Without parsing too carefully the definition of “boomtown” (also the definition of “town”), most of us can agree that the label fits Austin—and (again, depending on how long said status is meant to last) has for a while. What might be news to list-watchers and residents, at least by one measure, is that the city is not all that high on the list.

Sure, being included in the Smart Asset’s 2021 “Top Boomtowns in America,” at whatever ranking, confirms that the area is experiencing a certain level of rapid growth—both economically and to its population. But, even considering the huge/hugely publicized influx of tech companies and certain car factories, Austin comes in at only 17 on the personal finance website’s list. That puts it just above places such as Indio, California, or even Denver, Colorado, but way below Murfreesboro, Tennessee (which happens to come in first in this report).

Smart Asset drew up its top 50 list with growth-related data gleaned from the 500 largest cities in the United States—including population change, unemployment rate, change in unemployment rate, Gross Domestic Product growth rate, business growth, housing growth, and change in household income—all over the past five years. 

According to the report, during that time Austin has had an 8.03 percent uptick in overall population, a 4.9 percent increase in GDP, a 16.4 percent change in the number of “establishments” (a Census Bureau term, measured by county), and a 12.8 percent change in housing growth, along with an unemployment rate of 3.7 percent. Using those metrics, Smart Asset crunched the numbers and came up with a score of 89.51 for Austin.

That puts the city in 17th place on the list, ahead of Round Rock (25th place), but behind other Texas cities, including Conroe (No. 3, tied with Meridian, Idaho) and New Braunfels, which tied with Concord, North Carolina, for 14th place.

Smart Asset's boomtown list for 2021 is full of surprises.Smart Asset

The top five boomtowns in the country, according to Smart Asset, are, in descending order: The aforementioned Murfreesboro; Nampa, Idaho; the also aforementioned Conroe, Texas, and Meridian, Idaho; and Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

Additional Texas boomtowns that made the Top 50 are Denton (No. 36) and McKinney (No. 39).