11.6 per 1,000 people and a high death rate of 15.3 per 1,000 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. These rates are less favorable compared to the state averages of 13.1 and 7.1, respectively.
Outbound migration is a significant contributor to San Elizario’s decline, with a domestic migration rate of -32.4 per 1,000 people and an international migration rate of -0.1 per 1,000 people, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau. These rates are notably lower and higher than the state averages of 2.6 and 3.5.
Lack of Opportunity
A lack of opportunity is reflected in the city’s low socio-economic growth, with negative changes in unemployment rate, poverty rate, income growth, regional GDP growth, and housing price growth, all lower than national averages. San Elizario faces challenges in terms of industry structure, education level, and infrastructure.
While Texas as a whole enjoys remarkable growth, San Elizario stands as a stark exception. The city’s decline, marked by low birth rates, outbound migration, and limited economic opportunities, paints a challenging picture for its future. San Elizario’s struggle not only positions it as the fastest-shrinking city in Texas but also highlights broader issues faced by certain communities in the nation.