economy

Northwest Region Snapshot

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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 30 counties comprising the Northwest Region support some of the state's backbone industries — cattle, petroleum and cotton. They also house military operations and a burgeoning wind-energy sector.

Below, we track regional trends in population growth, personal income, jobs and wages, education and demographic challenges — a wildcard issue that, if left unaddressed, could curtail continued economic expansion.

Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Northwest Region Counties

  • Archer
  • Baylor
  • Brown
  • Callahan
  • Clay
  • Coleman
  • Comanche
  • Cottle
  • Eastland
  • Fisher
  • Foard
  • Hardeman
  • Haskell
  • Jack
  • Jones
  • Kent
  • Knox
  • Mitchell
  • Montague
  • Nolan
  • Runnels
  • Scurry
  • Shackelford
  • Stephens
  • Stonewall
  • Taylor
  • Throckmorton
  • Wichita
  • Wilbarger
  • Young

Wichita Falls and Abilene, the Northwest Region's two largest cities, both house air force bases.

Key Industries 2016

  • Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing
  • Health Care and Social Assistance
  • Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing
  • Oil and Gas Extraction
  • Animal Production
  • Plastics and Rubber Product Manufacturing
  • Support Activities for Mining
  • Support Activities for Agriculture and Forestry
  • Transportation Equipment Manufacturing
  • Truck Transportation

Population Growth

Northwest Region vs. Texas and U.S., 2004-2014

  • Region: 1%
  • Texas: 20%
  • U.S.: 9%

The median age of the Northwest region in 2010: 37.5.

The median age of Texas: 33.6.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

The total estimated value of 2013 beef production in the Northwest Region was $527 million.

Source: Texas A&M Agrilife Extension

Personal Income

Personal income in the Northwest Region rose from $14.6 billion in 2004 to $23.4 billion in 2014. It accounted for 2 percent of the state's $1.23 trillion in personal income in 2014.

Northwest Region Income Highlights
County 2014 Per Capita Income 10-Year Per Capita Income Growth
Shackelford $97,227 220%
Eastland $68,513 156%
Cottle $56,269 49%
Stephens $53,179 119%
Archer $52,139 67%
Stonewall $52,132 72%
Scurry $51,998 90%
Throckmorton $51,935 46%
Young $51,473 90%
Clay $49,808 92%
Montague $49,513 94%
Jack $47,543 126%
Kent $44,827 49%
Fisher $42,920 63%
Taylor $42,318 50%
Baylor $41,473 51%
Foard $40,967 61%
Wichita $40,593 38%
Comanche $39,449 44%
Knox $39,229 33%
Wilbarger $39,075 47%
Hardeman $37,222 54%
Nolan $36,501 52%
Haskell $36,268 32%
Runnels $36,152 51%
Callahan $36,138 57%
Coleman $35,709 56%
Brown $32,743 45%
Mitchell $31,964 72%
Jones $28,720 42%

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

Per Capita Personal Income Growth, 2004-2014

  • Region: 58%
  • Texas: 47%
  • U.S.: 34%

Per capita personal income grew 58 percent, faster than the state's 47 percent average.

Source: U.S. Economic Bureau and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Jobs and Wages

Job Growth, 2004-2014

  • Region: 4.3%
  • Texas: 21.7%
  • U.S.: 5.5%

Taylor County added 5,836 jobs — nearly two-thirds of the region's net gains — from 2004 to 2014.

Bolstered by jobs in support activities for mining and oil and gas extraction, Shackelford, Scurry and Jack counties had the largest percentage of growth in both employment and average wages. Nearly half the counties lost jobs over the period, however.

The region's 2014 average wage was $39,169.

Education

Northwest Region Public High School Graduates, 2008-2012

  Total Graduates
Year Northwest Region Texas
2003 6,487 222,021
2004 6,134 229,133
2005 5,991  
2006 6,125  
2007 6,118  
2008 6,152  
2009 6,171  
2010 6,547  
2011 5,903  
2012 5,753  
2013 5,880  
2014 5,862 294,240

The Northwest Region had 607 fewer public high school graduates in 2013 than in 2003, a decrease of 9.4 percent.

While the total number of graduates declined, the percentage of students who graduated actually increased at a faster pace than the state average from 2010-2012.

Source: Texas Education Agency

Wichita Falls' Sheppard Air Force Base is the only one in the U.S. offering both technical and aviation training.

Source: Sheppard Air Force Base

Demographic Challenges

The Northwest Region is both the least populous region and one of the state's slowest growing. From 2003 to 2013, its population expanded only 1.3 percent, while Texas' rose by 20 percent.

This slow growth could presage workforce troubles, given the large share of workers who are nearing retirement in some of the region's strongest industries.

Animal production operations offer a prime example. The Northwest Region has a dense concentration of these jobs, and 31 percent of these workers are at least 55 years old.

Another industry provides a brighter picture, however. Support activities for mining is a relatively young industry and enjoyed the region's largest job gains over the decade.

Northwest Region Job Types by Age Group and Industry Concentration, 2013
NAICS Description 14-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+
112 Animal Production and Aquaculture 10% 18% 18% 23% 20% 11%
327 Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing 4% 14% 27% 30% 22% 2%
326 Plastics and Rubber Products Manufacturing 6% 19% 24% 30% 18% 2%
213 Support Activities for Mining 13% 29% 24% 20% 11% 3%
115 Support Activities for Agriculture and Forestry 8% 17% 18% 27% 23% 8%
491 Postal Service 24% 12% 12% 27% 12% 12%
331 Primary Metal Manufacturing 10% 15% 21% 26% 21% 7%
623 Nursing and Residential Care Facilities 15% 22% 20% 22% 16% 5%
447 Gasoline Stations 23% 21% 19% 19% 13% 4%
314 Textile Product Mills 7% 19% 29% 24% 16% 5%
515 Broadcasting (except Internet) 16% 29% 20% 22% 10% 3%
336 Transportation Equipment Manufacturing 6% 16% 23% 31% 19% 4%
902 State Government 10% 20% 22% 24% 18% 5%
111 Crop Production 8% 16% 15% 26% 22% 13%
221 Utilities 4% 16% 17% 35% 23% 4%
211 Oil and Gas Extraction 9% 21% 15% 24% 22% 9%
212 Mining (except Oil and Gas) 6% 21% 20% 27% 20% 5%
903 Local Government 7% 20% 24% 25% 18% 6%
533 Lessors of Nonfinancial Intangible Assets 12% 23% 18% 24% 17% 6%
452 General Merchandise Stores 24% 20% 16% 19% 14% 6%

Conclusion

The Northwest Region supports bedrock Texas industries such as farming, ranching and oil and gas production. It has a strong military presence and, in recent years, has become known for the wind turbines that dot its wide-open vistas.

Although the region recently suffered through one of the state's most severe droughts, per capita income surged ahead of the state's average. Yet job gains have varied dramatically by county. Slow population growth also could create difficulties for some industries.

In all, the region has a diverse economy with some high-growth areas that have produced employment opportunities for workers.

Questions?

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