By Nicole Nielsen

(CBSDFW.COM) – According to new census data, over 1 million people have moved to Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton counties combined over the last decade.

“I would say DFW is a great opportunity hub to capture,” said Lauren Fischer, an associate professor of urban planning at the University of North Texas.

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Texas is the second most-populated state with over 29 million people, behind California. But Fischer says that with time, we might take the cake.

“Texas is growing at a rate like California never did… and that is setting a standard where Texas might surpass California in 20 to 30 years rather than 50,” Fischer said.

Our state population has grown about four million just this decade.

A lot of that growth has taken place in North Texas, holding two of the top five fastest growing cities in the state by population: Dallas and Fort Worth.

Tarrant and Collin counties are also both in the top five fastest growing counties in Texas, by population number.

Denton County is the seventh largest, and its population has grown over 35% over the past decade.

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“The census shows what we know which is people have found out that Denton County is a great place to live, work and play,” said county Judge Andy Eads.

Experts say it’s opportunities like land, jobs and, of course, cost of living that makes moving here so attractive.

Though the census shows just how much our state is growing, it doesn’t show where these folks are coming from.

Fischer says there’s some speculation.

“We do know that California and New York, at a state level… are losing population, and we are seeing some of those numbers turn up in Texas,” Fischer said.

Either way, she says if there’s more people headed our way, the state has a lot of preparing to do.

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“This data says to me, we have a real challenge ahead of us… Texas will have to think creatively about how we manage the growth we have right now, and how we continue to manage that growth,” she said.

Nicole Nielsen