Lufkin’s population grew 7.2 percent in the last decade to 35,067 last year, according to 2010 Census numbers released Thursday.
The population of Angelina County grew 8.3 percent to 86,771 in 2010, according to the data. The city of Diboll saw its population drop by 12.7 percent, to 4,776 people, while Hudson grew by 24.8 percent to 4,731 people. Huntington grew by 50 people, or 2.4 percent, to a population of 2,118, while Zavalla’s population is up 10.2 percent, to 713, and Burke saw its number of residents more than double, to 737.
Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau conducts a nationwide population count by asking everyone who lives in America to mail in a completed questionnaire, and by following up with visits to the homes of people who did not return the form. Local officials in the past two years have tried to impress upon Angelina County residents the importance of returning the form, as the official population count affects the amount of funding and economic development opportunities the area receives.
Lufkin City Planner Dorothy Wilson on Thursday said the new numbers don’t automatically put the city at Metropolitan Statistical Area status — a goal for the city — but that they are positive, nonetheless.
“It’s not an MSA, but it’s a very positive growth,” she said. “The county’s number is a very substantial growth rate.”
Jerry Huffman, president of the Lufkin/Angelina County Chamber of Commerce, was not as pleased with the single-digit growth rate.
“At first blush, we’re certainly disappointed,” he said. “We had hoped that we would get a lot closer to being an MSA than we did. It’s nice that you have growth, and you can’t argue with that, but I just wish we had counted more, or had more, population.”
County Judge Wes Suiter also was “a little disappointed” when told of Angelina’s 8.3 percent increase over the past 10 years, but said the Complete Count Committee composed of local school, city and industry leaders did “everything in the world we could” last year to encourage people here to complete and return their Census forms. He commended Trent Ashby and Dorothy Wilson, the committee co-chairs, along with the others who served.
“I’m proud of what they did,” he said. “I’m proud of how we got out, got the word out and mixed with people. I think it’s pretty true numbers.”
Huffman, who also applauded the Complete Count Committee, said Lufkin serves as an industrial, medical and retail hub for surrounding counties, so its daytime population is much higher than its actual number of residents. That’s why, he said, “As a community, we tend to think we’re bigger than we are.” Overall, he said, “We’re glad to have a plus sign” on the county’s 10-year population growth rate.
Some 8,464 people in Lufkin labeled themselves as Hispanic/Latino on their 2010 Census forms. That’s 24.1 percent of the city’s population, up from 17.6 percent in 2000.
Ino Reyes, of the Lufkin-based La Lengua newspaper, said he was glad to see the increase but that he believes the number of Hispanics in the city is “wrong, still dead wrong.” He said everyday evidence — like the thousands of people who attend Angelina County’s four Hispanic clubs, or the 10,000 who show up for Lufkin’s Cinco de Mayo festival, or the tens of thousands in a seven-county area who read La Lengua each week — indicates that there are many more Hispanic/Latino residents of Lufkin.
Reyes said it’s clear that Hispanics who don’t trust the government — namely, those who are illegal or in the process of becoming legal citizens — simply will not fill out a Census form, even after they are assured it will not cause them to be deported. He and his brother Roy were part of the Complete Count Committee.
“We’ve done our best,” Reyes said. “It’s not for lack of trying.”
The population of Deep East Texas grew by 6.4 percent to 378,477 in 2010, according to the new census data. The populations of the 12 counties represented by the Deep East Texas Council of Governments were:
■ Angelina County — 86,771, up 8.3 percent from 2000
■ Houston County — 23,732, up 2.4 percent
■ Jasper County — 35,710, up 0.3 percent
■ Nacogdoches County — 64,524, up 9 percent
■ Newton County — 14,445, down 4.2 percent
■ Polk County — 45,413, up 10.4 percent
■ Sabine County — 10,834, up 3.5 percent
■ San Augustine County — 8,865, down 0.9 percent
■ San Jacinto County — 26,384, up 18.6 percent
■ Shelby County — 25,448, up 0.9 percent
■ Trinity County — 14,585, up 5.8 percent
■ Tyler County — 21,766, up 4.3 percent
The Texas numbers released Thursday by the Census Bureau include breakdowns on gender and race, and can be examined down to the county, city, school district, neighborhood and “block” level. The data is available at the Census Bureau’s FactFinder website (factfinder2.census.gov).
Texas’ most populous cities and their 2010 Census counts are Houston, 2,099,451; San Antonio, 1,327,407; Dallas, 1,197,816; Austin, 790,390; and Fort Worth, 741,206. Houston grew by 7.5 percent since the 2000 Census. San Antonio grew by 16.0 percent, Dallas grew by 0.8 percent, Austin grew by 20.4 percent and Fort Worth grew by 38.6 percent.
The largest county is Harris, with a population of 4,092,459. Its population grew by 20.3 percent since 2000. The other counties in the top five include Dallas, with a population of 2,368,139 (increase of 6.7 percent); Tarrant, 1,809,034 (increase of 25.1 percent); Bexar, 1,714,773 (increase of 23.1 percent); and Travis, 1,024,266 (increase of 26.1 percent).
Andy Adams' e-mail address is email@example.com.