Imagine Austin Indicators

The indicators attributed to Imagine Austin have yielded complex and dynamic results. Over the last five years, out of 41 total indicators: 17 show improvement, 11 show little to no change, 12 show movement in the wrong direction, and one indicator lacks sufficient data to support conclusive results. The overarching themes emerging from the indicator results over the past five years show relatively positive or improving results for environmental health, community health, and economic vibrancy and relative worsening of conditions for affordability and mobility. However, within many indicators, we show consistent inequities along racial, ethnic, and socio-economic lines.

Top Trends

The following groupings of the indicators may not include all indicator results, but merely a selection for summarization purposes. Note that the "better" or "worse" classification used here is relative to the indicator's relationship with the goals and objectives of the Imagine Austin comprehensive plan and may not be considered "better" or "worse" in other contexts. Please view the complete analysis in the priority program stories for more information and context about the indicators.
Development Pattern
Austin has continued to sprawl over the past five years, increasing in total developed land area by nearly 30 square miles. Our annual rate of expansion has slowed slightly from 1.59% in 2012 to 1.27% in 2016.
We have successfully directed a majority of new growth into the Imagine Austin activity centers and corridors since 2012, but the percent of new development within those growth areas has declined from 2012 highs.

Wrong Direction
  • developed land area
  • percent of new residential units within the centers and corridors
  • percent of new non-residential growth within the centers and corridors

Mobility + Connectivity
Population growth and reliance on cars are at the heart of the mobility-related indicator results. Vehicle miles traveled per capita have slowly increased and transportation system delay has steadily risen year over year while alternative commuting transportation options (transit, biking, and walking) have experienced an overall decline.
The City of Austin continues to increase the percentage of street frontage in the city with sidewalks and makes consistent progress in expanding bicycle lanes. Citywide intersection density remains relatively low overall though slowly growing, but localized intersection densities show significant variation throughout the city.
We're Improving
  • percentage of street frontage with sidewalks
  • bicycle lane miles and percentage of streets

We Haven't Changed
  • intersection density

Wrong Direction
  • annual unlinked transit passenger trips
  • vehicle miles traveled per capita
  • percentage of trips by biking and walking
  • transportation system total annual delay

Given the overall strength of the Austin economy, unemployment and small business growth have tracked similarly well in recent years. Median family income is on the rise, yet we are uncertain the degree to which it has been caused by the affluence of incoming households and lower income households leaving the region. Austin's recent economic success does not yet mean prosperity for all, and stubborn geographic and racial inequities persist in income inequality.
We have seen a considerable increase in investment in the arts from the City of Austin, though this is not necessarily representative of the overall health of the vast creative economy in our city.
We're Improving
  • unemployment rate
  • small business growth
  • median family income
  • City of Austin investment in the arts

Despite an increase in median family income, rising housing values and rents continue to outpace wages. Even so, Austin persists as an economically segregated city and an increase in median family income does not mean increased prosperity for all Austinites. 
Though the vacancy rate has remained stable, consistent growth in our housing supply has been met with considerable demand. Roughly one third of all Austin households are cost-burdened and continue to be made disproportionately up of low-income renter households. 
We're Improving
  • median family income

We Haven't Changed
  • cost-burdened homes
  • homeless count
  • residential vacancy rate
Wrong Direction
  • median housing values
  • median gross rent
  • affordable units funded

Environment + Sustainability
Indicators of environmental health and quality show mostly positive results including improved stream water quality in Austin's watersheds, increased access to parks, consistent declines in water consumption per capita, and reductions in the number of structures within our 100-year floodplain.
And although we have seen steady growth in the amount of strategically preserved land in environmentally sensitive areas, we have continued to increase developed land over one of our most critical and sensitive environmental resources - the Edwards Aquifer.
We're Improving
  • environmental integrity index scores
  • permanently preserved land
  • development within 100-year floodplain
  • residents living within walking distance to parks
  • water consumption per capita

Wrong Direction
  • development within Edwards Aquifer Zones

Health + Safety
Our health indicators show some successes such as an overall increase in the percentage of residents with health care coverage and Austin/Travis County has trended better than the state and the nation on key health outcomes. However, we continue to see disparities along racial, ethnic, and socio economic lines within these same health outcomes.
Our safety indicators show a significant decline in our property crime rate despite our population growth over the past five years, but little change in the rate of violent crime.
We're Improving
  • percent of residents with health care coverage
  • property crime rate 
We Haven't Changed
  • violent crime rate

Wrong Direction
  • prevalence of obesity

Full List of Indicators

Click on an indicator below to explore the complete results.