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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:West 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 West Texas economic region — 30 counties covering about 39,800 square miles in western Texas — has three community college districts: Howard College, Midland College, and Odessa College. The region is home to about 636,000 people, or 2.2 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 West Texas region’s three community college districts reported revenues of nearly $164.9 million in fiscal 2018, which produced an additional $88.8 million in indirect and induced economic activity for a total impact of $253.7 million annually. More than 2,300 jobs are supported by the region’s community college spending. Under normal economic conditions, every dollar spent by community colleges produces an additional 54 cents of economic activity, while every dollar spent on compensation produces an additional 22 cents of total income to the state economy (Exhibit 1).

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

Estimated Economic Impact of the West Texas Region’s Community Colleges, 2019
Indicator Direct Indirect Induced Total Total Multiplier
Employment 1,888 110 347 2,345 1.24
Output $164.9 million $27.9 million $60.9 million $253.7 million 1.54
Compensation $107.5 million $6.0 million $17.4 million $130.9 million 1.22

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 extraction and construction industries have seen the highest employment growth in the last five years. Unlike the rest of the state, the West Texas region has seen an increase in its extraction worker sector, adding nearly 3,600 jobs between 2014 and 2019, despite the recent downturn in the oil and gas industries. The region also has seen increased employment in supervisorial roles, particularly in oil and gas and construction.  

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 West Texas Region by Location Quotient, 2014 to 2019

Top Occupations in the West Texas Region by Location Quotient, 2014 to 2019
Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Wages LQ Number Unemployed Unemployment Rate Five-Year Employment Change
Extraction Workers 19,185 $45,700 38.86 643 3.3% 3,581
Supervisors of Construction and Extraction Workers 5,173 $79,600 3.58 101 2.0% 1,388
Plant and System Operators 1,889 $62,600 2.79 9 0.5% -36
Other Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations 1,045 $68,700 2.64 15 1.6% 379
Physical Scientists 1,211 $144,800 2.15 16 1.4% 72

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 the West Texas Region by Numeric Growth, 2014 to 2019

Top Occupations in the West Texas Region by Numeric Growth, 2014 to 2019
Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Wages LQ Number Unemployed Unemployment Rate Five-Year Employment Change
Construction Trades Workers 19,761 $42,600 1.6 812 3.9% 4,389
Motor Vehicle Operators 16,432 $43,500 1.65 337 2.0% 3,760
Extraction Workers 19,185 $45,700 38.86 643 3.3% 3,581
Food and Beverage Serving Workers 16,717 $21,300 1.0 741 4.2% 2,333
Material Moving Workers 11,566 $37,100 1.05 453 3.8% 1,610

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 West Texas 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 $3,331 more annually than high school graduates (Exhibit 4).

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

Average Annual Earnings by Educational Attainment, West 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 58,851 $46,649 2,065,483 $42,808
High school or equivalent, no college 72,493 $54,196 2,765,759 $52,035
Some college or associate degree 76,276 $57,527 3,245,675 $60,428
Bachelor’s degree or advanced degree 39,251 $72,517 2,454,975 $95,716
Educational attainment not available 36,963 $30,065 1,544,282 $22,087
Total 283,835 $54,379 12,076,174 $58,787

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau and JobsEQ


The increase in wages alone for those workers adds $254.1 million in direct compensation to the state economy each year (Exhibit 5) — more than 1.5 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:

76,276

Average Earnings Increase Beyond High School or Equivalent:

$3,331

Total Regional Earnings Increase:

$254.1 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 $2,653 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 occur largely in health professions, business and the construction trades.

The West Texas region’s community college districts awarded more than 1,200 certificates and associate degrees in general studies and liberal arts in the 2017-18 school year; the next most-common award areas were health professions, business administration and other trades (Exhibit 6).

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

Top 10 Certificates and Degree Awards in the West Texas Region’s Community Colleges, 2017-18 School Year
Certificates and Degrees Number Awarded
Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities 1,215
Health Professions and Related Clinical Sciences 509
Business, Management, Marketing and Related Support Services 275
Personal and Culinary Services 171
Security and Protective Services 162
Engineering Technologies/Technicians 158
Mechanic and Repair Technologies/Technicians 148
Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services 118
Education 83
Precision Production 69

Source: JobsEQ

West Texas Community College Overview

The West Texas region’s three community college districts provided technical and academic coursework for more than 16,000 students in the 2017-18 school year (Exhibit 7).

Exhibit 7 West Texas Region Community College Overview, 2017-18 School Year

West Texas Region 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*
Howard College 4,565 628 $2,560 59.6% 40.4% 84.0% 89.5%
Midland College 5,259 863 $2,670 70.7% 29.3% 89.9% 91.6%
Odessa College 6,571 1,245 $2,730 68.3% 31.7% 90.0% 92.0%

*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

Howard College

  • The SouthWest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf, a Howard College campus, is the nation’s only community college setting for the deaf and hard of hearing.
  • Howard College plays a key role in training in the area of health professions to address regional skills gaps and put graduates to work in the community as first responders, nurses, phlebotomy technicians, EKG technicians and more for daily and emergency health care.
  • Howard College maintains a dental hygiene program to prepare hygienists in the West Texas area and a dental lab technician program for its deaf students.
  • To meet needs in the oil industry, Howard College provides CDL driver and welder training programs.
  • Howard College works to prepare student inmates at the federal prison to have new lives and trade skills such as masonry, building construction and heating, air conditioning and ventilation upon release.3

Midland College

  • To ensure its energy programs are relevant to the oil and gas industry, Midland College partners with Endeavor Energy Resources, LP, whose Energy Services management team serves on advisory committees and provides industry expertise and equipment donations.4
  • To meet increasing demands for medical care, Midland College offers healthcare degrees such as respiratory therapy.5
  • Midland College’s energy technology program helps students find long-term, financially rewarding jobs in the oil and gas industry.6

Odessa College

  • The Weekend College at Odessa College allows students with work and family commitments to earn an associate degree in just two years of weekend classes.7
  • Odessa College offers an energy technology program to help students start careers in high-wage, high-demand jobs such as instrumentation and control technician, mechanical engineering technician and electrical technician.8
  • In partnership with the Fab Foundation and Chevron Corporation, Odessa College hosts the Fab Lab Permian Basin, which allows users to create almost anything they can imagine with technology such as 3D printers, laser cutters and more.9

Conclusion

Community colleges play a vital role for students and businesses by offering postsecondary education and job training at great value. As the West Texas region’s three community college districts work to address local skills gaps and meet the needs of area employers, they support more than 2,300 jobs and add nearly $254 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 $254 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. Email communication from Cheryl T. Sparks, president, Howard College, December 13, 2019.
  4. Midland College, “Midland College and Endeavor Energy Resources, LP Partner to Promote Career Opportunities and Student Success,” January 13, 2020.
  5. Midland College, “As the Demand for Medical Care Increases, Midland College Respiratoru Therapy Grad Answers the Call,” December 2, 2019.
  6. Midland College, “Midland College’s Energy technology Program Trains Next Generation on In-Demand Oil Workers,” November 4, 2019.
  7. Odessa College, “Weekend College.”
  8. Odessa College, “Energy Technology.”
  9. Odessa College, “Fab Lab Grand Opening and Open House.”


Questions?

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

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