Growth and Demographics
The Historic Round Rock Collection is a project documenting Round Rock's history, funded in part with a grant from the Texas Historical Commission. These pages are adapted from the original 1991 print version. Additional demographic information is available from the Planning Department and the Round Rock Chamber of Commerce.
The population of Round Rock in 1878 was 1,200. By 1890, that figure had grown to 1,438; however, the population declined between this period and 1900, when the population was only 1,138. The downward trend continued with the City's population reaching its all time low in 1920, only 900. By 1936, the population had climbed up to 1,173 and has continued to climb since then. The 1960 figure was 2,458 and crept up to 2,811 by 1970 (Scarbrough 346). Between 1970 and 1980, the exponential growth began. The 1980 population was 12,740, an increase of almost 400 percent. Rapid growth continued in the 1980s with the current (1990) population figure set at 30,923, an increase of almost 150 percent from the 1980 figure.
The decade of the 1970s marked the beginning of a surge in development in Round Rock. During the 1970s, Round Rock out-paced the growth of all cities of at least 1,000 persons in the Austin Metropolitan Area. Round Rock's compound annual growth rate of over sixteen percent resulted in a 353 percent increase in total population for the decade. Based upon Williamson County's 1970 to 1980 net migration rate, it is estimated that eighty-two percent of the 10,000 people added to the City were due to in-migration. The remainder was accounted for by natural change (births minus deaths). By 1980, Round Rock had established itself as the largest city in Williamson County and a viable growth center within the flourishing Austin Metropolitan Area.
The racial mixture of the City in 1970 showed a forty-five percent increase in the white population and a thirty-seven percent increase in the black population over 1960 figures. There was a small increase in individuals classified as American Indian from 1960 to 1980, while the category of Asian or Pacific Islander showed a somewhat larger gain during that span. Hispanics in 1980 composed 15 percent of the population.
The cost of real estate has steadily increased from 1970 to 1990. Rising land values inflated by unchecked land speculation constituted the prime reason for the increase. Land speculation, especially in the early to mid-1980s, not only included the buying and selling of raw land, but also the overestimation of housing demand by local developers. The willingness of banks and savings and loans to finance these developments contributed to the subsequent banking crisis and crash of the real estate market.
Round Rock's new citizens changed the makeup of the workforce of the City from predominantly blue collar to more managerial and service sector oriented. A comparison of workers by type of occupation revealed that employment levels for many professional sectors went up faster than the population. Four occupational categories, managerial, clerical, professional, and sales, increased two to three times faster than the 353 percent increase in total population and one and one-half to two and one-half times faster than the 479 percent overall increase in total employment
Occupation by Sex of Worker (1970 and 1980)
City of Round Rock, Texas
Source: Texas Employment Commission
A major factor contributing to this increase is that female employment grew fifty percent faster than male employment and almost twice as fast as the City's population. The largest proportional increase was for females in managerial occupations where the 1980 level was thirty times the 1970 total of seven persons. Two other occupational categories within the female work force, operators and clerical, also grew faster than the average female employment growth rate. Female professionals increased at roughly the same rate as total female employment. Those occupations which grew fastest among males were professional, managerial, sales, and clerical. This exactly corresponds with the high growth occupations for the entire work force.
During the 1980s, Round Rock continued to surpass the growth rates of all the cities in the Austin Metropolitan Area. Round Rock's eleven percent average annual growth rate between 1980 and 1988 was fifty percent higher than that of the next fastest growing cities in Williamson County, which is especially significant since Williamson County, at this time, was one of the fastest growing counties in the United States. Round Rock is on the verge of becoming the second largest city in the Austin Metropolitan Area. At about half the size of San Marcos in 1980, Round Rock's population has almost tripled since the last census. Over half of the City's 20,000 new residents located here during 1984 and 1985.
In order to attempt to direct the growth and development of the City, Round Rock is allowed to administer an extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) in all directions from its city limits (Community Data Book 15). The ETJ varies in size from a half mile in depth to five miles, the deciding factor for the ETJ zone size is the population size of the city. Round Rock is accorded a two-mile ETJ. Within this zone, the City can require that developments conform to their regulations concerning subdivision of land and commercial signages and can also annex territory situated in the ETJ. Round Rock in 1980 had a total area of 5,007 acres. By 1990, due to the City's aggressive annexation campaign, the total area was 12,520 acres, an increase of 250 percent ("Quality of Life").
Currently the City has nine departments: Administration, Municipal Court, Finance and Personnel, Police, Fire, Library, Parks and Recreation, Public Works, and Planning and Community Development (Community Data Book 15). Round Rock leads Williamson County in sales tax revenues due to the great surge in commercial and industrial activity in the City in the past decade. Growth has led to a diversification of the City's economy as demonstrated by the City's top ten employers: Dell Computer, Abbott Laboratories, Texas Instruments, State Farm Insurance, Radian, Apple Computers, IBM, Intermedics Orthopedics, Wayne Division - Dresser Ind., and Cypress Semiconductor (Chamber of Commerce 1996). Although the new Round Rock has more and more residents living and working in Round Rock, a large percent of the City's residents still commute to Northwest Austin (to IBM, 3-M, and other companies), and to downtown Austin, working in the downtown business district, the capitol, and the universities. However, housing has remained the City's mainstay. The expansion of the City's tax base has resulted in a series of public works projects and additional public amenities (the Second Phase expansion of the water plant, an additional waste water treatment plant, both coming on line in 1986, and the development of the 426 acre Old Settlers Park) (Community Data Book 13).
Kraemer, Richard H. and Charldean Newell. Essentials of Texas Politics (second edition). New York: West Publishing Company. 1983.
1990 General Plan for the City of Round Rock, Texas. City of Round Rock Department of Planning & Community Development. 1990.
Round Rock Texas Community Data Book (second edition). City of Round Rock Department of Planning & Community Development. 1986.
Round Rock the "Quality of Life" Capital of Texas. City of Round Rock Department of Planning & Community Development. 1990.