Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
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Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
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Texas Community Colleges:South Texas 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 South Texas economic region — 28 counties covering about 37,800 square miles in southernmost Texas — has six community college districts: Coastal Bend College, Del Mar College, Laredo Community College, South Texas College, Southwest Texas Junior College and Texas Southmost College. The region is home to more than 2.4 million people, nearly 9 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 South Texas region’s six community college districts reported revenues of more than $550.1 million in fiscal 2018, which produced an additional $270.6 million in indirect and induced economic activity for a total impact of $820.7 million annually. More than 8,300 jobs are supported by the region’s community college spending. Under normal economic conditions, every dollar spent by community colleges produces an additional 49 cents of economic activity, while every dollar spent on compensation produces an additional 23 cents of total income to the state economy (Exhibit 1).

Exhibit 1 Estimated Economic Impact of the South Texas Region’s Community Colleges, 2019

Estimated Economic Impact of the South Texas Region’s Community Colleges, 2019
Indicator Direct Indirect Induced Total Impact Total Multiplier
Employment 6,511 392 1,451 8,353 1.28
Output $550.1 million $65.6 million $205.0 million $820.7 million 1.49
Compensation $326.5 million $16.0 million $59.1 million $401.5 million 1.23

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 and found considerably greater impact.

Employment and Wages

In general, occupations related to the South Texas region’s restaurant, personal care and healthcare industries have seen the highest employment growth in the last five years. The recent downturn in the oil and gas industries reduced employment in its extraction sector by more than 6 percent. The region has seen an uptick in the personal care and service worker occupation, adding almost 20,000 jobs in the region during the last five years. Food preparation added more than 5,500 jobs, while the region’s health care and social assistance industries added more than 4,000 jobs.

Exhibits 2 and 3 show the region’s most significant occupations, 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 2Top Occupations in South Texas Region by Location Quotient, 2014-2019

Top Occupations in South Texas Region by Location Quotient, 2014-2019
Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Wages LQ Unemployed Unemployment Rate Five-Year Employment Change
Extraction Workers 6,524 $43,200 4.92 438 6.2% -4,512
Fishing and Hunting Workers 351 $15,100 2.75 40 10.2% 0
Other Personal Care and Service Workers 59,215 $20,400 2.31 4,579 7.1% 19,575
Nursing, Psychiatric and Home Health Aides 29,698 $21,300 2.06 1,776 5.6% -3,271
Preschool, Primary, Secondary and Special Education School Teachers 44,409 $55,500 1.84 1,677 3.7% 1,547

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 3Top Occupations in South Texas Region by Numeric Growth, 2014-2019

Top Occupations in South Texas Region by Numeric Growth, 2014-2019
Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Wages LQ Number Unemployed Unemployment Rate Five-Year Employment Change
Other Personal Care and Service Workers 59,215 $20,400 2.31 4,579 7.1% 19,575
Food and Beverage Serving Workers 50,703 $20,100 1.13 4,777 8.4% 5,503
Health Diagnosing and Treating Practitioners 38,402 $95,500 1.15 570 1.5% 4,420
Business Operations Specialists 19,982 $62,900 0.64 842 4.1% 1,994
Health Technologists and Technicians 23,170 $43,700 1.25 719 3.0% 1,933

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 South Texas region, workers with some college or associate degrees and with stable jobs — defined as those employed with the same firm throughout a calendar quarter — earn an average of $4,082 more annually than high school graduates (Exhibit 4).

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

Average Annual Earnings by Educational Attainment, South Texas Region and Texas, 2018
Educational Attainment Number Employed, Region Average Annual Earnings, Region Number Employed, Texas Average Annual Earnings, Texas
Less than high school 208,634 $36,756 2,065,483 $42,808
High school or equivalent, no college 190,717 $42,462 2,765,759 $52,035
Some college or associate degree 200,785 $46,544 3,245,675 $60,428
Bachelor’s degree or advanced degree 103,605 $60,260 2,454,975 $95,716
Educational attainment not available 112,033 $22,869 1,544,282 $22,087
Total 815,773 $42,662 12,076,174 $58,787

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau and JobsEQ

The increase in wages alone for those workers adds an additional $819.6 million in direct compensation to the state economy each year (Exhibit 5) — much more than 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:


Average Earnings Increase Beyond High School or Equivalent:


Total Regional Earnings Increase:

$819.6 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 the region’s community colleges of just $3,429 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 agriculture, health professions and business administration.

The South Texas region’s community college districts awarded more than 5,500 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, precision production and other trades (Exhibit 6).

Exhibit 6Top 10 Certificates and Degree Awards in South Texas Region Community Colleges,  2017-18 School Year

Top 10 Certificates and Degree Awards in South Texas Region Community Colleges,  2017-18 School Year
Certificates and Degrees Number Awarded
Health Professions and Related Clinical Sciences 5,599
Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities 3,408
Skilled Precision Production of Leather, Metal or Wood Products 1,308
Business, Management, Marketing and Related Support Services 1,290
Personal and Culinary Services 1,041
Security and Protective Services 897
Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services 890
Mechanic and Repair Technologies/Technicians 789
Engineering Technologies/Technicians 609
Education 502

Source: JobsEQ

South Texas Community College Overview

The South Texas region’s six community college districts provided technical and academic coursework for more than 72,000 students in the 2017-18 school year (Exhibit 7).

Exhibit 7South Texas Region Community Colleges Overview, 2017-18 School Year

South Texas Region Community Colleges 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*
Coastal Bend College 4,633 887 $2,646 61.1% 38.9% 86.8% 80.2%
Del Mar College 11,867 2,025 $3,170 69.3% 30.7% 88.3% 87.5%
Laredo Community College 10,145 2,040 $4,080 82.5% 17.5% 92.4% 87.9%
South Texas College 31,640 6,508 $3,800 73.0% 27.0% 91.0% 87.9%
Southwest Texas Junior College 6,894 1,001 $2,978 83.6% 16.4% 93.1% 88.8%
Texas Southmost College 7,130 724 $3,900 91.0% 9.0% 90.4% 82.6%

*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

Coastal Bend College

  • Coastal Bend College’s (CBC’s ) medical records coding program trains students to perform medical records functions such as records analysis, information storage and retrieval, coding and indexing of diseases and operations and the release of medical information. It can lead to a career working for hospitals, physicians’ offices and clinics.3
  • More than 95 percent of CBC’s oil and gas technology program graduates have obtained employment in the field.4
  • For students who want to help solve crimes as a crime scene tech or a laboratory assistant, CBC’s forensics program trains students to secure crime scenes, identify and collect evidence and analyze evidence in the lab.5

Del Mar College

  • A 2014 Emsi study showed that Del Mar College (DMC) added $716.7 million to the regional economy.
  • A graduate with a DMC Tech Associate degree earns an average of $27,200 more than high school graduates at their career midpoints.6
  • To address the growing popularity of personal training as a career path, DMC will offer a personal training certification program starting in spring 2020.7

Laredo Community College

  • The Computer Technology Department at Laredo Community College (LCC) offers practical courses designed to address in-demand industry skills and is a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education.8
  • To meet workforce demands, LCC began offering a program in April 2019 to certify paralegals and legal secretaries quickly so they can start their careers.9
  • To help students enter the field of aviation, LCC is working with Laredo International Airport to bring a flight school to the college and to open paths for students to work in flight programs and aviation mechanics.10

South Texas College

  • The South Texas College (STC) Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence provides advanced training for local, state and federal public safety professionals along the U.S./Mexico border to help address public safety challenges including cyber incidents and threat assessment.11
  • STC’s Registered Apprenticeship Program focuses on connecting students studying automotive technology, industrial maintenance, HVAC and machining with local employers.12
  • To help students learn about growing industries in the community, in fall 2019 STC added a personal trainer certification as well as courses in drama, public safety and culinary arts.13

Southwest Texas Junior College

  • In December 2019, Southwest Texas Junior College (STJC) became an official Part 147 General and Airframe training school certified by the Federal Aviation Administration to help address the increasing demand for aviation mechanics at Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio.14
  • STJC received a $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to implement an initiative to expand science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) career pathways, expand STEM dual-credit courses for high school students and implement a professional development program for STEM teachers starting in 2019.15
  • To meet the high demand for healthcare workers, STJC began a patient care technician program in fall 2018 that allows students to earn certifications including certified phlebotomy technician, certified medical assistant and certified electrocardiogram technician.16

Texas Southmost College

  • The diagnostic medical sonography program at Texas Southmost College (TSC) is crucial to helping healthcare facilities in the Rio Grande Valley, such as Doctors Hospital Renaissance, fill positions.17
  • To meet a growing demand for scaffold builders, TSC implemented a two-week Industrial Scaffolding Committee Basic Access program, which prepares students for entry-level jobs in the scaffolding industry.18
  • The Texas A&M-Chevron Engineering Academy at TSC allows students to co-enroll at Texas A&M while taking courses at TSC to pursue an engineering degree.19


Community colleges play a vital role for students and businesses by offering postsecondary education and job training at great value. As the South Texas region’s six community college districts work to address local skills gaps and meet the specific needs of area employers, they support nearly 8,400 jobs and add almost $821 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 another $820 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. Coastal Bend College, “Medical Coding at Coastal Bend College,” January 13.
  4. Coastal Bend College, “Oil and Gas Technology at Coastal Bend College,” January 13, 2020.
  5. Coastal Bend College, “Forensics at Coastal Bend College,” January 13, 2020.
  6. Del Mar College and Emsi, “Total Annual Impact: Demonstrating the Value of Del Mar College on the Economy of the Coastal Bend Area,” (PDF) 2014.
  7. Del Mar College, “New Personal Training Certification Program — November 2019,” December 4, 2019.
  8. Laredo College, “Computer Technology.”
  9. “Laredo College Offering Paralegal and Legal Secretary Program,” KGNS (April 11, 2019).
  10. “Laredo College Offers Flight School for Future Pilots,” KGNS (January 17, 2020).
  11. South Texas College, “Advanced Training and Certification.”
  12. South Texas College, “‘Stars Align’ for Partnerships and Apprenticeships through South Texas College,” August 8, 2019.
  13. South Texas College, “Personal Trainer Certification among 15 New Fall 2019 Classes,” July 31, 2019.
  14. Southwest Texas Junior College, “FAA Approves SWTJC as a Certified General and Airframe Training School,” January 2020.
  15. Southwest Texas Junior College, “SWTJC Awarded $2.7 Million STEM Grant,” November 2018.
  16. Southwest Texas Junior College, “SWTJC Offers New Patient Care Technician Program.”
  17. Texas Southmost College, “TSC Sonography Students Poised to Bolster RGV Healthcare Facility,” October 4, 2019.
  18. Texas Southmost College, “TSC’s Industrial Scaffolding Program Helps Students ‘Climb Higher.’”
  19. Texas Southmost College, “Texas A&M-Chevron Engineering Academy at Texas Southmost College.”


If you have any questions or concerns regarding the material on this page, please contact the Comptroller’s Data Analysis and Transparency Division.