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 region has a population density of 16 people per square mile, making it the least densely populated region in Texas and significantly less populated than the state average of 108 people per square mile.
The West Texas Region contains three metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs): the Midland MSA, composed of the Martin and Midland counties; the Odessa MSA, in Ector county; and the San Angelo MSA, composed of the Irion and Tom Green counties. Counties in the region not associated with an MSA are 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. The West Texas Region has two large focus areas in the cities of Midland (Midland County) and Odessa (Ector County). The Midland MSA has a population of approximately 171,000 (about 27 percent of the region and less than 1 percent of the state). The Odessa MSA has a population of approximately 157,000 (about 25 percent of the region and less than 1 percent of the state).
This report examines regional economic trends including population, personal income, jobs and wages, and education, as well as economic conditions unique to the West Texas Region.
The West Texas Region’s estimated total population in 2017 was approximately 636,000, or about 2.2 percent of the state’s total population. This is an increase of 11.2 percent (more than 64,000 people) since the 2010 census. An estimated 25 percent of the region’s population lives in both Ector and Midland counties.
From 2010 to 2017, the region’s population growth was on par with the state as a whole (Exhibit 1). While the population of each county changed during this period, Midland grew by almost 21 percent – almost twice as fast as the state as a whole.
|County||2010 Census||Estimate (as of July 2017)||Percent Change|
|West Texas Region Total||571,871||635,912||11.2%|
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
According to a recent Census analysis, the median age for the West Texas Region’s counties is slightly lower than the state as a whole. Five of the region’s 30 counties have a median age significantly lower than the state’s median age of 34.2 years. The region is home to two counties – Kimble (54.5 years) and Loving (58.2 years) – with populations among the oldest in the state, as well as Gaines County which, at 28.4 years, has one of the youngest. But residents of the most populous counties in the region are roughly the same age or younger than the state population. Residents of the Midland and Odessa MSAs have median ages significantly lower than the state median.
Household income in Texas is more or less evenly distributed among five income levels. Of the more than 9 million households in the state, 22 percent have household incomes less than $25,000, and 16 percent have incomes exceeding $125,000. In every region of the state, nearly 18 percent have an average household income between $50,000 and $75,000. Household income within the West Texas Region is on par with the state for all income categories (Exhibit 2).
The West Texas Region’s Hispanic population is 47.6 percent of the regional total – 9 percentage points higher than the state’s 38.6 percent Hispanic population (Exhibit 3). The region’s 4.2 percent black (not Hispanic) population is more than 7 percentage points lower than the state’s non-Hispanic black population of 11.6 percent.
|Income Level||West Texas Region||State Total|
|less than $25,000||20.4%||22.2%|
|$25,000 to $50,000||23.9%||23.6%|
|$50,000 to $75,000||18.2%||17.8%|
|$75,000 to $125,000||21.9%||20.2%|
|more than $125,000||15.6%||16.1%|
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
|Race and Ethnicity||West Texas Region||State Total|
|Black (not Hispanic)||4.2%||11.6%|
|White (not Hispanic)||45.6%||43.4%|
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
In 2017, the West Texas Region accounted for more than 2 percent of the state’s total employment. The region’s employment increased by almost 20 percent from 2007 to 2017, exceeding the state employment growth rate of 17.4 percent. Employment in the Midland MSA increased nearly 38 percent over the same period, with the Odessa MSA growing nearly 21 percent (Exhibit 4). The Midland MSA is the fastest growing job market in the state. More than 33 percent of the region’s jobs are in the Midland MSA, and nearly 26 percent are in the Odessa MSA.
|Area||Number of Jobs, 2017||Change in Jobs from 2007||Percent Change|
|West Texas Region||276,820||45,659||19.8%|
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 West Texas Region in 2017 was $56,491, similar to the state and national averages. Adjusted for inflation, individual wages in the West Texas Region increased more than 23 percent from 2007 to 2017, more than four times greater than the state’s wage growth (Exhibit 5). Within the region, the Midland MSA had the highest average wage ($69,490) of all metro areas in the state, as well as significant wage growth (nearly 30 percent) from 2007 to 2017. The Odessa MSA also had an average wage that was on par with state and regional averages.
|Area||Average Wage, 2017||Change in Wages from 2007||Nominal Rate of Change, 2007 to 2017||Real Rate of Change,* 2007 to 2017|
|West Texas Region||$56,491||$17,694||45.6%||23.2%|
* 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
Exhibit 6 lists the West Texas 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 by the federal government’s North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), which is used by federal statistical agencies to classify business establishments.
The West Texas Region’s most highly concentrated industries primarily involve the extraction and transportation of natural resources. The region’s most highly concentrated industry subsector – support activities for mining – is also among the region’s fastest growing. Employment in this subsector increased by approximately 72 percent from 2007-2017, which coincides with the statewide increase in natural resource extraction and the emphasis in the West Texas Region.
|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|
|Support Activities for Mining (213)||54.10||23.3%||31,158||71.8%||$85,502||34.6%||13.8%|
|Oil and Gas Extraction (211)||39.18||14.5%||11,006||44.0%||$143,079||48.5%||25.6%|
|Pipeline Transportation (486)||12.50||6.4%||1,228||51.3%||$110,931||22.9%||3.9%|
|Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction (237)||3.36||4.3%||7,581||19.5%||$70,217||60.2%||35.5%|
|Rental and Leasing Services (532)||3.01||5.1%||3,265||65.4%||$76,979||50.9%||27.7%|
|Animal Production and Aquaculture (112)||2.33||4.7%||1,200||7.1%||$33,513||32.0%||11.6%|
|Mining (except Oil and Gas) (212)||2.30||7.2%||829||309.1%||$65,114||50.8%||27.6%|
|Truck Transportation (484)||2.27||4.6%||6,434||75.3%||$62,262||29.7%||9.7%|
|Gasoline Stations (447)||2.26||4.8%||4,130||59.1%||$28,048||50.0%||26.9%|
|Fishing, Hunting and Trapping (114)||2.14||6.2%||35||195.1%||$36,644||155.0%||115.7%|
|West Texas Region||-||2.3%||276,820||19.8%||$56,491||45.6%||23.2%|
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.
Sources: JobsEQ and Bureau of Labor Statistics
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, 87.4 percent of the West Texas Region’s class of public high school students graduated, lower than the state’s rate of 89.1 percent (Exhibit 7). The region’s high school graduation rate has increased almost 7 percent since 2010; although still lower than the state rate, the gap is narrowing.
Many high school graduates enroll in postsecondary programs, offering greater job prospects and the possibility of earning higher wages. Residents of the West Texas Region enjoy a variety of options for higher educational achievement (Exhibit 8).
Source: Texas Education Agency
Source: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
The Comptroller's office has analyzed data pertaining to the West Texas Region, examining the region’s dynamics and competitiveness.
Sales receipts subject to state sales tax directly attributable to the West Texas Region trended upward in the past decade (trend lines depict data movement – either upward, downward or flat – for an extended period of time). This region has been the most volatile since the 2009 recession, with receipts increasing almost 150 percent at the peak of 2014, followed by a significant two-year drop-off (Exhibit 9).
However, 2017 indicates a noteworthy jump in receipts moving toward the 2014 peak. For 2017, receipts subject to state sales tax directly attributed to businesses in the West Texas Region exceeded $15.2 billion, contributing about 3.2 percent of the state’s overall sales tax revenue collections. The Midland MSA directly accounted for $6.3 billion of this total.
A review of two-digit NAICS codes allows for a broad analysis of industry sectors within the region. The retail trade and mining sectors contribute most to taxable sales, combining for more than 58 percent of the region’s state sales tax collections. Two other industries of note are the wholesale trade and food service and accommodation sectors, combining for 18 percent of the region’s reported sales tax collections.
|Year||West Texas Region|
Note: Numbers shown are for reported revenue subject to sales tax and directly attributed to the region.
Source: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
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).
U.S. military installations within the West Texas Region have a positive impact on the Texas economy, supporting an estimated 19,000 jobs and contributing about $2.1 billion to the state’s GDP (Exhibit 10).
|Region||Total Jobs Supported||U.S. Military Contribution to State GDP|
|State of Texas||624,690||$62.3 billion|
|West Texas Region||19,258||$2.1 billion|
Sources: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, TMPC, REMI
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 11 shows how the region rates with other states and the nation on a number of demographic and economic measures. If the West Texas Region were a state, it would be the 38th largest in terms of land mass (square miles) and have the 49th largest population. The region also would have the sixth highest per capita income and the 19th lowest unemployment rate, as of 2017.
|Measure||West Texas Region||Rank if Region
was a State
|Share of population age 25+ with at least a high school diploma||78.2%||51||82.4%||49||87.0%|
|Share of population age 25+ with bachelor’s degree or higher||18.6%||51||28.1%||29||30.3%|
|Share of population under age 18||27.2%||2||26.0%||2||22.6%|
|Share of population age 65 and older||12.4%||48||12.3%||48||15.7%|
|Age dependency ratio*||65.7%||38||62.1%||20||61.9%|
|Per capita income||$56,734||6||$46,204||25||$49,204|
* 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
The West Texas Region and its 30 counties have many economic variables and challenges unique to the region. Midland County, with Midland at its center, and Ector County, anchored by Odessa, are the economic cores of the region.
The median age of the region’s residents is slightly lower than the state as a whole. Loving County, however, has 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 population growth in the region has kept pace with the rest of the state, Midland County grew almost twice as fast as did the state.
This region has had the most volatile local economies during the past 10 years. Receipts subject to state sales tax in 2017, however, signal the return of strong positive local growth. There has been significant job growth in the region as well. From 2007 to 2017, the Midland MSA’s employment rate doubled the state rate, and its average wage was the highest of all metro areas in the state. If the region were a state itself, it would have the sixth highest per capita income in the nation. The high concentration of industries revolving primarily around the extraction and transportation of natural resources differentiates the West Texas Region from other regions in Texas.
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