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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

economy

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

Regional Snapshot

Upper Rio Grande Region


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.

Upper Rio Grande Region Counties:

  • Brewster
  • Culberson
  • El Paso
  • Hudspeth
  • Jeff Davis
  • Presidio

Top 10 Industries by Location Quotient

  1. Leather and Allied Product Manufacturing
  2. Apparel Manufacturing
  3. Justice, Public Order and Safety Activities
  4. Truck Transportation
  5. Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing
  6. Museums, Historical Sites and Similar Institutions
  7. Administration of Housing Programs, Urban Planning and Community Development
  8. Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction
  9. Primary Metal Manufacturing
  10. Rental and Leasing Services

Source: JobsEQ®

Population Growth

Upper Rio Grande REGION VS. TEXAS AND U.S., 2010-2019

Region
4.7%

U.S.
6.3%

Texas
15.3%

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.

Education

Average Annual Earnings by Educational Attainment, Upper Rio Grande Region

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.

JOBS & WAGES

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

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.
Source: JobsEQ

Regional Economy

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

Upper Rio Grande Region, Taxable Sales, 2007-2019
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

Summary

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.

Glenn Hegar

Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts


Questions?

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