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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:Upper Rio Grande 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 Upper Rio Grande economic region — six counties covering about 21,700 square miles in western Texas — has one community college district, El Paso Community College (EPCC). The region is home to about 866,000 people, or more than 3 percent of the state’s population.

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 Upper Rio Grande region’s only community college district, EPCC, reported revenues of more than $127.2 million in fiscal 2018, which produced an additional $64.9 million in indirect and induced economic activity for a total impact of $192.1 million annually. More than 2,000 jobs are supported by the region’s community college spending. Under normal economic conditions, every dollar spent by the community college produces an additional 51 cents of economic activity, while every dollar spent on compensation produces an additional 24 cents of total income to the state economy (Exhibit 1).

Exhibit 1 Estimated Economic Impact of the Upper Rio Grande Region’s Community Colleges, 2019

Estimated Economic Impact of the Upper Rio Grande Region’s Community Colleges, 2019
Indicator Direct Indirect Induced Total Total Multiplier
Employment 1,701 84 300 2,085 1.23
Output $127.2 million $17.6 million $47.3 million $192.1 million 1.51
Compensation $73.9 million $4.1 million $13.7 million $91.8 million 1.24

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 and found considerably greater impact.

Employment and Wages

In general, the region’s restaurant industry, personal care services and healthcare professions have seen the highest employment growth in the last five years. The Upper Rio Grande region added more than 2,000 health care workers and almost 3,600 personal care and service workers between 2014 and 2019. The restaurant industry also expanded, adding more than 3,200 jobs in the same period, while the construction industry created nearly 2,000 additional jobs.

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

Exhibit 2 Top Occupations in Upper Rio Grande Region by Location Quotient, 2014 to 2019

Top Occupations in Upper Rio Grande Region by Location Quotient, 2014 to 2019
Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Wages LQ Number Unemployed Unemployment Rate Five-Year Employment Change
Law Enforcement Workers 4,225 $63,000 1.63 45 1.0% 314
Textile, Apparel and Furnishings Workers 2,098 $21,500 1.55 105 5.1% -17
Communications Equipment Operators 267 $23,700 1.52 8 2.7% -59
Preschool, Primary, Secondary and Special Education School Teachers 13,600 $62,000 1.49 356 2.6% -139
Fire Fighting and Prevention Workers 1,036 $45,700 1.46 18 1.7% 132

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

Source: JobsEQ


Exhibit 3 Top Occupations in Upper Rio Grande Region by Numeric Growth, 2014 to 2019

Top Occupations in Upper Rio Grande Region by Numeric Growth, 2014 to 2019
Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Wages LQ Number Unemployed Unemployment Rate Five-Year Employment Change
Other Personal Care and Service Workers 13,243 $19,300 1.37 703 5.0% 3,584
Food and Beverage Serving Workers 21,779 $19,700 1.28 1,459 6.4% 3,223
Health Diagnosing and Treating Practitioners 13,409 $95,900 1.07 138 1.0% 2,196
Motor Vehicle Operators 13,388 $38,800 1.33 456 3.3% 2,165
Construction Trades Workers 13,599 $33,200 1.09 903 6.3% 1,886

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 Upper Rio Grande region in 2018, workers with some college or associate degrees and with stable jobs — defined as those employed with the same firm throughout a calendar quarter — earned an average of $6,090 more annually than high school graduates (Exhibit 4).

Exhibit 4 Average Annual Earnings by Educational Attainment, Upper Rio Grande Region and Texas, 2018

Average Annual Earnings by Educational Attainment, Upper Rio Grande Region and Texas, 2018
Educational Attainment Number Employed, Region Average Annual Earnings, Region Number Employed, Texas Average Annual Earnings, Texas
Less than high school 82,797 $32,989 2,065,483 $42,808
High school or equivalent, no college 67,533 $40,037 2,765,759 $52,035
Some college or associate degree 72,282 $46,127 3,245,675 $60,428
Bachelor’s or advanced degree 41,457 $61,820 2,454,975 $95,716
Educational attainment not available 47,039 $22,516 1,544,282 $22,087
Total 311,109 $41,659 12,076,174 $58,787

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau and JobsEQ


The increase in wages alone for those workers adds $440.2 million in direct compensation to the state economy each year (Exhibit 5) — more than three times the total spending of EPCC, the region’s only district.

Exhibit 5

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

Employed, Some College or Associate Degree:

72,282

Average Earnings Increase Beyond High School or Equivalent:

$6,090

Total Regional Earnings Increase:

$440.2 million

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

The wage effect is particularly noteworthy given an average annual tuition for EPCC of just $3,750 per year and the modest two-year educational commitment required for an associate degree.1 The highest-paying jobs for associate-degree holders in Texas are in the energy/utility, management, professional services, trade and manufacturing sectors.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 award gaps are largely in business, personal and culinary services and health professions.

The Upper Rio Grande region’s community college districts awarded more than 3,500 certificates and associate degrees in health professions in the 2017-18 school year; the next most-common award areas were general studies and liberal arts, mechanic and repair technologies and other trades (Exhibit 6).

Exhibit 6Top 10 Certificates and Degree Awards in the Upper Rio Grande Region’s Community College, 2017-18 School Year

Top 10 Certificates and Degree Awards in the Upper Rio Grande Region’s Community College, 2017-18 School Year
Certificates and Degrees Number Awarded
Health Professions and Related Clinical Sciences 3,543
Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities 1,515
Mechanic and Repair Technologies/Technicians 954
Business, Management, Marketing and Related Support Services 686
Personal and Culinary Services 501
Security and Protective Services 449
Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services 326
Education 176
Biological and Biomedical Sciences 165
Psychology 163

Source: JobsEQ

Upper Rio Grande Region Community College Overview

The Upper Rio Grande region’s one community college district, El Paso Community College, provided technical and academic coursework for more than 28,000 students in the 2017-18 school year (Exhibit 7).

Exhibit 7 Upper Rio Grande Region’s Community College Overview, 2017-18 School Year

Upper Rio Grande Region’s Community College Overview, 2017-18 School Year
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*
El Paso Community College 28,241 4,428 $3,750 88.3% 11.7% 87.5% 81.0%

*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

El Paso Community College

  • EPCC’s new Transportation Training Center will train El Paso’s future workforce for the high-demand career fields of diesel technology, automotive technology and auto collision and repair.3
  • EPCC also offers a Cisco Networking Academy that guides students toward certification as Cisco Certified Network Associates.4
  • To meet local needs, EPCC provides a Border Health Issues enhanced skills certificate, which teaches students to work as members of multidisciplinary teams to address the unique health care challenges of U.S./Mexico border communities.5

Conclusion

Community colleges play a vital role for students and businesses by offering postsecondary education and job training at great value. As EPCC works to address local skills gaps and meet the needs of area employers, it supports more than 2,000 jobs and adds more than $192 million 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 more than $440 million 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. El Paso Community College, “EPCC Opens Transportation Training Center,” November 20, 2019.
  4. El Paso Community College, “Information Technology Systems.”
  5. El Paso Community College, “Health Professions and Related Science.”

Questions?

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