Data: Thousands Fled Harris County During COVID

Smartphone data shows Harris County lost 10,000 residents during the COVID lockdowns, resulting in a net loss of $750 million in net income. About 1-in-3 moved to a neighboring county.

Harris County's loss is Liberty and Austin County's gain, according to Thomas Walle, founder and CEO of Unacast, a location information company that tracks mobility through cell data.

Unacast found Waller County also lost residents, but still came out ahead.

“Waller has gained about $110 million in increased income,” says Walle. “So a lot of wealthy people from Harris decided to move to Waller.”

“That change in income that those people have is changing the local communities,” he says. “That's something that you'll see retailers and real estate companies try to take advantage of and try to do the best in the coming months and years.”

Houston Texas - Insights Jan 2021

Walle says the pandemic led some to move closer to family or further outside urban centers. Working from home also forced some to move for more space or because they didn't need to live close to the office anymore.

Pew Research Center found more Americans say they moved due to financial pressures.

The same thing is playing out between states. The Northeast and West Coast continue to lose residents and business to Texas and other southern states.

“You have all this macro level reasons why,” he says. “If you have tax breaks. If you have a lot of tech startups that left San Francisco and they're moving to other parts of the country.”

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