The Rural Capital Area (RCA) is a nine-county region with a population of 1,077,595 in central Texas surrounding Austin, the state capital. The RCA has grown more rapidly than the U.S. for the past decade, growing 36% versus 8% for the US. The regional population growth rate reached its lowest level in 2012 at 2.3%, still over three times the U.S. rate of growth.
The RCA's population growth has historically been driven by migration of people from across the U.S.: in the last decade, 73% of new population was due to domestic migration. Migration has increased in recent years and outpaces births by more than 2-to-1: in 2019, 29,000 people moved to the Rural Capital Area from other parts of the U.S. and 12,100 births occurred.
Williamson County is the most populous county in the Rural Capital Area with 54% of residents, followed by Hays County (21%), Bastrop County (8%), Burnet County (5%), and Caldwell County (4%). Population has grown in all regional counties over the past decade but was highest in Hays County (47% growth from 2009-2019) and Williamson County (43% growth).
The Rural Capital Area population is spread fairly evenly across age groups and has seen significant growth in the past decade in the youth, retiree, and near-retiree populations. In 2016, 20% of the RCA's population were children under 15 years of age, 20% were youth aged 15 to 29, 21% were aged 30 to 44, and 19% were 45-59. Over the past decade, the 65-74 year-old cohort was the fastest growing in the region, increasing 90% while the children and youth populations grew about one-third as fast. The slowest relative regional growth was in those aged 0-4 (11% growth).