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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 West Texas Region2020 Regional Report

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

The 30-county West Texas region covers about 39,800 square miles in western Texas, stretching from the cities of Mason and Brady on the east to the Rio Grande just south of Dryden and north to the city of Seminole.

The West Texas region contains three metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs): The Midland MSA, comprising the counties of Martin and Midland; the Odessa MSA, comprising Ector County; and the San Angelo MSA, comprising Irion and Tom Green counties. Counties in the region not associated with an MSA include Andrews, Borden, Coke, Concho, Crane, Crockett, Dawson, Gaines, Glasscock, Howard, Kimble, Loving, Mason, McCulloch, Menard, Pecos, Reagan, Reeves, Schleicher, Sterling, Sutton, Terrell, Upton, Ward and Winkler counties. The West Texas region’s two largest economic centers are the cities of Midland (in Midland County) and Odessa (in Ector County).

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

Population

The West Texas region’s estimated total population in 2019 was approximately 660,000, or about 2.3 percent of the state’s total population. This represented an increase of almost 16 percent (more than 90,000 people) since the 2010 Census. An estimated 25 percent of the region’s population lives in Ector County; 27 percent lives in Midland County.

From 2010 to 2019, the region’s population growth was on par with that of the state (Exhibit 1). Midland County, the region’s most populous, grew by 29 percent, almost twice as fast as the state.

Exhibit 1
West Texas Region Population by County, 2010 and 2019
County 2010 Census Estimate
(as of July 2019)
Change 2010 to 2019 Percent Change
Andrews 14,786 18,705 3,919 26.5%
Borden 641 654 13 2.0%
Coke 3,320 3,387 67 2.0%
Concho 4,087 2,726 -1,361 -33.3%
Crane 4,375 4,797 422 9.6%
Crockett 3,719 3,464 -255 -6.9%
Dawson 13,833 12,728 -1,105 -8.0%
Ector 137,130 166,223 29,093 21.2%
Gaines 17,526 21,492 3,966 22.6%
Glasscock 1,226 1,409 183 14.9%
Howard 35,012 36,664 1,652 4.7%
Irion 1,599 1,536 -63 -3.9%
Kimble 4,607 4,337 -270 -5.9%
Loving 82 169 87 106.1%
Martin 4,799 5,771 972 20.3%
Mason 4,012 4,274 262 6.5%
McCulloch 8,283 7,984 -299 -3.6%
Menard 2,242 2,138 -104 -4.6%
Midland 136,872 176,832 39,960 29.2%
Pecos 15,507 15,823 316 2.0%
Reagan 3,367 3,849 482 14.3%
Reeves 13,783 15,976 2,193 15.9%
Schleicher 3,461 2,793 -668 -19.3%
Sterling 1,143 1,291 148 12.9%
Sutton 4,128 3,776 -352 -8.5%
Terrell 984 776 -208 -21.1%
Tom Green 110,224 119,200 8,976 8.1%
Upton 3,355 3,657 302 9.0%
Ward 10,658 11,998 1,340 12.6%
Winkler 7,110 8,010 900 12.7%
Midland MSA 141,671 182,603 40,932 28.9%
Odessa MSA 137,130 166,223 29,093 21.2%
West Texas Region Total 571,871 662,439 90,568 15.8%
Texas Total 25,145,56128,995,8813,850,32015.3%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau


Population Composition

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey, the median age of the West Texas region’s counties is slightly lower than that of the state. Five of the region’s 30 counties had median ages significantly lower than the state’s 2018 median age of 34.2 years. Two of the region’s counties — Kimble (54.5 years) and Loving (58.2 years) — had among the “oldest” populations in the state, while Gaines County, at 28.4 years, was one of the “youngest.” But the region’s most populous counties had median ages roughly at or below the state’s; the Midland and Odessa MSAs also had median ages significantly lower than the state median.

The West Texas region’s Hispanic population made up 47.6 percent of the region total in 2018 — 9 percentage points higher than the state’s 38.6 percent Hispanic population share (Exhibit 2). The region’s 4.2 percent black (not Hispanic) population was more than 7 percentage points lower than the state’s black (non-Hispanic) population share of 11.6 percent.

Household Income

The West Texas region had a median household income of  $62,171 in 2018. 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 in 2018, while 17 percent had incomes greater than $125,000. In every region in the state, nearly 18 percent of households had average incomes between $50,000 and $75,000. The West Texas region’s 2018 household income was on par with the state in all income categories.

Exhibit 2
West Texas Region Population by Race and Ethnicity, 2018
Ethnicity West Texas Region State Total
Hispanic 47.6% 38.6%
Black (not Hispanic) 4.2% 11.6%
White (not Hispanic) 45.6% 43.4%
Other 2.6% 6.3%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Exhibit 3
West Texas Region and Texas Household Income Percentile, 2018
Income Level West Texas Region State Total
less than $25,000 19.4% 21.1%
$25,000 to $50,000 23.5% 23.0%
$50,000 to $75,000 18.1% 17.9%
$75,000 to $125,000 22.2% 20.6%
more than $125,000 16.8% 17.4%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau


Regional Industries

In 2019, the West Texas region accounted for about 2.5 percent of the state’s total employment. 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 West Texas region is a leader in support activities for mining, oil and gas extraction and pipeline transportation, making its employment heavily reliant on the energy sector.

Exhibit 4
Top 10 West Texas Region Industries, 2019
Occupation LQ Number Employed Average Annual Wages
Support Activities for Mining 60.71 45,640 $94,157
Oil and Gas Extraction 41.99 13,207 $153,349
Pipeline Transportation 12.54 1,395 $130,558
Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction 4.08 10,962 $76,283
Mining (Except Oil and Gas) 3.65 1,513 $79,978
Rental and Leasing Services 3.56 4,455 $85,990
Truck Transportation 2.99 9,886 $74,228
Gasoline Stations 2.20 4,475 $35,410
Fishing, Hunting and Trapping 2.13 40 $30,503
Lessors of Nonfinancial Intangible Assets (Except Copyrighted Works) 2.11 106 $85,717
Total - All Industries 0.99 317,595 $65,301

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


U.S. Military Installation Impact

Texas has 14 U.S. military installations within its borders. In 2019, these bases directly employed more than 226,000 and supported nearly 634,000 jobs in all. In addition, the U.S. military installations in Texas contributed an estimated $75.3 billion annually to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP). Goodfellow Air Force Base, the only military installation within the West Texas region, had a significant positive impact on the Texas economy, supporting an estimated 21,000 jobs in 2019 and contributing about $2.7 billion to the state’s GDP (Exhibit 5).

Exhibit 5
U.S. Military Impact on the West Texas Region Estimated 2019
Region Total Jobs Supported Contribution to State GDP
West Texas 21,410 $2.7 billion
State of Texas 633,892 $75.3 billion

Sources: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Texas Military Preparedness Commission and REMI

Learn more about the impact of U.S. military installations on the state’s economy.


Jobs and Wages

The West Texas region’s employment rose by almost 36 percent from 2009 to 2019, far exceeding employment growth in the state. Employment in the Midland MSA rose by nearly 62 percent over the same period, while the Odessa MSA grew by more than 37 percent (Exhibit 6). During this decade, the Midland MSA had the state’s fastest-growing job market. More than 34 percent of the region’s jobs were in the Midland MSA; nearly 26 percent were in the Odessa MSA.

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Exhibit 6
West Texas Region Employment Trends, 2019
Area Number of Jobs (2019) Actual Change (2009 to 2019) Percent Change (2009 to 2019)
Midland MSA 110,271 42,177 61.9%
Odessa MSA 81,933 22,196 37.2%
West Texas Region 317,112 83,515 35.8%
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 West Texas region’s most significant occupations are shown in Exhibits 7 and 8, first by location quotient and second by numeric growth during the last five years.

Exhibit 7
Top Occupations in the West Texas Region by Location Quotient, 2014 to 2019
Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Wages LQ Unemployment Rate Five-Year Employment Change
Extraction Workers 19,185 $45,700 38.86 3.3% 3,581
Supervisors of Construction and Extraction Workers 5,173 $79,600 3.58 2.0% 1,388
Plant and System Operators 1,889 $62,600 2.79 0.5% -36
Other Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations 1,045 $68,700 2.64 1.6% 379
Physical Scientists 1,211 $144,800 2.15 1.4% 72

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

Source: JobsEQ


Exhibit 8
Top Occupations in the West Texas Region by Numeric Growth, 2014 to 2019
Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Wages LQ Unemployment Rate Five-Year Employment Change
Construction Trades Workers 19,761 $42,600 1.60 3.9% 4,389
Motor Vehicle Operators 16,432 $43,500 1.65 2.0% 3,760
Extraction Workers 19,185 $45,700 38.86 3.3% 3,581
Food and Beverage Serving Workers 16,717 $21,300 1.00 4.2% 2,333
Material Moving Workers 11,566 $37,100 1.05 3.8% 1,610

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


Education

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, West Texas 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 $3,331 more annually than those with a high school degree, while those with at least a bachelor’s degree earned an average of $18,321 more (Exhibit 9).

Exhibit 9
Average Annual Earnings by Educational Attainment, West Texas 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 58,851 20.7% $46,649 2,065,483 17.1% $42,808
High School or Equivalent, No College 72,493 25.5% $54,196 2,765,759 22.9% $52,035
Some College or Associate Degree 76,276 26.9% $57,527 3,245,675 26.9% $60,428
Bachelor’s Degree or Advanced Degree 39,251 13.8% $72,517 2,454,975 20.3% $95,716
Educational Attainment Unavailable 36,963 13.0% $30,065 1,544,282 12.8% $22,087
Total 283,835 $54,379 12,076,174 $58,787

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau and JobsEQ

The West Texas region’s high school graduation rate has risen steadily since 2010. During the 2017-18 school year, 88.4 percent of the region’s class of public senior high school students graduated, lower than the state’s rate of 90 percent (Exhibit 10).

Exhibit 10
West Texas Region Public High School Graduation Rates, 2009-10 to 2017-18 School Year
Region2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
West Texas 80.8% 81.7% 83.9% 83.0% 84.7% 85.8% 87.4% 88.6% 88.4%
Texas 84.3% 85.9% 87.7% 88.0% 88.3% 89.0% 89.1% 89.7% 90.0%

Sources: 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 West Texas region have several options for higher educational achievement (Exhibit 11).

Exhibit 11 West Texas Region Institutions of Higher Education

Universities

  • Angelo State University
  • The University of Texas of the Permian Basin

Junior and Community Colleges

  • Howard College
  • Midland College
  • Odessa College

Source: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board


The West Texas region’s three community college districts provided technical and academic coursework for more than 16,000 students in the 2017-18 school year (Exhibit 12).

Exhibit 12
West Texas 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*
Howard County Junior College District 4,565 628 $2,560 59.6% 40.4% 84.0% 89.5%
Midland College 5,259 863 $2,670 70.7% 29.3% 89.9% 91.6%
Odessa College 6,571 1,245 $2,730 68.3% 31.7% 90.0% 92.0%

*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


Community colleges in the West Texas region awarded more than 1,200 certificates and associate degrees in general studies and liberal arts in the 2017-18 school year; the next most common awards were for health professions, business administration and marketing (Exhibit 13).

Exhibit 13
Top 10 Certificates and Degree Awards in the West Texas Region’s Community Colleges, 2017-18 School Year
Certificates and Degrees Number Awarded
Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities 1,215
Health Professions and Related Clinical Sciences 509
Business, Management, Marketing and Related Support Services 275
Personal and Culinary Services 171
Security and Protective Services 162
Engineering Technologies/Technicians 158
Mechanic and Repair Technologies/Technicians 148
Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services 118
Education 83
Precision Production 69

Source: JobsEQ


Regional Economy

The health of the West Texas 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 West Texas region trended upward in the past decade. This region’s taxable sales revenue has been the state’s most volatile since the 2009 recession, with sales rising by almost 150 percent from 2009 to 2014. This high was followed by a significant two-year decline (Exhibit 14). In 2018, the region saw a rise in taxable sales exceeding 2014’s and this rise continued into 2019. For 2019, receipts subject to state sales tax directly attributed to businesses in the West Texas region approached $21 billion, contributing 3.7 percent of the state’s total taxable sales. The Midland MSA directly accounted for $8.9 billion of this total.

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Exhibit 14
West Texas Region, Taxable Sales, 2007-2019
Year Revenue West Texas Region
2007 8.0 billion dollars
2008 9.4 billion dollars
2009 7.1 billion dollars
2010 8.4 billion dollars
2011 11.0 billion dollars
2012 13.5 billion dollars
2013 14.4 billion dollars
2014 17.7 billion dollars
2015 13.5 billion dollars
2016 11.1 billion dollars
2017 15.2 billion dollars
2018 20.3 billion dollars
2019 20.7 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.

The West Texas region’s retail trade and mining sectors contributed most to taxable sales in 2019, accounting for a combined 49.5 percent of the region’s taxable sales. Two other industries of note were the wholesale trade and the manufacturing sectors, together generating about 22 percent of the region’s taxable sales.

West Texas Region vs. the U.S.

Exhibit 15 illustrates how the West Texas region compares among other states and the nation on a number of demographic and economic measures. If it were a state, the West Texas region would be the 38th largest in terms of land area (just behind Kentucky) and have the 49th largest population. In 2018, the region had the fifth-highest per capita income.

Exhibit 15
West Texas Region Compared to the U.S.
Measure West Texas Region Rank if Region
were a State
Texas State Rank U.S.
Square Miles 39,828 38 268,597 2 3,531,905
Population, 2019 662,439 49 28,995,881 2 328,239,523
Population with at Least a High School Diploma, 2018 79.3% 51 83.2% 49 87.7%
Population with Bachelor’s Degree or Higher, 2018 19.5% 51 29.3% 28 31.5%
Population Under 18 Years, 2018 27.3% 2 25.8% 2 22.4%
Population 65 Years and Above, 2018 12.3% 49 12.6% 48 16.0%
Population Percent Change, 2010 to 2019 15.8% 2 15.3% 2 6.3%
Per Capita Income, 2018 $66,206 5 $50,355 26 $54,446
Unemployment Rate, 2019 2.6% 4 3.5% 27 3.7%

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


West Texas Regional Summary

The West Texas region and its 30 counties have many unique economic conditions and challenges. Midland County, with the city of Midland and Ector County, anchored by Odessa, are the region’s economic centers.

In all, the 2018 median age of the region’s residents was slightly younger than the state. Loving County, however, had the state’s oldest average population; it is also one of least populated. Hispanic and non-Hispanic whites split 93 percent of the region’s population almost evenly. While the region’s population growth has kept pace with the rest of the state, Midland County’s population rose almost twice as fast as did the state’s from 2010 through 2019.

This region had the state’s most volatile local economies in the past 10 years. It saw significant job growth; the Midland MSA’s employment rise nearly tripled the state rate. If the region were a state, it would have the fifth highest per capita income in the nation. The high concentration of extraction and transportation of natural resources industries differentiate the West Texas region from others in Texas.


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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