The six-county Upper Rio Grande region covers about 21,700 square miles in western Texas. It stretches from the westernmost part of the state, where it meets Mexico and New Mexico, along the Upper Rio Grande past Big Bend and up to the New Mexico border around the area of Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
The region includes one metropolitan statistical area (MSA), the El Paso MSA, comprising El Paso and Hudspeth counties.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
In 2019, the Upper Rio Grande region’s estimated total population was about 865,000 or 3 percent of the state’s total population. That marked an increase of 4.7 percent (almost 40,000 people) since the 2010 Census.
Average Annual Earnings by Educational Attainment, Upper Rio Grande Region
|Educational Attainment||Average Annual Earnings, Region|
|Less than High School||$32,989|
|High School or Equivalent, No College||$40,037|
|Some College or Associate Degree||$46,127|
|Bachelor’s Degree or Advanced Degree||$61,820|
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau and JobsEQ
Upper Rio Grande region workers with some college or associate degrees and stable jobs earn an average of $6,090 more annually than those with a high school degree, while those with at least a bachelor’s degree earn an average of $21,783 more.
From 2009 to 2019, the Upper Rio Grande region’s employment rose by nearly 16 percent, more than 6 percentage points below state employment growth. In 2019, the region accounted for about 2.5 percent of the state’s total employment.
The Upper Rio Grande region’s most significant occupations are shown below, sorted by numerical growth during the last five years.
Employment Growth in the Upper Rio Grande Region vs. Texas and U.S., 2009 to 2019
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
Top Occupations in the Upper Rio Grande Region by Numeric Growth, 2014 to 2019
|Occupation||Number Employed||Average Annual Wages|
|Other Personal Care and Service Workers||13,243||$19,300|
|Food and Beverage Serving Workers||21,779||$19,700|
|Health Diagnosing and Treating Practitioners||13,409||$95,900|
|Motor Vehicle Operators||13,388||$38,800|
|Construction Trades Workers||13,599||$33,200|
Note: Data are as of Q4 2019 except wage data, which are for covered employment in 2018.
In 2019, taxable sales directly attributable to businesses in the region approached $8.5 billion, contributing about 1.5 percent to the state’s overall taxable sales.
Regional Receipts Subject to Sales Tax
|Year||Revenue Upper Rio Grande Region|
|2007||6.0 billion dollars|
|2008||6.1 billion dollars|
|2009||5.9 billion dollars|
|2010||6.2 billion dollars|
|2011||6.4 billion dollars|
|2012||6.7 billion dollars|
|2013||6.9 billion dollars|
|2014||7.2 billion dollars|
|2015||7.5 billion dollars|
|2016||7.6 billion dollars|
|2017||7.8 billion dollars|
|2018||8.2 billion dollars|
|2019||8.5 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
The Upper Rio Grande region is predominantly rural with a strong urban core and a steady, consistent economy. The region and its six counties have many unique economic conditions and challenges. El Paso County, with the city of El Paso at its center, is the region’s economic hub.
In the past decade, the region’s economy followed a gradually positive trajectory. It has seen solid job growth, although at rates slightly below the state average. The region’s most highly concentrated industries, revolving around manufacturing, public safety and the U.S. military base at Fort Bliss, played key roles in keeping the region’s economy robust.
The Upper Rio Grande Region is one of the Comptroller’s 12 economic regions.
View a complete list of these regions, plus more in-depth county-by-county data.
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the material on this page, please contact the Comptroller’s Data Analysis and Transparency Division.