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Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Texas Community Colleges:Gulf Coast Region

Public community colleges serve a vital role in our state’s economy by training our workforce and preparing students for further academic study. Created specifically to expand access to higher education, they’re also notable for filling the specific educational and vocational needs of their service areas.

Regional Overview

The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts divides the state into 12 economic regions. The Gulf Coast economic region — 13 counties covering about 13,900 square miles in eastern coastal Texas — has nine community college districts: Alvin Community College, Brazosport College, College of the Mainland, Galveston College, Houston Community College System, Lee College, Lone Star College System, San Jacinto College and Wharton County Junior College.

The region is the home to almost 7.2 million people, about a fourth of the state’s population, with a higher share of bachelor’s and graduate degree holders than the state as a whole.

Regional Economic Impact

In 2020, the Comptroller’s office requested financial data from Texas’ 50 community college districts and conducted statewide and regional studies of their economic impact. Our analysis predated the COVID-19 crisis and the economic impacts that followed. The Gulf Coast region’s nine districts reported revenues of more than $1.5 billion in fiscal 2018, which produced an additional $1.2 billion in indirect and induced economic activity for a total impact of more than $2.7 billion annually. More than 20,000 jobs are supported by the region’s community college spending. Under normal economic conditions, every dollar spent by community colleges produces an additional 82 cents of economic activity, while every dollar spent on compensation produces an additional 33 cents of total income to the state economy (Exhibit 1).

Exhibit 1 Estimated Economic Impact of the Gulf Coast Region’s Community Colleges, 2019

Estimated Economic Impact of the Gulf Coast Region’s Community Colleges, 2019
Indicator Direct Indirect Induced Total Total Multiplier
Employment 14,862 1,910 3,306 20,077 1.35
Output $1.5 billion $543 million $669 million $2.7 billion 1.82
Compensation $1.0 billion $132 million $204 million $1.3 billion 1.33

Note: Output refers to the intermediate and final economic values of goods and services. Induced impact refers to the jobs, sales/output, and compensation created when new employees spend their wages at local establishments. Figures may not sum due to rounding.

Sources: JobsEQ, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and Texas community colleges


Our model represents a conservative estimate. Other studies, including one conducted by this agency in 2008 and another by Emsi in 2015, have applied a broader view of the economic ripple effects of a community college education in Texas and found considerably greater impact.

Employment and Wages

In general, the restaurant industry, the health care professions and other personal care and service workers have seen the highest growth in the last five years. Due to the Gulf Coast region’s heavy concentration of oil and gas and petrochemical workers, the recent downturn in those industries reduced employment in the extraction sector by almost 6 percent annually in that period. But food preparation added more than 25,000 jobs, while health care and social assistance industries in the region added more than 18,000 jobs, for a 5.3 percent annual growth rate.

The region’s most significant occupations are shown in Exhibit 2 and Exhibit 3, first by location quotient (which measures an industry’s proportionate concentration in a region versus its concentration in U.S. as a whole) and secondly by numeric growth during the last five years.

Exhibit 2 Top Occupations in the Gulf Coast Region by Location Quotient, 2014-2019

Top Occupations in the Gulf Coast Region by Location Quotient, 2014-2019
Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Wages LQ Number Unemployed Unemployment Rate Five-Year Employment Change
Extraction Workers 23,444 $47,600 4.87 1,293 5.6% -8,225
Water Transportation Workers 4,775 $72,300 2.66 220 4.8% -138
Plant and System Operators 14,077 $64,700 2.13 135 1.0% -1,495
Supervisors of Construction and Extraction Workers 25,116 $76,100 1.79 866 3.4% 1,460
Air Transportation Workers 9,711 $111,100 1.65 61 0.6% -127

Note: Figures may not sum due to rounding. Data are as of Q3 2019 except wage data, which are for covered employment in 2018.

Source: JobsEQ


Exhibit 3 Top Occupations in the Gulf Coast Region by Numeric Growth, 2014-2019

Top Occupations in the Gulf Coast Region by Numeric Growth, 2014-2019
Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Wages LQ Number Unemployed Unemployment Rate Five-Year Employment Change
Food and Beverage Serving Workers 172,191 $23,100 1.05 11,720 6.4% 25,174
Other Personal Care and Service Workers 79,010 $22,900 0.85 4,144 5.0% 18,124
Construction Trades Workers 160,545 $42,400 1.34 10,731 6.3% 16,057
Health Diagnosing and Treating Practitioners 102,161 $104,300 0.85 1,028 1.0% 13,840
Business Operations Specialists 96,304 $82,700 0.85 2,955 2.9% 12,390

Note: Figures may not sum due to rounding. Data are as of Q3 2019 except wage data, which are for covered employment in 2018.

Source: JobsEQ


Wages by Educational Attainment

Community colleges deliver a particularly good return on investments of time and tuition. In the Gulf Coast region, workers with some college or associate degrees and with stable jobs — defined as those with the same firm throughout a calendar quarter — earn an average of $6,408 more annually than high school graduates (Exhibit 4).

Exhibit 4 Average Annual Earnings by Educational Attainment, Gulf Coast Region and Texas, 2018

Average Annual Earnings by Educational Attainment, Gulf Coast Region and Texas, 2018
Educational Attainment Number Employed, Region Average Annual Earnings, Region Number Employed, Texas Average Annual Earnings, Texas
Less than high school 516,634 $43,491 2,065,483 $42,808
High school or equivalent, no college 661,979 $51,093 2,765,759 $52,035
Some college or associate degree 796,592 $57,501 3,245,675 $60,428
Bachelor's degree or advanced degree 648,501 $81,421 2,454,975 $95,716
Educational attainment not available 347,982 $22,443 1,544,282 $22,087
Total 2,971,687 $54,377 12,076,174 $58,787

Source: U.S. Census Bureau and JobsEQ


The increase in wages alone for those workers adds an additional $5.1 billion in direct compensation to the state economy each year (Exhibit 5) – more than three times the total spending of the region’s community colleges.

Exhibit 5

Total Annual Regional Earnings Increase, Some College or Associate Degree versus High School or Equivalent, 2018

Employed, Some College or Associate Degree:

796,592

Average Earnings Increase Beyond High School or Equivalent:

$6,408

Total Regional Earnings Increase:

$5.1 billion

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, JobsEQ and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

The wage effect is particularly noteworthy given an average annual tuition for the region’s community colleges of just $2,227 per year and the modest two-year educational commitment required for an associate degree.1 The region’s highest-paying jobs for associate-degree holders are in mining, construction, education and health care.2

More Degrees Needed

While the region’s new graduates and certificate holders enter the workforce in large numbers, demand for some degrees still outpaces supply. Broadly speaking, these gaps occur largely in education and business administration and management, followed by nursing and health care administration.

Gulf Coast community colleges awarded more than 12,000 general studies and liberal arts certificates and associate degrees in the 2017-18 academic year, followed by health care and business administration (Exhibit 6).

Exhibit 6 Top 10 Certificates and Degree Awards in Gulf Coast Region Community Colleges, Academic Year 2017-18

Top 10 Certificates and Degree Awards in Gulf Coast Region Community Colleges, Academic Year 2017-18
Certificates and Degrees Number Awarded
Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities 12,574
Health Professions and Related Clinical Sciences 7,797
Business, Management, Marketing and Related Support Services 3,974
Personal and Culinary Services 2,599
Skilled Precision Production of Leather Metal or Wood Products 2,246
Mechanic and Repair Technologies/Technicians 2,220
Engineering Technologies/Technicians 2,185
Science Technologies/Technicians 1,385
Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services 777
Security and Protective Services 739

Source: JobsEQ


Gulf Coast Community College Overview

The Gulf Coast region’s nine community college districts provided technical and academic coursework for more than 196,000 students in the 2017-18 school year (Exhibit 7). In addition to community colleges, the region is home to 10 universities, the Baylor College of Medicine and three University of Texas medical branches.

Exhibit 7Gulf Coast Region Community Colleges Overview, Academic Year 2017-18

Gulf Coast Region Community Colleges Overview, Academic Year 2017-18
Community College District Enrollment Awards Average Tuition and Fees Academic Share of Students Enrolled Technical Share of Students Enrolled Enrolled or Employed, Academic* Enrolled or Employed, Technical*
Alvin Community College 5,645 1,288 $1,998 76.9% 23.1% 95.7% 94.5%
Brazosport College 4,304 1,269 $2,715 62.4% 37.6% 96.1% 91.9%
College of the Mainland Community College 4,673 773 $1,773 65.5%  34.5% 90.0% 88.3%
Galveston College 2,423 625 $2,050 68.9% 31.1% 91.4% 96.0%
Houston Community College 48,309 7,056 $2,031 77.9% 22.1% 90.1% 88.6%
Lee College 7,773 3,026 $2,358 60.4% 39.7% 90.7% 83.9%
Lone Star College System 78,244 9,897 $2,150 87.7% 12.3% 90.8% 86.4%
Lone Star College—CyFair 20,536 2,295 $2,150 89.8% 10.2% 91.3% 88.5%
Lone Star College—Kingwood 11,358 1,271 $2,150 86.6% 13.4% 90.0% 82.1%
Lone Star College—Montgomery 13,088 1,568 $2,150 88.4% 11.6% 91.6% 88.0%
Lone Star College—North Harris 13,980 1,991 $2,150 79.2% 20.8% 91.1% 85.9%
Lone Star College—Tomball 7,639 664 $2,150 84.9% 15.1% 88.3% 90.7%
Lone Star College—University Park 11,643 819 $2,150 92.9% 7.1% 91.1% 83.8%
San Jacinto College 37,895 7,332 $1,860 72.4% 27.6% 91.7% 81.4%
San Jacinto College — Central Campus 15,302 3,372 $1,860 69.2% 30.8% 90.7% 88.3%
San Jacinto College — North Campus 10,043 1,927 $1,860 64.9% 35.1% 94.0% 90.4%
San Jacinto College — South Campus 12,550 2,193 $1,860 82.6% 17.4% 91.5% 90.8%
Wharton County Junior College 6,768 1,081 $3,110 81.1% 18.9% 92.2% 92.6%

*The percentage of academic or technical graduates employed in the fourth quarter of the calendar year after graduation and/or enrolled in a Texas two- or four-year institution in the following fall after graduation, as specified.

Source: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board


Alvin Community College

  • Alvin Community College’s (ACC’s) industrial training program helps meet the needs of the growing industrial workforce with training programs in areas such as machining, commercial truck driver licenses, industrial design and welding.3
  • ACC was the first Texas college to offer an associate of applied science degree in polysomnography technology, which prepares students to enter the growing field of sleep medicine.4
  • The nursing program at ACC helps students enter that in-demand career path and has a 93 percent job placement/transfer rate.5

Brazosport College

  • Brazosport College offers 10 programs that are performing well in the region’s labor market, including those related to chemical manufacturing, construction, general merchandise stores, local government, repair and maintenance specialty trade contractors and ambulatory health care services.
  • Brazosport’s new Jumpstart program provides nine weeks of free training to begin a career in high-demand fields including pipefitting, electrical trades and office administration.6
  • As part of a longstanding partnership, BASF Corporation donated $1 million to the Brazosport College Foundation for use toward the development of a high-technology workforce.7

College of the Mainland Community College

  • College of the Mainland (COM) has an agreement with Sam Houston State University that provides students with joint admission to both schools. It also offers a time-compressed degree framework that allows students to obtain a high school diploma, associate degree, baccalaureate degree and master’s degree in seven years.8
  • COM’s Veterans Center assists veteran students and dependents with available benefits, eligibility and academic progress. COM has been listed as one of the nation’s top military-friendly schools.9
  • COM’s top-rated pharmacy technician program lets students participate in hands-on labs, classes and internships to earn a certificate in pharmacy technology or an Associate of Applied Science in pharmacy technology.10

Galveston College

  • Galveston College’s Universal Access Scholarship, established in 2001, provides fully paid tuition for local public and private high school graduates who wish to attend. The program has supported more than 1,700 students since its inception.
  • The college’s Quickstart programs are designed to help individuals find entry-level jobs in the fast-growing electrical technology and heating, air conditioning and ventilation industries through a tuition-free, eight-week program of job training, career counseling and job placement assistance.
  • Galveston College’s Accelerate TEXAS program, designed for adults who have not completed high school, helps them prepare for the High School Equivalency Exam while earning a certificate in a career trade.
  • Galveston Career Connect strengthens the career skills of Galveston high school students by combining academic and work-based learning experiences and allowing students to earn college hours and an industry-recognized certificate that can help them find immediate employment upon graduation.

Houston Community College

  • In collaboration with MACE Virtual Labs, Houston Community College (HCC) has opened a virtual reality lab to provide customized, cost-effective training for area workers such as firefighters, electrical power line installers and repairers, aircraft pilots and flight engineers and construction equipment operators.11
  • The HCC Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence is a top supplier of skilled manufacturing workers and collaborates closely with local industries to ensure its skills training meets their needs.12
  • HCC partners with Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts to promote a range of joint educational opportunities including an annual Fashion Fusion collaborative competition that focuses on students’ passion for the arts.13

Lee College

  • Lee College’s Center for Workforce and Community Development works closely with local businesses to provide needs assessments and custom-tailored training packages.14
  • With funding provided by the Texas Mutual Insurance Company, the college’s Risk Management Institute offers free seminars, workshops and training classes on health and safety for employers, employees, seniors and the general public.15
  • Lee College prepares students for high-demand jobs in the local petrochemical industry through its industrial craft training courses.16

Lone Star College System

  • Lone Star College (LSC) has the largest number of online students in Texas and offers more than 20 fully online programs, providing students flexible options to help them achieve their goals in areas including business and professional services, computer and digital technology and teaching.17
  • In response to local workforce needs, LSC plans to begin offering bachelor’s degrees in nursing, cybersecurity and energy, manufacturing and trades management.18
  • Lone Star College lifePATH® is a unique, four-year program that helps adult students with disabilities learn the social and skills expectations needed in business, academics and personal relationships while earning certificates in Occupational Studies, completing ACT WorkKeys Assessments and receiving the ACT National Career Readiness Certification.19

San Jacinto College

  • In fiscal 2017, San Jacinto College’s impact on the local business community amounted to $1.3 billion in added income, or about 2.4 percent of the gross regional product of East Harris County, as well as support for 13,044 jobs.
  • The average associate degree graduate from San Jacinto College will see an increase in earnings of $11,800 annually compared to a high school graduate or equivalent in Texas.
  • San Jacinto’s EDGE Center at Ellington Field, established in partnership with Houston Airport System, trains technicians with specialized skills for commercial space operations.
  • San Jacinto College is acting as lead on a $12 million U.S. Department of Labor apprenticeship grant, “Texas Is IT,” to develop workers with skills in information technology.
  • To address an anticipated worker shortage, San Jacinto College Maritime Center trains working mariners to maintain credentials and helps aspiring mariners pursue a degree in maritime transportation.
  • In partnership with Aggreko Corporation, San Jacinto College manages a diesel technician program to train technicians who can begin working immediately for the company. 

Wharton County Junior College

  • Wharton County Junior College’s (WCJC’s) Automotive Technology program provides students with high-tech training and instruction in the classroom and the lab to meet the growing need for mechanics and technicians.20
  • The college’s newly renovated Johnson Health Occupations Center, opened in 2019, offers top-notch training needed for successful employment in the health care field.21
  • WCJC supports Wharton ISD’s Realizing Our Academic Reward Academy (ROAR), which allows high school students to earn up to 60 college credit hours during high school.22
  • To meet the growing need for secretaries and administrative assistants, WCJC’s Business Office Technology program trains students in skills such as accounting and computer and business writing. Its job placement rate for graduates is higher than 90 percent.23

Conclusion

Community colleges play a vital role for students and businesses by offering postsecondary education and job training at great value. As the Gulf Coast region’s nine community college districts work to address local skills gaps and meet the specific needs of area employers, they support more than 20,000 jobs and add about $2.7 billion in economic output annually. Furthermore, the higher pay of those with some college or an associate degree helps raise total wages in the region by $5.1 billion per year.


End Notes

Links are correct at the time of publication. The Comptroller's office is not responsible for external websites.

  1. Calculated from data in Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, THECB Texas Public Higher Education 2019 Almanac, Spring 2019.
  2. Based on data provided by JobsEQ.
  3. Alvin Community College, “Industrial Training.”
  4. Alvin Community College, “Polysomnography (Sleep Medicine) - A.A.S. Degree.”
  5. Alvin Community College,  “Nursing (ADN)/Nursing Transition (LVN to ADN) - A.A.S. Degree.”
  6. Brazosport College, “Jumpstart Program Registering for Pipefitter, Electrician Training,” by Billy Loveless, January 6, 2020.
  7. Brazosport College, “BASF Awards $1 million to BC Foundation for High-Tech Workforce Training,” by Billy Loveless, September 13, 2019.
  8. College of the Mainland, “College of the Mainland and Sam Houston State University Sign Unique Joint Agreement to Share Students,” September 24, 2019.
  9. College of the Mainland, “COM Named a Military Friendly School,” January 31, 2019.
  10. College of the Mainland, “COM Pharmacy Tech Program No. 1 in Texas,” August 31, 2018.
  11. Houston Community College, “HCC in Rare Air with Opening of New Virtual Reality Lab,” December 12, 2019.
  12. Houston Community College, “Industry/Government Coalition Pledges Support for HCC Advanced Manufacturing Program, “ June 11, 2019.
  13. Houston Community College, “HCC and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Sign MOU in Advance of Fashion Fusion Event,” April 23, 2019.
  14. Lee College, “Corporate Services.”
  15. Lee College, “Risk Management Courses Announced,” On Point (November 11, 2019).
  16. Lee College, “Industrial Open Enrollment.”
  17. Lone Star College, “Lone Star College Ranks #1 for Online Student Enrollment in Texas,” December 17.
  18. Lone Star College, “Lone Star College to Offer Bachelor’s Degrees,” December 10, 2019. 
  19. Lone Star College, “lifePATH®: A Four-Year Pathway.”
  20. Wharton County Junior College, “STATE OF THE ART INSTRUCTION - WCJC Automotive Technology Program Stresses Hands-on, Technical Learning,” December 10, 2019.
  21. Wharton County Junior College, AN ENHANCED ABILITY TO LEARN - Renovated Johnson Health Occupations Center boosts student learning.
  22. Wharton County Junior College, “A GREAT PROGRAM - WCJC and WISD Offer ROAR Program to Help High School Students Earn College Credit,” May 28, 2019.
  23. Wharton County Junior College, “A LASTING IMPACT - WCJC Business Office Technology Program Prepares Graduates for Workplace,” April 5, 2018.

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