Demographer to report to Chamber
“Most of a demographer’s work is about solving human problems,” Lloyd Potter, Texas State Demographer
More than a decade has passed since former Texas Gov. Rick Perry named UTSA demography professor Lloyd Potter the state demographer, an action that also made the university home to the Texas Demographic Center.
Potter was already director of UTSA’s Institute for Demographic and Socioeconomic Research, whose duties included understanding and communicating demographic processes in Texas, training doctoral-level applied demographers in public policy and health, and conducting demographic research on public policy and health-related topics.
He also had a background in health issues, having previously served as director of both the National Suicide Prevention Resource Center and Children’s Safety Network as well as managing youth violence and suicide prevention efforts for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Over the years, Potter has provided officials with population estimates and projections to inform policy while continuing his research on health- and equity-related demographic trends in Texas. These have included identifying accurate statistics regarding educational attainment, obesity and diabetes rates, health care access, water access and affordability, housing rates, property values, household income, transportation demands and energy consumption.
He has also researched how the racial makeup of the state has changed. U.S. Census reports estimate that Hispanics will be the majority race/ethnic population in Texas for the first time in the next year or so. Potter has tracked how migration from other states (with California, New York, Illinois and Louisiana being “the biggest senders”) and internationally has played a role in the increase, in addition to the white population experiencing more deaths than the Hispanic population, due to age.
With this in mind Potter has relayed to various state and city leaders the importance of making education attainable for the state’s Hispanic population. These residents have historically attained lower levels of education and it has stifled their opportunities for gainful and higher-paying employment. “Are we going to have a labor force in Texas that’s going to allow our economy to grow and create high-skilled, high-paying jobs? Or are we going to be one that shifts more toward lower-skilled, lower-paying jobs? That has tremendous implications for Texas economically,” he explained.
Because the population is getting younger and more diverse—and because the population gap between the state’s urban/suburban and rural areas continues to widen—Texas is considered a predictor for national demographic trends. Other states are eager to see how Texas meets the housing, health care and social service demands of a swelling, changing population. With 36 delegates in the U.S. House of Representatives and 38 electoral votes, the nation’s political pundits are also highly interested in how that shifting population might vote.
To learn more see the UTSA story at https://www.utsa.edu/today/2020/06/story/potter-lloyd-marks-decade-state-demographer.html