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The Central Texas region is more rural than Texas as a whole. In 2008, 23 percent of the region’s population lived in rural areas, compared with just 13 percent of all Texas residents.1 Due largely to the region’s rural makeup, Central Texas’ population is growing more slowly than that of the state.

From 2003 to 2008, Texas’ population grew at an annual rate of 1.9 percent, compared to Central Texas’ 1.1 percent rate. The region has a greater share of young people than the state or nation, however. And the region’s personal income rose by more than 36 percent from 2001 to 2006, outpacing statewide growth.

The 20 counties of the Central Texas region include three metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) – Bryan-College Station (Brazos, Burleson and Robertson counties), Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood (Bell, Coryell and Lampasas counties) and Waco (McLennan County). As defined by the federal government, an MSA contains a core urban area of 50,000 or more residents, accompanied by adjacent communities that have a high degree of economic and social interaction with that core (as measured by commuting to and from work).2 Exhibit 8 illustrates the region’s metro counties and the county seats for each county in the region.

Exhibit 8

Central Texas Metro Counties

See Text Alternative

Sources: Office of Management and Budget and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

View text for Central Texas Metro Counties.

The region’s personal income rose by more than 36 percent from 2001 to 2006, outpacing statewide growth.

Population Growth

Exhibit 9

Central Texas Actual and Projected Population, 2003-2013

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Source: Economic Modeling Specialists Inc.

View Actual and Projected Population Table

The Central Texas region’s population is expected to increase by 10 percent between 2003 and 2013, compared to nearly 17 percent for Texas (Exhibit 9). Population in the region’s metro counties will rise by 11.5 percent over the same period, led by Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood and Bryan-College Station. Waco MSA population growth is expected to lag the regional rate.3


The Central Texas region’s population is younger than that of the state and the nation. In 2008, 40 percent of the region’s residents were under the age of 25. The state and U.S. equivalent was 37.4 and 34 percent, respectively. Much of this young population is in the 20-24 age group, accounting for 10 percent of the region’s total population (Exhibit 10).

Exhibit 10

Central Texas Region, Texas and U.S. Population by Age, 2008

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Source: Economic Modeling Specialists Inc.

View Population by Age Table

Exhibit 11

Central Texas Region, Texas and U.S. Population by Ethnicity, 2008

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Source: Economic Modeling Specialists Inc.

View Population by Ethnicity Table


The region’s ethnic breakdown more closely resembles that of the U.S. than Texas (Exhibit 11). Hispanics represented 19 percent of Central Texas population in 2008, compared to 36 percent for the state; nationally, the Hispanic share was 15 percent.

Whites represent a clear majority in the region, with 61 percent of the population. Blacks make up 15 percent, a higher proportion than in the U.S. The remaining five percent fall in the “other” category, including persons of American Indian, Asian and Native Hawaiian descent and those claiming descent from two or more races.7

Educational Attainment

In 2008, 19 percent of all Central Texas region adults had less than a high school diploma. This percentage is higher than the U.S. average, but lower than that for Texas. The Central Texas region, however, had a lower share of residents with an associate, bachelor’s or graduate degree at 28 percent. The state and U.S. share was 31 and 34 percent, respectively (Exhibit 12).14

Exhibit 12

Educational Attainment for Population Over the Age of 25, 2008, Central Texas, Texas and U.S. Averages

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Source: Economic Modeling Specialists Inc.

View Educational Attainment Table


The median income for all Texas households in 2007 (most recent data available) was $47,563. In the Central Texas region, Bell County (which contains a large part of Fort Hood) had the highest median household income, at $47,434. Falls County had the lowest, at $30,265. The counties of the Bryan-College Station MSA (Brazos, Burleson and Robertson counties) had median incomes between $35,500 and $41,500. Brazos County, home to Bryan, had the lowest income of the region’s metropolitan areas, at nearly $38,039 (Exhibit 13).15

Exhibit 13

Median Household Income, Central Texas MSA Counties, 2007 (dollars)

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau.

View Median Household Income Table

Exhibit 14

Central Texas Per Capita Personal Income Percent Increase 2001-2006

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Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis.

View Personal Income Table

While the region’s median household incomes are lower than the statewide average, such measures do not take the cost-of-living into account. A cost-of-living adjustment can facilitate a more accurate comparison of income.

For instance, a person earning an annual salary of $35,000 in Waco would have the equivalent purchasing power of a person living in Dallas earning $44,132, or 26 percent more. The purchasing equivalent in Austin would be $45,652.16

Total personal income in Central Texas rose by 36.1 percent between 2001 and 2006 (most recent data available at the county level), compared with 32.8 percent for the state as a whole. Five counties in the region outpaced the state average during this period.

The region’s per capita personal income averaged nearly $28,800 in 2006, about 82 percent of the state average of $35,166. All counties in the Central Texas region trail the statewide average in per capita income. Many Central Texas counties, however, did outpace the state in per capita income growth between 2001-2006 (Exhibit 14).17

One-day communitywide job shadowing initiative in Waco.

PHOTO: Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce


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