The state of Texas saw the largest numeric growth in population of all states in the country between 2016 and 2017, the U.S. Census Bureau said recently in an update to its population estimates. The bureau estimates that the population of Texas grew just under 400,000 this year, bringing its total population to 28.3 million — the second highest of all states in the union.

What set 2017 apart from previous years for Texas was where this population increase came from. While in previous years, the majority of the growth came from migration to the state, the majority of growth this year came from childbirths and natural increases.

With growth trends shifting away from migration of workers from elsewhere and more to natural population growth, area economic developers discussed what steps can be taken to prepare the young children today for the jobs that will be available 20 years from now.

“Some things and needs will never change,” Workforce Solutions Texoma Executive Director Janie Bates said. “You still need to communicate, read and write, do basic math and be drug free.”

Bates said officials with Workforce Solutions and the Texas Workforce Commission regularly have to look at the market and note the changes in demand for various skills. As these skill needs shift, Workforce Solutions and its sister groups across the state and nation need to pick up the changes and promote the growth of these skill sets.

Despite the ever-changing nature of available jobs and the skills needed to acquire them, Bates said the base skills will always be the same. However, she noted computer literacy has now become one of the necessary skills needed for most career paths.

More career-center and specialized skills can be taught later on through high school and later education, she said.

Denison Development Alliance President Tony Kaai said these skills will continuously shift as automation and robotics replace some traditional roles. However, despite automation taking an increasingly active role in the workplace, he said this has increased the need for high-skilled positions in mechanics, and maintenance, among other fields.

This led area officials to create programs and a focus on training for these skill sets three years ago.

As a part of these efforts, Sherman Economic Development Corp. President John Plotnik said the organization helped fund a full-time position at Grayson College aimed at outreach for students starting at eighth grade. This position will help inform the students about the career paths that are available locally and what is needed to get into these fields.

The Census Bureau has not released local population estimates for Grayson County yet, and the most recent numbers are based on the local population as of July 1, 2016. The Census Bureau estimated that the population of Grayson County at that time was 128,235. This represents a 6.1 percent increase over the population recorded in the 2010 census.

In 2016, the net migration outpaced the natural population increase by just under 6,000 people. However, 2017 saw births outpace deaths by 209,690 while migrations increased the population by 189,580. This also marked a decrease in net migration to Texas compared to previous years.

Grayson County Clerk Wilma Bush said last week that there had been 1,533 births in Grayson County so far this year.

While Texas lead the country in total population growth, the census bureau found that Idaho was the fastest growing state by percentage of growth, with a 2.2 percent increase over the previous year. Texas placed seventh based on the percentage of growth with a 1.4 percent increase over 2016.

Those estimates are based on the population of each state from July 1, 2016 to July 1, 2017.