economy

South 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 28 counties comprising the South Region cover a sizeable portion of the Gulf Coast and the Mexico border and offer a young, growing workforce.

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

Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

South Region Counties

  • Aransas
  • Bee
  • Brooks
  • Cameron
  • Dimmit
  • Duval
  • Edwards
  • Hidalgo
  • Jim Hogg
  • Jim Wells
  • Kenedy
  • Kinney
  • Kleberg
  • La Salle
  • Live Oak
  • Maverick
  • McMullen
  • Nueces
  • Real
  • Refugio
  • San Patricio
  • Starr
  • Uvalde
  • Val Verde
  • Webb
  • Willacy
  • Zapata
  • Zavala

Hispanics comprise more than 84 percent of the South Region's population.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Key Industries 2016

  • Federal Government
  • Health Care and Social Assistance
  • Leather and Allied Product Manufacturing
  • Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing
  • Support Activities for Agriculture and Forestry
  • Truck Transportation

Population Growth

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

  • Region: 17%
  • Texas: 20%
  • U.S.: 9%

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

The South Region accounted for 11 percent of all births in Texas since 2009 but only 9 percent of the total population.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

The SpaceX facility in Brownsville is expected to create 300 jobs and generate $85 million in capital investment.

Source: Brownsville Economic Development Council

Personal Income

Personal income in the South Region rose from $40.7 billion in 2004 to $70.3 billion in 2014. It accounted for 6 percent of the state's $1.23 trillion in personal income in 2014.

South Region Income Highlights
County 2014 Per Capita Income 10-Year Per Capita Income Growth
McMullen $71,176 80%
Kenedy $56,300 81%
Dimmit $48,078 171%
La Salle $45,591 193%
Refugio $45,306 58%
Live Oak $44,484 105%
Aransas $43,292 61%
Jim Wells $42,782 80%
Nueces $42,439 52%
Duval $39,800 97%
Edwards $39,359 56%
San Patricio $38,920 60%
Brooks $36,606 88%
Kleberg $34,148 48%
Uvalde $34,086 50%
Jim Hogg $33,296 38%
Val Verde $33,017 48%
Zapata $32,037 89%
Kinney $30,314 35%
Bee $29,203 68%
Webb $28,355 47%
Real $27,896 38%
Maverick $25,490 69%
Willacy $25,480 43%
Cameron $25,211 40%
Zavala $23,952 63%
Hidalgo $23,753 41%
Starr $23,215 76%

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

Per Capita Personal Income Growth, 2004-2014

  • Region: 48%
  • Texas: 47%
  • U.S.: 34%

Per capita personal income grew 48 percent, slightly faster than the state's 47 percent average.

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

Jobs and Wages

Job Growth, 2004-2014

  • Region: 20.1%
  • Texas: 21.7%
  • U.S.: 5.5%

Source: Economic Modeling Specialists Intl.

The South Region added more than 138,600 jobs from 2004 to 2014, led by Hidalgo County. Its 26 percent job growth accounted for 37 percent of the region's net new jobs.

The region's average annual wages didn't grow so quickly, however. At $36,465, wages trailed the Texas average by more than 30 percent in 2014.

Education

South Region Public High School Graduates, 2014

  • Hidalgo County: 37%
  • Cameron County: 20%
  • Other Counties in South Region: 43%

While the South Region makes up 9 percent of the Texas population, it accounts for 11 percent of the state's public high school graduates.

The number of graduates grew by 9,260 (41.6 percent) from 2003 to 2012. Only the Metroplex Region saw a larger percent increase.

Portions of the South Region experienced rapid growth in school-age populations. In nine counties, under-18 residents made up 30 percent or more of the population in 2014.

Source: Texas Education Agency

Water

Demand for water already exceeds available supply in much of the South Region. This fact could hinder economic and demographic growth in the region, given that projections show a regional water shortage of 29 percent by 2060. Water demand will continue to rise, regardless of whether new water sources develop in this fast-growing region.

While irrigation accounts for the majority of water demand in the South Region, needs vary substantially by county. Val Verde and Aransas counties, for example, used their water primarily for municipal purposes. Willacy and Kenedy counties, however, used more than 80 percent of their water for irrigation and livestock, respectively.

Projected Water Supply vs. Demand 2010-2060
Year Total Water Supply Total Water Demand
2010 1,564,701 1,921,548
2020 1,567,215 1,927,396
2030 1,567,716 1,910,750
2040 1,564,128 1,998,670
2050 1,557,792 2,092,849
2060 1,551,953 2,192,713

Source: Texas Water Development Board and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Conclusion

The South Region is one of Texas' fastest growing and most diverse. It overlies a portion of the Eagle Ford Shale that has helped fuel the state's energy resurgence. It also serves as a hub for shipping, farming and manufacturing. Meanwhile, tourists flock to shoreline destinations such as Corpus Christi and South Padre Island.

The region offers a dynamic workforce. Both birth and graduation rates top state averages. It has also added jobs at a faster rate than Texas as a whole, though wages lag significantly behind the state average.

Rapid growth, coupled with drought conditions, has strained the region's water supplies. Thriving cities, agriculture and mining helped drive Texas' largest consumption increase over the past decade.

In all, the region offers much promise. It will remain relatively young and culturally dynamic while supporting some of Texas' key industries.

Questions?

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