April 18, 2011

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Employment rose in 21 of the 24 largest counties in Texas from September 2009 to September 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported today. (Large counties are defined as those with employment of 75,000 or more as measured by 2009 annual average employment.) Regional Commissioner Stanley W. Suchman noted that four of these Texas counties ranked in the top ten for job growth among the nation’s largest counties – Denton County led the State with a 3.2-percent gain and ranked 2nd in the nation, closely followed by Bell County, with a 3.1-percent increase and ranked 3rd. Also ranking in the top ten were Brazoria (2.5 percent, 7th) and Collin (2.4 percent, 10th). (See table 1 and table 3.)

Employment nationwide edged up 0.2 percent from September 2009 as 162 of the 326 largest U.S. counties registered increases. Elkhart County, Ind., recorded the fastest rate of employment growth in the country, up 6.8 percent, while Sacramento, Calif., registered the fastest decline, down 3.7 percent. The five counties nationwide with the greatest increases in employment levels (New York, N.Y.; Harris, Texas; Washington, D.C.; Dallas, Texas; and Hennepin, Minn.) had a combined over-the-year gain of 85,500, or 27.5 percent of the U.S. employment increase.

Among the largest counties in Texas, employment was highest in Harris County (1,995,800) in September 2010, followed by Dallas County (1,415,000). Three other counties, Tarrant, Bexar, and Travis, had employment levels exceeding 500,000. Together, the 24 largest Texas counties accounted for 78.5 percent of total employment within the State. Nationwide, the 326 largest counties made up 70.6 percent of total U.S. employment.

Brazoria County recorded the fastest growth in average weekly wages among the State’s largest counties with a gain of 5.7 percent from the third quarter of 2009 to the third quarter of 2010. (See table 1.) At $1,083 per week in the third quarter of 2010, Harris County had the highest average weekly wage, followed by Dallas at $1,032. Nationally, average weekly wages rose 3.4 percent over the year to $870.

Employment and wage levels (but not over-the-year changes) are also available for the 230 counties in Texas with employment levels below 75,000. Among the smaller counties, 95 percent (218) had average weekly wages below the national average. (See table 2.)

Large county wage changes
Eleven of Texas’s 24 large counties recorded wage growth above the 3.4-percent national increase from the third quarter of 2009 to the third quarter of 2010. (See table 1.) Brazoria County’s 5.7-percent wage increase was the highest in the State and placed 23rd in the national ranking. Wages rose at a 5.2-percent pace in Montgomery County, closely followed by a 5.1-percent increase in McLennan County, placing 31st and 32nd, respectively. The slowest wage increase among the State’s largest counties was in Galveston County at 0.9 percent (301st). No large county in Texas recorded an over-the-year decline.

Among the 326 largest U.S. counties, 319 had over-the-year increases in average weekly wages. Rock Island, Ill., had the largest increase in average weekly wages in the third quarter of 2010 with a gain of 12.2 percent. Within Rock Island, professional and business services had the largest impact on the county’s over-the-year increase in average weekly wages. Benton, Ark. was second with wage growth of 10.4 percent, followed by Santa Clara, Calif. (10.1 percent). Only one large U.S. County, Sacramento, Calif., experienced an average weekly wage decline with a loss of 2.2 percent over the year.

Large county average weekly wages
Average weekly wages in 4 of the 24 large Texas counties were at least 10 percent above the national average of $870 per week in the third quarter of 2010. Harris County led at $1,083 per week and ranked 24th among the 326 large counties nationwide. Harris was followed by Dallas ($1,032, 39th), Collin ($999, 48th), and Travis ($967, 56th). Two Texas counties – Tarrant and Fort Bend – reported average weekly wages slightly above the U.S. average.

Texas had three of the five lowest-paying large counties in the United States, all located along the border with Mexico. These included Cameron ($560, 325th), Hidalgo ($575, 324th), and Webb ($595, 323rd). Other low-ranking areas on the national large county list included El Paso, also situated along the border with Mexico ($636, 316th), and two counties which are home to large universities, Brazos ($664, 312th) and Lubbock ($666,310th).

Nationally, weekly wages were higher than the U.S. average in 110 of the largest counties in the country. Santa Clara, Calif., held the top position among the highest-paid large counties with an average weekly wage of $1,662. New York, N.Y., was second at $1,572, followed by Arlington, Va. ($1,505), Washington, D.C. ($1,471), and Fairfax, Va. ($1,374).

Of the largest counties in the United States, 212, or nearly two-thirds, reported average weekly wages below the national average in the third quarter of 2010. The lowest wage was reported in Horry, S.C., at $541 per week. Joining the Texas counties of Cameron, Hidalgo, and Webb among the bottom five was Yakima, Wash. ($599). Wages in these lowest-ranked counties were less than 40 percent of the average weekly wage reported for the highest-ranked county, Santa Clara, Calif.

Average weekly wages in smaller Texas counties
Twelve of the 230 smaller counties in Texas – those with employment below 75,000 – reported average weekly wages equal to or above the national average of $870. Three of these smaller counties had wages that not only exceeded $1,000 per week, but also were the highest in the State: Carson ($1,422), Irion ($1,197), and Sutton ($1,123). Foard County registered the lowest weekly wage, averaging $424 in the third quarter of 2010. (See table 2.)

When all 254 counties in Texas were considered, all but 18 had wages below the national average. Thirty reported average weekly wages under $550, 113 registered wages from $550 to $649, 56 had wages from $650 to $749, 33 had wages from $750 to $849, and 22 had wages of $850 or more per week. (See chart 1.) The counties with above average wages were concentrated around the metropolitan areas of Austin, Amarillo, Corpus Christi, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and Midland. The lower-paid counties, those with wages under $550, were generally located in the agricultural areas of central Texas and the Texas Panhandle, as well as along the Texas-Mexico border.

Additional Statistics and Other Information
QCEW data for states have been included in this release in table 3. For additional information about quarterly employment and wages data, please read the Technical Note or visit the QCEW Web site at www.bls.gov/cew/.

An annual bulletin, Employment and Wages Annual Averages, features comprehensive information by detailed industry on establishments, employment, and wages for the nation and all states. The 2009 edition of this bulletin contains selected data produced by Business Employment Dynamics (BED) on job gains and losses, as well as selected data from the first quarter 2010 version of this news release. The web-only publication has replaced the annual print bulletin, Employment and Wages Annual Averages. The March 2010 issue of this annual bulletin was the final one to be issued on paper. Tables and additional content from the 2009 Employment and Wages Annual Bulletin are now available online at www.bls.gov/cew/cewbultn09.htm. Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: 202-691-5200; TDD message referral phone number: 1-800-877-8339.

For personal assistance or further information on the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages Program, as well as other Bureau programs, contact the Southwest Information Office at 972-850-4800 from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. CT.

Technical Note
Average weekly wage data by county are compiled under the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program, also known as the ES-202 program. The data are derived from summaries of employment and total pay of workers covered by state and federal unemployment insurance (UI) legislation and provided by State Workforce Agencies (SWAs). The 9.0 million employer reports covered 129.4 million full- and part-time workers. The average weekly wage values are calculated by
dividing quarterly total wages by the average of the three monthly employment levels of those covered by UI programs. The result is then divided by 13, the number of weeks in a quarter. It is to be noted, therefore, that over-the-year wage changes for geographic areas may reflect shifts in the composition of employment by industry, occupation, and such other factors as hours of work. Thus, wages may vary among counties, metropolitan areas, or states for reasons other than changes in the average wage level.
Data for all states, Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), counties, and the nation are available on the BLS Web site at www.bls.gov/cew/; however, data in QCEW press releases have been revised and may not match the data contained on the BLS Web site.

QCEW data are not designed as a time series. QCEW data are simply the sums of individual establishment records reflecting the number of establishments that exist in a county or industry at a point in time. Establishments can move in or out of a county or industry for a number of reasons-some reflecting economic events, others reflecting administrative changes.

The preliminary QCEW data presented in this release may differ from data released by the individual states as well as from the data presented on the BLS Web site. These potential differences result from the states’ continuing receipt, review and editing of UI data over time. On the other hand, differences between data in this release and the data found on the BLS Web site are the result of adjustments made to improve over-the-year comparisons. Specifically, these adjustments account for administrative (noneconomic) changes such as a correction to a previously reported location or industry classification.
Adjusting for these administrative changes allows users to more accurately assess changes of an economic nature (such as a firm moving from one county to another or changing its primary economic activity) over a 12-month period. Currently, adjusted data are available only from BLS press releases.

About Temple:
Temple, Texas is a community with a diverse economic base that includes healthcare, distribution and warehousing, and manufacturing as the foundation. Within 180 miles of a population of 17.8 million, Temple is in a strategic location that is central within the southwest U.S. marketplace.