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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

The High Plains Region2018 Regional Report

The 41-county High Plains Region covers about 39,500 square miles in north Texas, stretching from the Oklahoma state line on the east and north, to the New Mexico state line on the west, to the Lubbock metro area on the south.

The High Plains Region includes two metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs): the Amarillo MSA, comprising the counties of Armstrong, Carson, Oldham, Potter and Randall, and the Lubbock MSA, comprising the counties of Crosby, Lubbock and Lynn. Counties in the region not associated with an MSA are Bailey, Briscoe, Castro, Childress, Cochran, Collingsworth, Dallam, Deaf Smith, Dickens, Donley, Floyd, Garza, Gray, Hale, Hall, Hansford, Hartley, Hemphill, Hockley, Hutchinson, King, Lamb, Lipscomb, Moore, Motley, Ochiltree, Parmer, Roberts, Sherman, Swisher, Terry, Wheeler and Yoakum. The High Plains Region has two large focus areas in the cities of Lubbock (Lubbock County) and Amarillo (Potter and Randall counties). The Lubbock MSA has a population of about 317,000, and the Amarillo MSA has a population of about 265,000.

This report examines regional economic trends including population, personal income, jobs and wages, and education, as well as economic conditions unique to the High Plains Region.

Population

The High Plains Region’s estimated total population in 2017 was 873,000, or more than 3 percent of the state’s total population. This is an increase of about 4 percent (more than 33,000 people) since the 2010 census. An estimated 35 percent of the region’s population is concentrated in Lubbock County. The Lubbock MSA accounted for 36 percent of the region’s population and about 1 percent of the state’s population.

From 2010 to 2017, the region’s population grew at a slower pace than the state as a whole (Exhibit 1). While some counties’ populations decreased, others increased during this period. Randall County outpaced all others, growing by more than 11 percent – on par with the state as a whole.

Exhibit 1: High Plains Region Population by County,
2010 and 2017
County 2010 Census Estimate (as of July 2017) Percent Change
Armstrong 1,901 1,879 -1.2%
Bailey 7,165 7,077 -1.2%
Briscoe 1,637 1,528 -6.7%
Carson 6,182 6,032 -2.4%
Castro 8,062 7,843 -2.7%
Childress 7,041 7,067 0.4%
Cochran 3,127 2,851 -8.8%
Collingsworth 3,057 2,987 -2.3%
Crosby 6,059 5,899 -2.6%
Dallam 6,703 7,208 7.5%
Deaf Smith 19,372 18,836 -2.8%
Dickens 2,444 2,209 -9.6%
Donley 3,677 3,311 -10.0%
Floyd 6,446 5,855 -9.2%
Garza 6,461 6,528 1.0%
Gray 22,535 22,404 -0.6%
Hale 36,273 34,134 -5.9%
Hall 3,353 3,071 -8.4%
Hansford 5,613 5,447 -3.0%
Hartley 6,062 5,691 -6.1%
Hemphill 3,807 4,024 5.7%
Hockley 22,935 23,088 0.7%
Hutchinson 22,150 21,375 -3.5%
King 286 296 3.5%
Lamb 13,977 13,210 -5.5%
Lipscomb 3,302 3,378 2.3%
Lubbock 278,831 305,225 9.5%
Lynn 5,915 5,859 -0.9%
Moore 21,904 22,097 0.9%
Motley 1,210 1,230 1.7%
Ochiltree 10,223 10,073 -1.5%
Oldham 2,052 2,114 3.0%
Parmer 10,269 9,842 -4.2%
Potter 121,073 120,458 -0.5%
Randall 120,725 134,442 11.4%
Roberts 929 938 1.0%
Sherman 3,034 3,067 1.1%
Swisher 7,854 7,515 -4.3%
Terry 12,651 12,715 0.5%
Wheeler 5,410 5,358 -1.0%
Yoakum 7,879 8,568 8.7%
High Plains Region Total 839,586 872,729 3.9%
Amarillo MSA 251,933 264,925 5.2%
Lubbock MSA 290,805 316,983 9.0%
Texas Total 25,145,561 28,304,596 12.6%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau


Population Composition

According to a recent Census analysis, the median age for the High Plains Region’s counties is on par with the state as a whole. Only 19 of the region’s 41 counties have a median age significantly higher than the state’s median age of 34.2 years, with Motley being the “oldest” county in the region with a median age approaching 49 years. On the other hand, five counties have a median age significantly lower than the state, including Lubbock (the most populous county in the region – median age of 30.6). The Amarillo MSA had a median age on par with the state, and the Lubbock MSA was significantly “younger” than the state.

Household income in Texas is more or less evenly distributed among five income levels. Of the more than 9 million households within the state of Texas, 22 percent have incomes less than $25,000, and 16 percent have incomes greater than $125,000. In every region in the state, nearly 18 percent of households have an average income between $50,000 and $75,000. Household income in the High Plains Region tended to be lower than the state (Exhibit 2). Only 29.5 percent of the region’s households have incomes greater than $75,000 versus 36.3 percent for the state, indicating potentially less household wealth than the state average.

More than 36 percent of the High Plains Region’s total population is Hispanic – slightly more than 2 percent lower than the state’s 38.6 percent Hispanic population (Exhibit 3).

Exhibit 2: High Plains Region and Texas Household Income

Exhibit 2: Household Income Percentile, High Plains Region vs. Texas
Income Level High Plains Region State Total
less than $25,000 24.6% 22.2%
$25,000 to $50,000 27.2% 23.6%
$50,000 to $75,000 18.6% 17.8%
$75,000 to $125,000 18.7% 20.2%
more than $125,000 10.9% 16.1%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Exhibit 3: High Plains Region and Texas Population by Race and Ethnicity, 2017

Population by Race and Ethnicity, High Plains Region vs. Texas
Race and Ethnicity High Plains Region State Total
Hispanic 36.5% 38.6%
Black (not Hispanic) 5.1% 11.6%
White (not Hispanic) 54.3% 43.4%
Other 4.1% 6.3%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau


Jobs and Wages

In 2017, the High Plains Region accounted for more than 3 percent of the state’s total employment. The region’s employment increased by more than 7 percent from 2007 to 2017. Employment in the Lubbock MSA increased by approximately 14.4 percent over the same period, nearly double the regional growth (Exhibit 4). More than 31 percent of the region’s total jobs are in the Amarillo MSA, and more than 38 percent are in the Lubbock MSA.

Exhibit 4: High Plains Region Employment, 2007 to 2017
Area Number of Jobs, 2017 Change in Jobs from 2007 Percent Change
Amarillo MSA 114,748 5,118 4.7%
Lubbock MSA 142,178 17,886 14.4%
High Plains Region, Total 369,554 25,165 7.3%
Texas 12,011,078 1,779,177 17.4%
United States 143,860,846 8,495,037 6.3%

Note: The above 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 Bureau of Labor Statistics


The average wage in the High Plains Region was $43,650 in 2017, well below the state and national averages. However, from 2007 to 2017, individual wage growth in the region outpaced individual wage growth at the state and national levels during the same period (Exhibit 5). Adjusted for inflation, individual wages in the High Plains Region increased almost 9 percent during this period. Within the region, the Amarillo MSA average wage was slightly higher than the region, and the Lubbock MSA saw wage growth from 2007 to 2017 that was slightly higher than the region as a whole.

Exhibit 5: High Plains Region Wage Trends, 2007 to 2017
Area Average Wage, 2017 Change in Wages from 2007 Nominal Rate of Change, 2007 to 2017 Real Rate of Change,* 2007 to 2017
Amarillo MSA $44,892 $9,381 26.4% 6.9%
Lubbock MSA $42,243 $9,554 29.2% 9.3%
High Plains Region, Total $43,650 $9,669 28.5% 8.7%
Texas $55,801 $11,106 24.9% 5.6%
United States $55,375 $10,917 24.6% 5.4%

* The constant or “real” rate adjusts average wages for the effects of inflation in the value of a particular base year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices in 2017 are 18.22 percent higher than prices in 2007.

Sources: JobsEQ and Bureau of Labor Statistics


Industry Concentration

Exhibit 6 lists the High Plains Region industry subsectors most highly concentrated according to location quotient (LQ) — a measure of how concentrated an industry is in the region relative to the nation — and by share of total state jobs in each subsector. Industries are described according to the federal government’s North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), which is used by federal statistical agencies to classify business establishments.

The High Plains Region’s most highly concentrated industries primarily center around agriculture and agriculture processing and the transportation of natural resources. The animal production and aquaculture subsector is the region’s highest concentrated industry.

Exhibit 6: High Plains Region’s Most Highly Concentrated Industries, 2007 to 2017
Industry Description (NAICS1) Job Concentration Job Trends Wage Trends
Location Quotient2 Share of State's Jobs Number of Jobs Change, 2007 to 2017 Average Wage Nominal Rate3 of Change Real Rate3 of Change, 2007 to 2017
Animal Production and Aquaculture (112) 13.00 35.1% 8,957 29.2% $38,862 31.5% 11.2%
Oil and Gas Extraction (211) 9.78 4.9% 3,682 37.1% $115,719 24.8% 5.6%
Support Activities for Mining (213) 7.26 4.2% 5,608 -15.5% $69,309 20.8% 2.2%
Leather and Allied Product Manufacturing (316) 5.27 9.1% 389 167.2% $40,608 16.9% -1.1%
Rail Transportation (482) 4.07 14.0% 10 n/a $26,404 n/a n/a
Pipeline Transportation (486) 4.04 2.8% 532 59.8% $179,640 58.7% 34.3%
Food Manufacturing (311) 3.47 15.5% 14,460 2.3% $37,073 23.3% 4.3%
Crop Production (111) 3.32 23.0% 4,830 4.5% $34,899 66.2% 40.6%
Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing (324) 2.89 3.7% 855 -29.5% $151,502 -11.4% -25.0%
Support Activities for Agriculture and Forestry (115) 2.76 24.0% 2,762 -10.9% $43,171 36.7% 15.6%
High Plains Region - 3.1% 369,554 7.3% $47,863 28.3% 8.7%

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

  1. NAICS codes are the standard used by federal statistical agencies in classifying business establishments for the purpose of collecting, analyzing and publishing statistical data related to the U.S. business economy.
  2. The higher the location quotient, the more concentrated the industry subsector is in the region compared to nation.
  3. The constant or “real” rate adjusts average wages for the effects of inflation in the value of a particular base year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices in 2017 were 18.22 percent higher than prices in 2007.

Sources: JobsEQ and Bureau of Labor Statistics


Education

A strong educational foundation is the cornerstone for growth and competitiveness in the global economy. As the Texas economy diversifies, becoming more knowledge based, a well-educated workforce offers possibilities for workplace advancement and prospects for business expansion.

In 2016, 91.3 percent of the High Plains Region’s class of public high school students graduated, slightly lower than the state’s rate of 89.1 percent (Exhibit 7). The region’s high school graduation rate has increased almost 5 percent since 2010 and has regularly tracked the state’s rate.

Many high school graduates enroll in postsecondary programs, offering greater job prospects and the possibility to of earning higher wages. Residents of the High Plains Region enjoy a variety of options for higher educational achievement (Exhibit 8).

Exhibit 7: High Plains Region and Texas Public High School Graduation Rates, 2010 to 2016
Year High Plains Texas
2010 86.1% 84.3%
2011 87.4% 85.9%
2012 89.0% 87.7%
2013 88.9% 88.0%
2014 89.8% 88.3%
2015 90.6% 89.0%
2016 91.3% 89.1%

Source: Texas Education Agency


Exhibit 8: High Plains Region Institutions of Higher Education, 2017

Universities

  • Lubbock Christian University
  • Texas Tech University
  • Wayland Baptist University
  • West Texas A&M University

Junior and Community Colleges

  • Amarillo College
  • Clarendon College
  • Frank Phillips College
  • South Plains College

Health Science Schools

  • Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

Source: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

Regional Economy

The Comptroller's office has analyzed data pertaining to the High Plains Region, examining the region’s dynamics and competitiveness.

Sales Tax Revenue

Sales receipts subject to state sales tax directly attributable to the High Plains Region trended upward in the past decade (trend lines depict trends in data – either upward, downward or flat – for an extended period of time). The region had a significant climb following the 2009 recession with a peak in 2014 (Exhibit 9).

While there has been a decline since 2014, receipts from 2017 indicate taxable sales leveling off. For 2017, receipts subject to state sales tax directly attributed to businesses in the High Plains Region exceeded $10.2 billion, contributing about 2.1 percent to the state’s overall sales tax revenue collected. The Amarillo MSA directly accounted for $3.5 billion of this total, and the Lubbock MSA directly accounted for $4.2 billion.

A review of two-digit NAICS codes allows for a broad analysis of industry sectors within the region. The retail trade and the food services and accommodation sectors contribute most to taxable sales, with the two combining for more than 66 percent of the region’s state sales tax contributions. Two other industries of note are the wholesale trade and information sectors, combining for 14 percent of the region’s reported sales tax contributions.

Exhibit 9: Revenue Subject to Sales Tax, 2007 to 2017
Year High Plains Region
2007 $8,242,402,803
2008 $9,110,526,831
2009 $8,101,079,180
2010 $8,382,057,874
2011 $9,084,260,880
2012 $10,013,530,403
2013 $10,455,207,923
2014 $10,995,788,789
2015 $10,344,671,467
2016 $10,070,340,326
2017 $10,219,806,956

Note: Numbers shown are for reported revenue subject to sales tax and directly attributed to the region.

Source: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts


U.S. Military Installation Impact

Texas has 13 U.S. military installations within its borders. In 2017, these bases directly employed more than 224,000 and supported nearly 625,000 jobs. The U.S. military installations in Texas contributed about $62.3 billion to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP).

While there are no bases located within the High Plains Region, it has been determined that bases within the state have an indirect positive impact there, whether through transport, suppliers or logistics.


High Plains Region vs. the U.S.

Based on data from the World Bank and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, if Texas were a nation, it would rank as the world’s 10th largest economy in terms of GDP.

Exhibit 10 shows how the region ranks with other states and the nation on a number of demographic and economic measures. The High Plains Region would be the 38th largest state in terms of land mass (square miles) and have the 46th largest population. The region would also have the 12th lowest unemployment rate (for 2017) among the states.

Exhibit 10: High Plains Region Compared to the U.S.
Measure High Plains Region Rank if Region
was a State
Texas State Rank U.S.
Population 872,729 46 28,304,596 2 325,719,178
Age 25+ with at least a High School Diploma 81.3% 51 82.4% 49 87.0%
Age 25+ with Bachelor's Degree or Higher 21.7% 48 28.1% 29 30.3%
Population Under 18 Years 25.7% 4 26.0% 2 22.6%
Population 65 Years and Over 13.5% 47 12.3% 48 15.7%
Age Dependency Ratio* 64.5% 35 62.1% 20 61.9%
Per Capita Income $40,997 42 $46,204 25 $49,204
Unemployment Rate 3.4% 12 4.3% 26 4.4%

* The age dependency ratio is the share of dependent-age persons compared to the working-age population minus the sum of those under 18 years and 65 and older divided by the population age 18 to 64. In other words, for every 100 working-age people in Texas there are about 62 dependent-age people.

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


Conclusion

The High Plains Region is a microcosm of the state; it is mostly rural with some urban areas, offering a vibrant and diverse economy. Potter and Lubbock counties, with the cities of Amarillo and Lubbock at their centers, respectively, are the economic cores of the region.

As this report notes, the High Plains Region and its 41 counties have many economic variables and challenges that are unique. The High Plains Region’s median age is on par with Texas; however, Lubbock County – the region’s most populous county – is significantly younger than the state as a whole. The high school graduation rate in the region is above the state average, and about 27 percent of the population is under 18 years of age.

Individual wages in the region are below the state’s average, but wages are increasing at a faster pace than the state average. The region’s local economy peaked in 2014, falling off since. However, sales receipts subject to state sales tax in 2017 indicate the local economy is regaining its upward trend. These economic factors combined with the agriculture industry’s large footprint in the region differentiate the High Plains regional economy.


Questions?

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

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