economy

High Plains Region Snapshot

Download PDF.

As the state's chief financial officer, I am charged with monitoring the economic health of our state. Therefore, it's vitally important that my office studies factors related to our regional economies.

The 41 counties comprising the High Plains Region cover the Panhandle and the South Plains — home to a substantial portion of Texas' agriculture production.

Below, we track regional trends in population growth, personal income, jobs and wages, education and health care access — a wildcard issue that, if left unaddressed, is of particular concern to the region.

Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

High Plains Region Counties

  • Armstrong
  • Bailey
  • Briscoe
  • Carson
  • Castro
  • Childress
  • Cochran
  • Collingsworth
  • Crosby
  • Dallam
  • Deaf Smith
  • Dickens
  • Donley
  • Floyd
  • Garza
  • Gray
  • Hale
  • Hall
  • Hansford
  • Hartley
  • Hemphill
  • Hockley
  • Hutchinson
  • King
  • Lamb
  • Lipscomb
  • Lubbock
  • Lynn
  • Moore
  • Motley
  • Ochiltree
  • Oldham
  • Parmer
  • Potter
  • Randall
  • Roberts
  • Sherman
  • Swisher
  • Terry
  • Wheeler
  • Yoakum

Crop production generated more than $12.2 billion in Texas High Plains economic activity in 2010.

Source: Texas Tech University and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

Key Industries 2016

  • Animal Production and Aquaculture
  • Crop Production
  • Support Activities for Agriculture and Forestry
  • Food Manufacturing
  • Textile Mills
  • Rail Transportation
  • Broadcasting
  • Truck Transportation
  • State Government

Population Growth

High Plains Region vs. Texas and U.S., 2004-2014

  • Region: 8%
  • Texas: 20%
  • U.S.: 9%

Lubbock, Potter and Randall Counties house 63% of the region's population.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

More than 75 varieties of wine grapes grow in the High Plains Region.

Source: High Plains Winegrowers

Personal Income

Personal income in the High Plains Region rose from $21.4 billion in 2004 to $35.1 billion in 2014. It accounted for 3 percent of the state's $1.23 trillion in personal income in 2014.

Per capita personal income grew 52 percent, higher than the state's 47 percent average. It remains lower than the Texas average, although the gap has narrowed over the past four years. In 2014, the region's average per capita income was $40,741, compared to $45,669 statewide.

High Plains Region Income Highlights
County 2014 Per capita Income 10-Year Per Capita Income Growth
Hansford $75,035 104%
Hemphill $74,072 120%
Garza $69,782 205%
Sherman $65,049 89%
King $63,985 158%
Ochiltree $60,573 101%
Dallam $60,007 58%
Hartley $53,573 110%
Castro $52,974 54%
Wheeler $52,127 80%
Oldham $50,645 62%
Gray $47,461 68%
Parmer $46,800 90%
Lipscomb $46,304 60%
Cochran $45,610 60%
Roberts $45,578 42%
Bailey $44,960 81%
Carson $44,901 63%
Yoakum $44,554 48%
Armstrong $43,290 34%
Hockley $42,167 73%
Randall $41,938 39%
Briscoe $41,914 75%
Swisher $41,310 48%
Potter $40,706 58%
Deaf Smith $40,652 78%
Floyd $40,591 61%
Hutchinson $40,463 73%
Donley $39,130 38%
Lubbock $37,644 41%
Moore $37,604 59%
Collingsworth $37,409 19%
Lamb $36,248 48%
Motley $36,247 22%
Hall $36,054 71%
Terry $33,826 31%
Crosby $33,250 14%
Hale $31,143 37%
Lynn $31,026 5%
Dickens $29,421 447%
Childress $25,621 38%

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Per Capita Personal Income Growth, 2004-2014

  • Region: 52%
  • Texas: 47%
  • U.S.: 34%

Personal income in the High Plains Region rose from $21.4 billion in 2004 to $35.1 billion in 2014. It accounted for 3 percent of the state's $1.23 trillion in personal income in 2014.

Per capita income remains lower than the Texas average. In 2014, the region's average per capita income was $40,741, compared to $45,669 statewide.

Jobs and Wages

Job Growth, 2004-2014

  • Region: 11.4%
  • Texas: 21.7%
  • U.S.: 5.5%

The High Plains Region added more than 39,000 jobs from 2004 to 2014. Lubbock and Randall counties led total job growth, accounting for nearly 60 percent of net job increases in the 41-county region.

Employment in the Lubbock and Amarillo metropolitan statistical areas increased by 11.9 percent and 8.3 percent, respectively. Non-metropolitan county employment expanded by 13.9 percent.

Regional average wages were $40,899 in 2014, lower than the state average of $52,537.

Source: Economic Modeling Specialists, Intl.

Education

High Plains Region Public High School Graduates, 2014

  • Lubbock County: 29%
  • Potter County: 22%
  • Other Counties in High Plains Region: 49%

The High Plains Region had two independent school districts with more than 1,500 public high school graduates in 2014: Amarillo ISD had 1,847 graduates and Lubbock ISD had 1,537 graduates.

These two school districts accounted for 35.8 percent of all High Plains District public high school graduates in 2014. The majority of school districts had fewer than 100 graduates.

Lubbock is the only U.S. city with a university, health sciences center, agriculture college and law school in one location.

Source: Lubbock Economic Development Alliance

Health Care Access

Physicians in the High Plains Region face the unique challenge of providing health care access to an aging population across a vast and sparsely inhabited area.

The region has only 22 people per square mile and the share of the population age 65 and over exceeds the state average in nearly all of the region's counties. So, while demand for health care remains strong, providers are largely clustered in the region's two metropolitan centers, Amarillo and Lubbock, which account for 87 percent of the region's direct care physicians.

The region's level of physicians (per 100,000 residents) declined by 2.4 percent from 2007 to 2015, compared to a statewide increase of 13.2 percent. Moreover, the High Plains Region contains 11 of the state's 27 doctor-less counties. Trends do not indicate a change on the horizon – first-year residency positions at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center remained flat for fiscal years 2013 through 2015.

Percentage Change of Physicians per 100,000 Residents (Indexed to 2007)
Year High Plains Region Texas
2007 0.0% 0.0%
2008 0.9% 1.3%
2009 -1.7% 1.0%
2010 -0.9% 3.6%
2011 -1.5% 5.3%
2012 -2.2% 8.0%
2013 -2.2% 8.7%
2014 -4.4% 11.1%
2015 -2.4% 13.2%

Source: Texas Medical Board, Texas Department of State Health Services and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Conclusion

The High Plains Region, with its big sky and wide-open spaces, serves a key role in Texas agricultural production. With nine million acres devoted to agriculture in 2012, the region is home to what is known as the “nation's largest cotton patch.” It also helped pioneer the modern-day Texas wine industry and accounts for much of the state's livestock and ranching.

The High Plains also supports one of the state's largest public research universities, which boasts an agriculture college and both a medical and law school on the same campus.

Despite these strengths, the region maintains modest economic growth. Further more, rural physician access presents a challenge. The region must attract and retain enough physicians to provide adequate health care across the region's population.

Overall, the region's agricultural roots provide a firm foundation for future economic expansion.

Questions?

Contact the Comptroller's Data Analysis and Transparency Division at 800-531-5441, ext. 6-9231, or via email.