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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The Central Texas Region2020 Regional Report

This analysis predates the COVID-19 crisis and the economic impacts that followed. It is offered as an overview of the Central Texas regional economy and a resource for comparative purposes.

The 20-county Central Texas region covers about 17,400 square miles in the heart of Texas, stretching from Hillsboro on the north to Interstate 45 on the east to East Yegua Creek on the south to the conjunction of the San Saba and Colorado rivers.

The Central Texas region includes three metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs): the College Station-Bryan MSA, comprising Brazos, Burleson and Robertson counties; the Waco MSA, comprising Falls and McLennan counties; and the Killeen-Temple MSA, comprising Bell, Coryell and Lampasas counties. Counties in the region not associated with an MSA include Bosque, Freestone, Grimes, Hamilton, Hill, Leon, Limestone, Madison, Milam, Mills, San Saba and Washington counties. The region is unique in that it has three economic centers, the cities of Killeen (Bell County), Waco (McLennan County) and College Station (Brazos County).

This report examines regional economic trends including population, household income, jobs and wages and education, as well as economic conditions and characteristics unique to the Central Texas region.


The Central Texas region’s estimated total population in 2019 was 1.2 million, or about 4.3 percent of the state’s total population. This is an increase of about 10.7 percent (about 120,000 people) since the 2010 census. An estimated 29 percent of the region’s population is concentrated in Bell County, which is part of the Killeen-Temple MSA.

From 2010 to 2019, the region’s population grew at a slower pace than the state (Exhibit 1). While the population of each county in the region changed during this period, Brazos and Bell outpaced all others, growing by 17.6 percent and 17 percent, respectively — above the state’s 15.3 percent growth rate.

Exhibit 1
Central Texas Region Population by County, 2010 and 2019
County 2010 Census Estimate
(as of July 2019)
Change 2010 to 2019 Percent Change
Bell 310,235 362,924 52,689 17.0%
Bosque 18,212 18,685 473 2.6%
Brazos 194,851 229,211 34,360 17.6%
Burleson 17,187 18,443 1,256 7.3%
Coryell 75,388 75,951 563 0.7%
Falls 17,866 17,297 -569 -3.2%
Freestone 19,816 19,717 -99 -0.5%
Grimes 26,604 28,880 2,276 8.6%
Hamilton 8,517 8,461 -56 -0.7%
Hill 35,089 36,649 1,560 4.4%
Lampasas 19,677 21,428 1,751 8.9%
Leon 16,801 17,404 603 3.6%
Limestone 23,384 23,437 53 0.2%
Madison 13,664 14,284 620 4.5%
McLennan 234,906 256,623 21,717 9.2%
Milam 24,757 24,823 66 0.3%
Mills 4,936 4,873 -63 -1.3%
Robertson 16,622 17,074 452 2.7%
San Saba 6,131 6,055 -76 -1.2%
Washington 33,718 35,882 2,164 6.4%
College Station-Bryan MSA 228,660 264,728 36,068 15.8%
Killeen-Temple MSA 405,300 460,303 55,003 13.6%
Waco MSA 252,772 273,920 21,148 8.4%
Central Texas Region Total 1,118,361 1,238,101 119,740 10.7%
Texas Total 25,145,561 28,995,881 3,850,320 15.3%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Population Composition

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey, the median age of the residents of the Central Texas region’s counties is on par with that of the state as a whole. Three of the region’s 20 counties had a median age significantly below the state median age of 34.2 years in 2018. These three – Bell (30.4 years), Brazos (25.5 years) and Coryell (31 years), combined with McLennan (33 years) – make up a majority of the region’s population. In fact, Brazos County has one of the “youngest” populations in the state. The College Station-Bryan and Killeen-Temple MSAs both had median ages significantly lower than the state; in 2018, the Waco MSA’s was similar to the statewide median.

About 57 percent of the Central Texas region’s total population was white (not Hispanic) in 2018 — 14 percentage points higher than non-Hispanic whites’ 43.4 percent share of the state population (Exhibit 2).

Household Income

The Central Texas region’s median household income was $50,242 in 2018. Texas’ household income is generally distributed among five income levels. Of more than 9 million Texas households, 21 percent had incomes less than $25,000 in 2018, while 17 percent had incomes greater than $125,000. In every region in the state, nearly 18 percent of households had average incomes between $50,000 and $75,000. The region’s household income was lower than the state average; only 30.6 percent of the region’s household incomes were greater than $75,000, versus 38 percent for Texas as a whole (Exhibit 3). This disparity may be attributable to the younger median age of residents in three of the region’s four most populous counties.

Exhibit 2
Central Texas Region Population by Race and Ethnicity, 2018
Ethnicity Central Texas Region State Total
Hispanic 22.6% 38.6%
Black (not Hispanic) 14.7% 11.6%
White (not Hispanic) 57.2% 43.4%
Other 5.5% 6.3%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Exhibit 3
Central Texas Region and Texas Household Income Percentile, 2018
Income Level Central Texas Region State Total
less than $25,000 25.4% 21.1%
$25,000 to $50,000 25.6% 23.0%
$50,000 to $75,000 18.4% 17.9%
$75,000 to $125,000 19.3% 20.6%
more than $125,000 11.2% 17.4%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Regional Industries

In 2019, the Central Texas region accounted for 3.9 percent of the state’s total employment. Exhibit 4 lists the industries with the greatest regional employment concentrations compared to the national average, as measured by location quotient (LQ). LQ represents an industry’s proportionate concentration in the region; an LQ greater than 1.0 means that industry employment is more concentrated in the region than nationally. A high LQ can identify industries that have a competitive advantage in the region, such as the ability to produce products more efficiently and of a higher quality.

Based on location quotients, the Central Texas region is a leader in lessors of nonfinancial intangible assets; animal production and aquaculture; and support activities for mining.

Exhibit 4
Top 10 Central Texas Region Industries, 2019
Industry LQ Number Employed Average Annual Wages
Lessors of Nonfinancial Intangible Assets (except Copyrighted Works) 5.05 362 $83,262
Animal Production and Aquaculture 2.71 2,234 $41,097
Support Activities for Mining 2.48 2,668 $78,235
Pipeline Transportation 2.17 345 $112,357
Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction 2.07 7,975 $54,507
Mining (except Oil and Gas) 1.91 1,135 $91,961
Educational Services 1.87 73,825 $44,802
Furniture and Related Product Manufacturing 1.85 2,214 $41,091
Paper Manufacturing 1.74 1,967 $51,660
Justice, Public Order, and Safety Activities 1.73 10,346 $53,256
Total - All Industries 0.97 445,350 $45,085

Data are as of Q4 2019 except wage data, which are for covered employment in 2018.
Source: JobsEQ

U.S. Military Installation Impact

Texas has 14 U.S. military installations within its borders. In 2019, these bases directly employed more than 226,000 and supported nearly 634,000 jobs in all. In all, military installations in Texas contributed an estimated $75.3 billion annually to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP). Fort Hood, the only military installation in the Central Texas region, had a positive impact on the state economy, supporting an estimated 153,000 jobs in 2019 and contributing about $18.2 billion to the state’s GDP (Exhibit 5).

Exhibit 5
U.S. Military Impact on the Central Texas Region
Estimated 2019
Region Total Jobs Supported Contribution to State GDP
Central Texas 152,701 $18.2 billion
State of Texas 633,892 $75.3 billion

Sources: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Texas Military Preparedness Commission and REMI

Learn more about the impact of U.S. military installations on the state’s economy.

Jobs and Wages

Central Texas regional employment rose by 12 percent from 2009 to 2019, much lower than the state’s total job growth rate. During the same period, employment rose more than 23 percent in the College Station-Bryan MSA; about 14 percent in the Killen-Temple MSA; and more than 10 percent in the Waco MSA (Exhibit 6). In 2019, more than 31 percent of the region’s jobs were located within the Killen-Temple MSA. The Waco MSA accounted for nearly 26 percent, while the College Station-Bryan MSA accounted for more than 25 percent.

Exhibit 6
Central Texas Region Employment Trends, 2019
Area Number of Jobs (2019) Actual Change (2009 to 2019) Percent Change (2009 to 2019)
College Station-Bryan MSA 126,061 23,922 23.4%
Killeen-Temple MSA 153,716 18,897 14.0%
Waco MSA 127,314 12,028 10.4%
Central Texas Region 492,501 53,240 12.1%
Texas 12,531,100 2,284,407 22.3%
United States 147,886,638 17,768,373 13.7%

Note: Figures include private- and public-sector employees with the exception of active-duty military personnel, railroad employees, religious institution employees and the self-employed.

Sources: JobsEQ and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Significant Regional Occupations

The Central Texas region’s most significant occupations are shown in Exhibits 7 and 8, first by location quotient and second by numeric growth during the last five years.

Exhibit 7
Top Occupations in the Central Texas Region by Location Quotient,
2014 to 2019
Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Wages LQ Unemployment Rate Five-Year Employment Change
Postsecondary Teachers 11,441 $82,100 2.52 2.0% 754
Extraction Workers 1,460 $41,000 2.06 5.1% -474
Other Management Occupations 22,616 $81,200 1.62 1.1% 546
Law Enforcement Workers 5,848 $52,300 1.59 1.0% -125
Woodworkers 1,401 $29,200 1.57 3.7% 202

Note: Data are as of Q4 2019 except wage data, which are for covered employment in 2018.

Source: JobsEQ

Exhibit 8
Top Occupations in the Central Texas Region by Numeric Growth,
2014 to 2019
Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Wages LQ Unemployment Rate Five-Year Employment Change
Food and Beverage Serving Workers 28,795 $20,500 1.2 6.0% 4,394
Other Personal Care and Service Workers 12,763 $21,400 0.93 4.5% 2,210
Retail Sales Workers 29,329 $24,200 1.07 5.5% 1,990
Health Diagnosing and Treating Practitioners 18,358 $94,900 1.03 0.9% 1,820
Building Cleaning and Pest Control Workers 12,059 $24,100 1.04 4.7% 1,635

Note: Data are as of Q4 2019 except wage data, which are for covered employment in 2018.
Source: JobsEQ


A strong educational foundation provides a cornerstone for growth and competitiveness in the global economy, offering opportunities for workplace advancement and business expansion.

Wages by Educational Attainment

Post-secondary education delivers a good return on investments of time and tuition. In 2018, Central Texas 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 $3,773 more annually than those with a high school degree, while those with at least a bachelor’s degree earned an average of $19,389 more (Exhibit 9).

Exhibit 9
Average Annual Earnings by Educational Attainment, Central Texas Region and Texas, 2018
Educational Attainment Number Employed, Region Percent of Region Average Annual Earnings, Region Number Employed, Texas Percent of Texas Average Annual Earnings, Texas
Less than High School 66,723 15.3% $37,202 2,065,483 17.1% $42,808
High school or Equivalent, No College 104,529 24.0% $41,848 2,765,759 22.9% $52,035
Some College or Associate Degree 117,903 27.1% $45,621 3,245,675 26.9% $60,428
Bachelor’s Degree or Advanced Degree 79,996 18.4% $61,237 2,454,975 20.3% $95,716
Educational attainment Unavailable 66,089 15.2% $20,528 1,544,282 12.8% $22,087
Total 435,240 $43,447 12,076,174 $58,787

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau and JobsEQ

During the 2017-18 school year, 85.1 percent of the Central Texas region’s class of public high school senior students graduated, lower than the state rate of 90 percent (Exhibit 10) The region’s high school graduation rate has declined since the 2011-12 school year, falling below the state rate and consistently decreasing in the past few years.

Exhibit 10
Central Texas Region Public High School Graduation Rates, 2009-10 to 2017-18 School Year
Region2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Central Texas 86.5% 87.8% 89.8% 88.8% 88.6% 87.7% 85.6% 85.3% 85.1%
Texas 84.3% 85.9% 87.7% 88.0% 88.3% 89.0% 89.1% 89.7% 90.0%

Source: Texas Education Agency

Many high school graduates enroll in postsecondary programs, which offer greater job prospects and the possibility of earning higher wages. Residents of the Central Texas region enjoy a variety of options for higher educational achievement (Exhibit 11).

Exhibit 11 Central Texas Region Institutions of Higher Education


  • Baylor University
  • Texas A&M University
  • Texas A&M University – Central Texas
  • University of Mary Hardin-Baylor

Health Science Schools

  • Texas A&M Health Science Center

Junior and Community Colleges

  • Blinn College District
  • Central Texas College
  • Hill College
  • McLennan Community College
  • Temple College
  • Texas State Technical College System
  • Texas State Technical College – Waco

Source: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

The Central Texas region’s five community college districts provided technical and academic coursework for more than 47,000 students in the 2017-18 school year (Exhibit 12).

Exhibit 12
Central 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*
Blinn College 19,113 2,292 $3,630 87.0% 13.0% 93.2% 93.6%
Central Texas College 9,976 2,255 $2,700 73.3% 26.7% 57.7% 70.6%
Hill College 4,421 701 $2,990 81.7% 18.3% 87.5% 93.6%
McLennan Community College 8,954 1,628 $3,450 73.9% 26.1% 90.6% 93.0%
Temple College 4,910 693 $2,970 87.9% 12.1% 88.4% 92.1%

*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

The region’s community colleges awarded more than 4,600 certificates and associate degrees in general studies and liberal arts in the 2017-18 school year; the next most common awards were for health professions, business administration and marketing (Exhibit 13).

Exhibit 13
Top 10 Certificates and Degree Awards in the Central Texas Region Community Colleges,
2017-18 School Year
Certificates and Degrees Number Awarded
Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities 4,678
Health Professions and Related Clinical Sciences 1,648
Business, Management, Marketing and Related Support Services 1,360
Security and Protective Services 745
Mechanic and Repair Technologies/Technicians 739
Engineering Technologies/Technicians 726
Skilled Precision Production of Leather, Metal or Wood Products 553
Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services 475
Personal and Culinary Services 271
Construction Trades 240

Source: JobsEQ

Regional Economy

The relative health of the Central Texas region’s economy can be measured by its sales tax revenue and comparison to other states on education, population, per capita income and unemployment rate. Together, these data are good indicators of the region’s economic dynamics and competitiveness.

Sales Tax Revenue

Sales taxes are inherently volatile in the short term but when reviewed over time can provide a useful indication of the state’s economic condition.

Sales receipts subject to state sales tax directly attributable to the Central Texas region trended upward in the past decade. The region saw a slow but steady increase in taxable sales following the 2009 recession, with 2019 results showing a continuation of this trajectory (Exhibit 14). For 2019, receipts subject to state sales tax directly attributed to businesses in the Central Texas region totaled $12.3 billion , contributing about 2.2 percent to the state’s overall taxable sales. The Waco MSA directly accounted for about $3.1 billion of this total, while the Killeen-Temple and College Station-Bryan MSAs contributed about $3.9 billion and $3.4 billion , respectively.

Exhibit 14
Central Texas Region, Taxable Sales, 2007-2019
Year Revenue Central Texas Region
2007 8.4 billion dollars
2008 8.9 billion dollars
2009 8.3 billion dollars
2010 8.5 billion dollars
2011 8.6 billion dollars
2012 9.3 billion dollars
2013 9.8 billion dollars
2014 10.5 billion dollars
2015 10.7 billion dollars
2016 11.1 billion dollars
2017 11.8 billion dollars
2018 12.2 billion dollars
2019 12.3 billion dollars

Note: Numbers shown are for reported revenue subject to sales tax and directly attributed to the region.
Source: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

In 1997, the U.S., Canada and Mexico jointly released the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), which classifies all business enterprises for the purpose of collecting, analyzing and publishing economic statistics. A review of two-digit NAICS codes allows for a broad analysis of industry sectors.

In 2019, the the Central Texas region’s retail trade and food services and accommodation sectors contribute most to taxable sales, with the two combined accounting for 69 percent of the region’s total. Two other industries of note are the wholesale trade and the manufacturing sectors, which together contributed a combined 10.4 percent of the region’s reported taxable sales.

Central Texas Region vs. the U.S.

Exhibit 15 shows how the Central Texas region ranks with other states and the nation on a number of demographic and economic measures. If it were a state, the region would be the 42nd largest in the union in terms of land area (sized between West Virgina and Maryland) and have the 43rd largest population.

Exhibit 15
Central Texas Region Compared to the U.S.
Measure Central Texas Region Rank if Region
were a State
Texas State Rank U.S.
Square Miles 17,362 42 268,597 2 3,531,905
Population, 2019 1,238,101 43 28,995,881 2 328,239,523
Population with at least a High School Diploma, 2018 86.2% 44 83.2% 49 87.7%
Population with Bachelor’s Degree or Higher, 2018 24.1% 46 29.3% 28 31.5%
Population Under 18 Years, 2018 24.1% 9 25.8% 2 22.4%
Population 65 Years and Above, 2018 13.7% 48 12.6% 48 16.0%
Population Percent Change, 2010 to 2019 10.7% 11 15.3% 2 6.3%
Per Capita Income, 2018 $40,757 50 $50,355 26 $54,446
Unemployment Rate, 2019 3.4% 25 3.5% 27 3.7%

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Central Texas Regional Summary

The Central Texas region is a microcosm of the state — both urban and rural, with a vibrant and diverse economy. The region is unique in that it has three distinct economic centers: the Waco, Killeen-Temple and College Station-Bryan MSAs.

The Central Texas region and its 20 counties have many unique economic conditions and challenges. It has seen reasonable population growth across the board since 2010, and its median age is significantly younger than that of Texas as a whole. The region’s employment growth rate is below the state’s. TheCollege Station-Bryan MSA has leadthe region in employment growth.

Fort Hood Army base has had a significant impact on the Central Texas region’s local economies. In addition, 2019 receipts subject to state sales tax indicated a continuation of the region’s slow and steady rise after the 2009 recession. Many distinct industry subsectors are represented in the region’s most highly concentrated industries, attesting to its diverse economy.


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