87 percent of Texas communities exceed US poverty rate in new survey

My New Year’s resolution is to put doing something about the high levels of Texas poverty on our state’s agenda for 2009. Here is an assessment of where Texas communities stand in terms of poverty based on the recently released American Communities Survey.

There are 61 Texas communities represented in the Census survey of more than 900 communities across the US.

Six Texas communities have poverty levels below the average US poverty level of 13.3 percent. However, three of the six are large metro areas (Austin-Round Rock, Dallas-Plano-Irving Metro Division and Fort Worth-Arlington Metro Division) that include affluent suburban communities that dilute much higher percentages of central city urban poverty. The “urbanized areas” of major Texas cities themselves have the following poverty rates: Austin – 14.1 percent; Dallas/Fort Worth – 14.1 percent and; San Antonio – 17.2 percent; and Houston – 16.1 percent. All are above the US community average.

Three smaller Texas communities have poverty rates below the US average: Dumas, Gainesville and Fredericksburg. Fredericksburg’s poverty rate is actually less than half of the US average.

Two Texas communities have poverty levels equal to the US average. A whopping forty-four Texas communities have poverty levels above the US average but less than twice the US level.

Nine Texas communities have poverty rates more than double that of the average US community. All of these communities, except College Station-Bryan, are along the Texas-Mexico border. Raymondville, Texas ranked as the community with the highest percent of persons in poverty of all US communities with an astonishing 50.1 percent of its residents below the poverty level. Rio Grande City-Roma ranked second in the US in poverty.

Eighty-seven percent of Texas communities in the American Communities survey have higher rates of persons in poverty than the US.

I extracted this data for Texas metropolitan or micropolitan statistical areas from Census Table GCT1701. The table shows the percent of people below the poverty level in the past 12 months (for whom poverty status is determined). The data represents the latest poverty estimates from the 2005-2007 American Community Survey.

Rank                                   Percent of people
in US   Metro & Metro Statistical Area   below poverty 

1	Raymondville                        50.1
2	Rio Grande City-Roma                41.4
6	McAllen-Edinburg-Mission            37.5
7	Brownsville-Harlingen               37.1
12	Eagle Pass                          33.1
21	Laredo                              30.5
32	Kingsville                          28.7
34	El Paso                             28.2
38	College Station-Bryan               26.7
43	Bay City                            25.6
46	Del Rio                             25.4
48	Big Spring                          25.1
55	Huntsville                          24.6
58	Alice                               24.4
67	Beeville                            23.6
80	Uvalde                              23.0
120	Brownwood                           21.0
133	Nacogdoches                         20.5
140	Corsicana                           20.2
174	Corpus Christi                      19.2
180	Marshall                            19.1
182	Waco                                19.1
195	Plainview                           18.8
212	Jacksonville                        18.5
224	Lubbock                             18.1
229	Stephenville                        18.0
246	Lufkin                              17.6
252	Athens                              17.4
260	San Angelo                          17.4
270	Brenham                             17.2
287	Odessa                              16.9
305	Paris                               16.7
313	Beaumont-Port Arthur                16.5
322	Borger                              16.4
330	Abilene                             16.3
343	Palestine                           16.2
354	Amarillo                            16.0
361	Pampa                               15.9
363	Tyler                               15.9
368	Mount Pleasant                      15.8
369	San Antonio                         15.8
371	Sulphur Springs                     15.8
375	Levelland                           15.7
378	Kerrville                           15.6
394	Longview                            15.4
411	Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown          15.2
421	Victoria                            15.1
437	Bonham                              14.8
440	El Campo                            14.8
441	Midland                             14.8
442	Mineral Wells                       14.8
456	Wichita Falls                       14.6
481	Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood            14.2
553	Granbury                            13.3
557	Sherman-Denison                     13.3
565	Dumas                               13.2
575	Austin-Round Rock                   13.1
578	Dallas-Plano-Irving Metro Division  13.1
586	Gainesville                         13.0
618	Fort Worth-Arlington Metro Division 12.6
928	Fredericksburg                       6.5


  1. If a city has a high poverty rate, it is GOOD! It means that that city has not driven out the poor as so many have, like Boston, Frisco, and Austin.
    The cuase of homelessness is big government liberal elitist ZONING! and the best thing the government can do to reduce homessness is get out of the way and stop actively causing it by demolishing and condemning shanties.

    1. I’m not so sure that it’s “liberal elitists” that have caused the problem of homelessness or poverty. The lack of education may be the key to both issues. There has to be a way of ensuring that a good education is made available to everyone. A lot of people under the poverty level are “generational” and that mindset has to change BEFORE any success is made.

      As far as the “shanties” go… How is the condemning of those “homes” a bad thing? If you’ve been to some Texas-Mexico border towns and have actually seen some of those areas, you must wonder how humans (particularly Americans) could allow other humans to exist like that.

  2. aditmore is right! We’re moving out of Boston because we can’t afford it here any more. We’re looking at Texas because it’s affordable. Boston’s loss. We’re a good, hard working family.

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