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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 Region2018 Regional Report

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.

Population

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.

Exhibit 1: West Texas Region Population by County,
2010 and 2017
County 2010 Census Estimate (as of July 2017) Percent Change
Andrews 14,786 17,722 19.9%
Borden 641 673 5.0%
Coke 3,320 3,306 -0.4%
Concho 4,087 2,717 -33.5%
Crane 4,375 4,740 8.3%
Crockett 3,719 3,564 -4.2%
Dawson 13,833 12,813 -7.4%
Ector 137,130 157,087 14.6%
Gaines 17,526 20,638 17.8%
Glasscock 1,226 1,348 10.0%
Howard 35,012 36,040 2.9%
Irion 1,599 1,516 -5.2%
Kimble 4,607 4,410 -4.3%
Loving 82 134 63.4%
Martin 4,799 5,626 17.2%
Mason 4,012 4,222 5.2%
McCulloch 8,283 7,957 -3.9%
Menard 2,242 2,124 -5.3%
Midland 136,872 165,049 20.6%
Pecos 15,507 15,634 0.8%
Reagan 3,367 3,710 10.2%
Reeves 13,783 15,281 10.9%
Schleicher 3,461 3,001 -13.3%
Sterling 1,143 1,295 13.3%
Sutton 4,128 3,767 -8.7%
Terrell 984 810 -17.7%
Tom Green 110,224 118,019 7.1%
Upton 3,355 3,663 9.2%
Ward 10,658 11,472 7.6%
Winkler 7,110 7,574 6.5%
West Texas Region Total 571,871 635,912 11.2%
Midland MSA 141,671 170,675 20.5%
Odessa MSA 137,130 157,087 14.6%
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 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.

Exhibit 2: West Texas Region and Texas Household Income

Exhibit 2: Household Income Percentile, West Texas Region vs. Texas
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

Exhibit 3: West Texas Region and Texas Population by Race and Ethnicity

Population by Race and Ethnicity, West Texas Region vs. Texas
Race and 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


Jobs and Wages

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.

Exhibit 4: West Texas Region Employment, 2007 to 2017
Area Number of Jobs, 2017 Change in Jobs from 2007 Percent Change
Midland MSA 91,754 25,093 37.6%
Odessa MSA 70,852 12,200 20.8%
West Texas Region 276,820 45,659 19.8%
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 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.

Exhibit 5: West Texas 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
Midland MSA $69,490 $24,159 53.3% 29.7%
Odessa MSA $56,250 $14,492 34.7% 13.9%
West Texas Region $56,491 $17,694 45.6% 23.2%
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 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.

Exhibit 6: West Texas 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
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.

  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, 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).

Exhibit 7: West Texas Region and Texas Public High School Graduation Rates, 2006 to 2016
Year South Texas
2010 80.8% 84.3%
2011 81.7% 85.9%
2012 83.9% 87.7%
2013 83.0% 88.0%
2014 84.7% 88.3%
2015 85.8% 89.0%
2016 87.4% 89.1%

Source: Texas Education Agency


Exhibit 8: West Texas Region Institutions of Higher Education, 2017

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

Regional Economy

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

Sales Tax Revenue

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.

Exhibit 9: Revenue Subject to Sales Tax, 2007 to 2017
Year West Texas Region
2007 $8,038,473,442
2008 $9,426,388,320
2009 $7,144,895,779
2010 $8,380,875,048
2011 $11,022,939,654
2012 $13,463,436,972
2013 $14,429,205,550
2014 $17,712,486,753
2015 $13,479,870,166
2016 $11,087,394,470
2017 $15,246,297,537

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).

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).

Exhibit 10: Estimated U.S. Military Impact on the West Texas Region, 2017
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


West Texas 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 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.

Exhibit 11: West Texas Region Compared to the U.S.
Measure West Texas Region Rank if Region
was a State
Texas State Rank U.S.
Population 635,912 49 28,304,596 2 325,719,178
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
Unemployment rate 3.7% 19 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 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.


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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