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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


The Southeast Region2020 Regional Report

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

The 15-county Southeast region covers about 12,800 square miles in easternmost Texas, stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to Nacogdoches along the Louisiana border.

The Southeast region contains one metropolitan statistical area (MSA), the Beaumont-Port Arthur MSA. It comprises Hardin, Jefferson, Newton and Orange counties. Counties in the region not associated with an MSA include Angelina, Houston, Jasper, Nacogdoches, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Trinity and Tyler counties. The region’s economic center is the city of Beaumont in Jefferson County.

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


The Southeast region’s estimated total population in 2019 was about 780,000, or nearly 3 percent of the state’s total population. This represented an increase of about 1 percent (or about 10,000 people) since the 2010 Census. An estimated 32 percent of the region’s population is concentrated in Jefferson County. In 2019, the Beaumont-Port Arthur MSA accounted for 50.1 percent of the region’s population and about 1.4 percent of the state’s population.

From 2010 to 2019, the region’s population grew more slowly than the state’s (Exhibit 1). Polk County’s population rose by more than 13 percent, outpacing all other counties in the region.

Exhibit 1
Southeast Region Population by County, 2010 and 2019
County 2010 Census Estimate
(as of July 2019)
Change 2010 to 2019 Percent Change
Angelina 86,771 86,715 -56 -0.1%
Hardin 54,635 57,602 2,967 5.4%
Houston 23,732 22,968 -764 -3.2%
Jasper 35,710 35,529 -181 -0.5%
Jefferson 252,273 251,565 -708 -0.3%
Nacogdoches 64,524 65,204 680 1.1%
Newton 14,445 13,595 -850 -5.9%
Orange 81,837 83,396 1,559 1.9%
Polk 45,413 51,353 5,940 13.1%
Sabine 10,834 10,542 -292 -2.7%
San Augustine 8,865 8,237 -628 -7.1%
San Jacinto 26,384 28,859 2,475 9.4%
Shelby 25,448 25,274 -174 -0.7%
Trinity 14,585 14,651 66 0.5%
Tyler 21,766 21,672 -94 -0.4%
Beaumont-Port Arthur MSA 403,190 392,563 3,818 1.0%
Southeast Region Total 767,222 777,162 9,940 1.3%
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 ages of both the Southeast region and the Beaumont-Port Arthur MSA are significantly older than the state’s. In 2018, 14 of the region’s 15 counties had median ages significantly higher than the state’s median of 34.2 years. Sabine County had the region’s oldest average population, and one of the oldest in the state, with a median age of about 50.6 years. On the other hand, Nacogdoches County not only had the youngest population in the region, but at 30.4 years it was actually significantly younger than the state median.

About 14.4 percent of the Southeast region’s total population was Hispanic – more than 24 percentage points lower than Hispanics’ 38.6 percent share of the state population (Exhibit 2). The region also has a large black (not Hispanic) population of nearly 20 percent in 2018, versus 11.6 percent for the state.

Household Income

In 2018, the region’s median household income for the Southeast region was $47,730. Texas’ household income is generally distributed among five income levels (Exhibit 3). Of more than 9 million Texas households, 21 percent had incomes less than $25,000, while 17 percent had incomes greater than $125,000. In every region in the state, nearly 18 percent of households had an average income between $50,000 and $75,000. Household income in the Southeast region was significantly lower than the state’s; only 28.5 percent of its households had incomes above $75,000, versus 38 percent of the state’s.

Exhibit 2
Southeast Region Population by Race and Ethnicity, 2018
Ethnicity Southeast Region State Total
Hispanic 14.4% 38.6%
Black (not Hispanic) 19.7% 11.6%
White (not Hispanic) 62.4% 43.4%
Other 3.6% 6.3%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Exhibit 3
Southeast Region and Texas Household Income Percentile, 2018
Income Level Southeast Region State Total
less than $25,000 28.8% 21.1%
$25,000 to $50,000 25.0% 23.0%
$50,000 to $75,000 17.6% 17.9%
$75,000 to $125,000 17.6% 20.6%
more than $125,000 10.9% 17.4%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Regional Industries

In 2019, the Southeast region accounted for more than 2 percent of the state’s jobs. 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 Southeast region is a leader in the petroleum and coal products manufacturing, forestry and logging and pipeline transportation industries.

Exhibit 4
Top 10 Southeast Region Industries, 2019
Occupation LQ Number Employed Average Annual Wages
Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing 22.16 4,657 $140,673
Forestry and Logging 8.95 964 $46,871
Pipeline Transportation 6.66 637 $113,840
Wood Product Manufacturing 5.04 3,818 $53,545
Chemical Manufacturing 4.46 7,043 $131,727
Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction 3.55 8,196 $69,549
Support Activities for Mining 2.50 1,617 $83,721
Construction of Buildings 2.46 7,581 $70,891
Justice, Public Order and Safety Activities 2.27 8,116 $56,407
Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing 1.85 5,145 $66,508
Total - All Industries 0.97 267,858 $49,764

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

Jobs and Wages

The region’s employment increased by about 1 percent from 2009 to 2019; employment in the Beaumont-Port Arthur MSA rose by a similar amount (Exhibit 5). About 60 percent of the region’s jobs are in the Beaumont-Port Arthur MSA.

Exhibit 5
Southeast Region Employment Trends, 2019
Area Number of Jobs (2019) Actual Change (2009 to 2019) Percent Change (2009 to 2019)
Beaumont-Port Arthur MSA 159,579 2,294 1.5%
Southeast Region 268,964 3,222 1.2%
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 Southeast region’s most significant occupations are shown in Exhibits 6 and 7, first by location quotient and second by numeric growth during the last five years.

Exhibit 6
Top Occupations in the Southeast Region by Location Quotient, 2014 to 2019
Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Wages LQ Unemployment Rate Five-Year Employment Change
Forest, Conservation and Logging Workers 731 $41,200 5.87 7.5% -5
Plant and System Operators 2,386 $69,500 4.07 1.4% -185
Fishing and Hunting Workers 144 $15,100 3.50 11.9% 21
Extraction Workers 1,038 $45,400 2.43 7.1% -407
Rail Transportation Workers 462 $52,500 2.33 1.2% -53

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

Source: JobsEQ

Exhibit 7
Top Occupations in the Southeast Region by Numeric Growth, 2014 to 2019
Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Wages LQ Unemployment Rate Five-Year Employment Change
Other Personal Care and Service Workers 9,422 $19,900 1.14 6.1% 1,853
Food and Beverage Serving Workers 15,480 $19,900 1.07 8.2% 1,418
Construction Trades Workers 16,691 $43,700 1.57 8.3% 946
Building Cleaning and Pest Control Workers 6,542 $23,900 0.93 6.5% 708
Top Executives 4,476 $106,100 0.90 2.3% 504

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, Southeast region 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 $4,100 more annually than those with a high school degree, while those with at least a bachelor’s degree earned an average of $20,207 more (Exhibit 8).

Exhibit 8
Average Annual Earnings by Educational Attainment, Southeast 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 40,454 15.3% $36,893 2,065,483 17.1% $42,808
High School or Equivalent, No College 69,825 26.4% $40,911 2,765,759 22.9% $52,035
Some College or Associate Degree 75,084 28.4% $45,011 3,245,675 26.9% $60,428
Bachelor’s Degree or Advanced Degree 45,682 17.3% $59,399 2,454,975 20.3% $95,716
Educational Attainment Unavailable 32,969 12.5% $21,455 1,544,282 12.8% $22,087
Total 264,013 $42,936 12,076,174 $58,787

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau and JobsEQ

The Southeast region’s high school graduation rate has risen slightly since the 2009-10 school year, with 91.5 percent of the region’s class of public high school senior students graduating during the 2017-18 school year, slightly higher than the state’s rate of 90 percent (Exhibit 9).

Exhibit 9
Southeast Region Public High School Graduation Rates, 2009-10 to 2017-18 School Year
Region2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Southeast 88.5% 89.3% 91.1% 91.1% 90.0% 90.7% 90.4% 91.7% 91.5%
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 higher wages. Residents of the Southeast region enjoy several options for higher educational achievement (Exhibit 10).

Exhibit 10 Southeast Region Institutions of Higher Education


  • Lamar University
  • Stephen F. Austin State University

Junior and Community Colleges

  • Angelina College
  • Lamar Institute of Technology
  • Lamar State College - Orange
  • Lamar State College - Port Arthur

Source: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

The Southeast region’s single community college district, Angelina College, provided technical and academic coursework to more than 4,800 students in the 2017-18 school year (Exhibit 11).

Exhibit 11
Southeast 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*
Angelina College 4,819 942 $2,730 51.5% 48.5% 85.7% 90.5%

*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

Angelina College awarded more than 800 certificates and associate degrees in health professions in the 2017-18 school year; the next most-common awards were for general studies and liberal arts and engineering (Exhibit 12).

Exhibit 12
Top 10 Certificates and Degree Awards in the Southeast Region’s Community Colleges, 2017-18 School Year
Certificates and Degrees Number Awarded
Health Professions and Related Clinical Sciences 829
Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities 428
Engineering Technologies/Technicians 349
Science Technologies/Technicians 322
Security and Protective Services 219
Personal and Culinary Services 194
Precision Production 171
Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services 163
Mechanic and Repair Technologies/Technicians 140
Family and Consumer Sciences/Human Sciences 68

Source: JobsEQ

Regional Economy

The relative health of the Southeast region’s economy can be measured by its sales tax revenue and by comparisons with other areas 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 Southeast region trended upward in the past decade. The region had a reasonable increase in taxable sales following the 2009 recession. Receipts leveled off after 2014 with an upward trajectory in 2018, but 2019 indicated another leveling off (Exhibit 13). For 2019, taxable sales directly attributable to businesses in the Southeast region exceeded $8 billion, contributing about 1.4 percent to the state’s overall taxable sales. The Beaumont-Port Arthur MSA directly accounted for about $5 billion of this total.

Exhibit 13
Southeast Region, Taxable Sales, 2007-2019
Year Revenue Southeast Region
2007 6.5 billion dollars
2008 7.0 billion dollars
2009 6.5 billion dollars
2010 6.4 billion dollars
2011 6.6 billion dollars
2012 6.9 billion dollars
2013 7.1 billion dollars
2014 7.3 billion dollars
2015 7.3 billion dollars
2016 7.2 billion dollars
2017 7.4 billion dollars
2018 8.0 billion dollars
2019 8.0 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 Southeast region’s retail trade and food services and accommodation sectors contributed most to taxable sales, together accounting for about 67 percent of the region’s total. Three other industries of note were the wholesale trade, construction and the manufacturing sectors, together contributing 17 percent of the region’s taxable sales.

Southeast Region vs. the U.S.

Exhibit 14 shows how the Southeast region ranks among other states and the nation on a number of demographic and economic measures. As a state, the Southeast region would be the 42nd largest in terms of land area (about the same size as Maryland) and have the 47th largest population.

Exhibit 14
Southeast Region Compared to the U.S.
Measure Southeast Region Rank if Region
were a State
Texas State Rank U.S.
Square Miles 12,772 42 268,597 2 3,531,905
Population, 2019 777,162 47 28,995,881 2 328,239,523
Population with at Least a High School Diploma, 2018 83.7% 49 83.2% 49 87.7%
Population with Bachelor’s Degree or Higher, 2018 16.7% 51 29.3% 28 31.5%
Population Under 18 Years, 2018 23.5% 13 25.8% 2 22.4%
Population 65 Years and Above, 2018 17.% 19 12.6% 48 16.0%
Population Percent Change, 2010 to 2019 1.3% 40 15.3% 2 6.3%
Per Capita Income, 2018 $41,264 49 $50,355 26 $54,446
Unemployment Rate, 2019 5.0% 49 3.5% 27 3.7%

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

Southeast Regional Summary

The Southeast region and its 15 counties have many unique economic conditions and challenges. The region has seen limited population growth since 2010, and residents of 14 of its 15 counties are significantly older than the state’s median age. Nacogdoches County, however, has a significantly younger population than the state.

The Southeast region took longer than most Texas regions to recover from the Great Recession. Economic trends have moved upward since then, with taxable sales continuing to rise in 2019. The region has had slower employment growth than the rest of the state in the last decade. The diversity of its employment pool, including chemical and petroleum products production and forestry services, add to the strength of the Southeast region’s economy.


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