The South Texas region’s population is growing faster than the state’s, spurred by growth in metropolitan areas. South Texas is 81 percent Hispanic, and is relatively young compared to the state as a whole. While the region’s educational attainment and personal income are below state averages, they have been increasing at an impressive rate in recent years.
The region’s demographic profile places considerable pressure on its educational resources but also provides significant opportunities for economic growth.
PHOTO: Brownsville Herald
From 2002 to 2007, the South Texas region’s population increased at 2.1 percent annually, slightly faster than the state’s 1.9 percent annual increase. Growth in the metropolitan areas of McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Laredo and Brownsville-Harlingen outpaced both the region and the state. McAllen led regional growth, increasing 3.3 percent annually. Corpus Christi trailed regional and state growth over the period, growing by just 0.6 percent annually.
South Texas’ population growth is projected to slow from 2007 to 2012, but still outpace the state as a whole, at 1.4 percent annually versus 1.2 percent for the state. Exhibit 20 shows actual and projected population change in the form of growth indices using 2002 as the base year, with an index equal to 100.
From 2002 to 2007, the South Texas region’s population increased at 2.1 percent annually.
South Texas Actual and Projected Population Increase, 2002-2012
Zapata – Micro City of the Future
…impressed the judges with its clear development strategy and success in attracting investors from outside the state. Zapata’s many development projects include a new border crossing into Mexico, major highway improvements and a strategy for growth and investment that includes logistics, air transport, alternative energy, eco-tourism and security.
Most of the South Texas population resides in metropolitan areas. Of the 28 counties in the South Texas region, six are in metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). The federal government defines MSAs as having a large population core accompanied by adjacent communities that have a high degree of economic and social interaction with that core.
The South Texas region is home to four MSAs – Brownsville-Harlingen (Cameron County); Corpus Christi (Aransas, Nueces and San Patricio counties); Laredo (Webb County); and McAllen-Mission-Edinburgh (Hidalgo County).1 Exhibit 21 illustrates the region’s metro counties and the county seats for each county in the region.
In 2007, metro counties accounted for 81 percent of the region’s population; in the state as a whole, 87 percent of Texas residents lived in metro areas. From 2002 to 2007, the South Texas MSA population increased by almost three times the rate of its non-MSAs. Over that period, the South Texas MSA population rose by 12.4 percent while non-MSA counties added 4.2 percent; the state population increased by 9.8 percent.2
South Texas Metro Counties
The South Texas population is relatively young. Under-25s accounted for 44 percent of the region’s population in 2007, compared to 38 percent for the state.
The South Texas population is relatively young. Compared to the state as a whole, a significantly higher proportion of the South Texas population is under the age of 25. Under-25s accounted for 44 percent of the region’s population in 2007, compared to 38 percent for the state (Exhibit 22).
A younger population implies a higher demand for educational services. The region’s opportunities for economic growth will depend in large part on the level of educational attainment this population achieves before entering the work force.
Texas and South Texas Population by Age, 2007
Texas and South Texas Population by Ethnicity, 2007
In 2007, 81 percent of the South Texas population was of Hispanic ethnicity (both white and non-white Hispanic), compared to 36 percent in the state overall. Laredo was 95 percent Hispanic; McAllen, 89 percent; and Brownsville, 86 percent. Non-Hispanic whites accounted for just 16.3 percent of the South Texas population in 2007 (Exhibit 23).
Location Quotients by Race: Comparing South Texas to Texas and Nation, 2007
By 2012, the Hispanic population is projected to rise to 82 percent in South Texas, versus 37.6 percent in the state as a whole.3
The concentration of Hispanics in the South Texas region is more than twice as high as the state’s and more than five times higher than the nation’s (Exhibit 24).
This pattern can be illustrated by a common measure in economic and demographic analysis, the “location quotient” (LQ). An LQ is a ratio that can be used to compare the concentration of a given group (by ethnicity or age, for instance) in a specific location with a state or national average. An LQ of more than 1.0 indicates that the demographic category is overrepresented in the region under study, compared to the state or national average; an LQ of less than 1.0 indicates that the demographic category is underrepresented.
Exhibit 25 examines the region’s 2007 population in five-year age increments, using LQ s to compare the region to national averages. The region has a concentration of Hispanic residents under the age of 25 that ranges between four and five times as high as the same age groups nationally. The concentration of Hispanics in South Texas, moreover, increases steadily after the age of 40. The lower LQ among the younger Hispanic age groups indicates that the Hispanic population in other parts of the country is also relatively young compared to other ethnicities.
Location Quotients by Age, Hispanic vs. Non-Hispanic, 2007
Twenty-one counties in the region saw their average personal income grow at a faster rate than the state.
In 2007, 39 percent of the region’s population over the age of 25 had less than a high school diploma, compared to 21 percent for the state and 14 percent for the U.S. Sixteen percent of the region’s over-25 residents had a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 25 percent for the state and 28 percent for the U.S. (Exhibit 26). Although there are high percentages of adults without high school diplomas, college attendance rates are growing much faster than in the rest of the state.4
The median income for all Texas households in 2005 (most recent data available to compare with county data) was $42,139.5 Of the 28 counties in the South Texas region, Nueces County, where Corpus Christi is located, had the highest median household income at $38,740. Starr County had the lowest, at $17,843. Webb County (which includes Laredo) and Cameron County (which includes Brownsville) had 2005 median household incomes of $31,339 and $25,916, respectively. Hidalgo County (with the cities of Edinburg, McAllen and Mission) and Maverick (with Eagle Pass) had 2005 median household incomes of $24,808 and $24,736, respectively (Exhibit 27).6
Educational Attainment for Population Over the Age of 25, 2007 South Texas, Texas and U.S. Averages
Median Household Income, State of Texas and Selected Counties, 2005
Thus median household incomes in the South Texas region are lower than the statewide average, but such measures do not take the cost of living into account. A cost-of-living adjustment can facilitate a more accurate comparison of income.
Based on the median income for Nueces County, a person earning $39,000 per year in Corpus Christi has the same buying power as someone earning $44,559 in Houston. Essentially, it costs 14 percent more to live in the Houston area than it does to live in Corpus Christi. A resident of the Austin area would have to earn 28 percent more, or $49,961 per year, to match the purchasing power of $39,000 in Corpus Christi. Living in Dallas would cost someone 24 percent more ($48,297) than in Corpus Christi.7
South Texas’ per capita personal income averaged nearly $20,300 in 2006, only 57.6 percent of the state average of $35,200. But income is growing faster in the region than in the state as a whole.
South Texas Per Capita Personal Income Percent Increase 2001-2006
The South Texas average rose from about $16,200 in 2001, a 25.6 percent increase. Over the same period, Texas per capita personal income rose by 21.1 percent.8 Twenty-one counties in the region saw their average personal income grow at a faster rate than the state (Exhibit 28).
Public Safety in the South Texas Region
Crime Rate, South Texas Region and Texas, 2005 and 2006
|Crime||South Texas Crime Rate 2005||Texas Crime Rate 2005||South Texas Crime Rate 2006||Texas Crime Rate 2006||South Texas Change in
|Texas Change in Crime Rate|
|Violent Crime Rate||470.6||529.5||444.2||516.9||-5.6%||-2.4%|
|Property Crime Rate||4,906.0||4,325.3||4,657.8||4,076.1||-5.1%||-5.8%|
|Total Crime Rate||5,376.7||4,854.8||5,102.1||4,593.1||-5.1%||-5.4%|
Note: All crime rate numbers are reported per 100,000 population.
Numbers may not total due to rounding.
Source: Texas Department of Public Safety.
- 1 U.S. Office of Management and Budget, OMB Bulletin No. 08-01: Update of Statistical Area Definitions and Guidance on Their Uses (Washington, D.C., November 20, 2007), pp. 23-39, http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/bulletins/fy2008/b08-01.pdf. (Last visited June 26, 2008.)
- 2 Data provided by EMSI.
- 3 Data provided by EMSI.
- 4 South Texas College, Statement of Wanda F. Garza, Executive Officer: Testimony before the Texas House Select Committee on Public and Higher Education, Public Hearing, McAllen, Texas, May 9, 2008.
- 5 U.S. Census Bureau, “Household Income–Distribution by Income Level and State: 2005,” http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/tables/08s0684.xls. (Last visited June 27, 2008.)
- 6 U.S. Census Bureau, “Small Area Income & Poverty Estimates–State and County Estimates,” http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/saipe/county.html. (Last visited June 27, 2008.) Custom query created.
- 7 Sperling’s Best Places, “Cost of Living Calculator,” http://www.bestplaces.net/col/. (Last visited June 27, 2008.)
- 8 U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, “State and Local Area Personal Income,” http://www.bea.gov/regional/reis/default.cfm?catable=CA1-3§ion=2. (Last visited May 20, 2008.)
- 9 Data provided by Texas Department of Public Safety.
- 10 Texas Comptroller calculation based on data obtained from Texas Workforce Commission.