(AUSTIN) — Jobs in the Central Texas region will increase slightly in 2009 while Texas as a whole suffers job losses due to the struggling national economy, according to projections in a new report by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs. Job growth in the Bryan-College Station area should overtake the Texas job growth rate of 21 percent this year and continue outpacing the state through 2013.
Looking beyond the national recession through 2013, Central Texas will see overall job growth of 21 percent, similar to statewide growth, led by Bryan-College Station, Temple and Waco.
“Bryan-College Station faces the same challenges as other areas of the state,” Combs said. “A struggling national economy is currently slowing the pace of growth and development; but with an economy dominated by Texas A&M University and the rapidly growing Central Texas health care sector, Bryan-College Station can maintain stability and continue expanding when the national economic climate improves.”
Combs released Texas in Focus: Central Texas, a report providing a detailed economic outlook for the 20-county region between the Colorado and Trinity Rivers that includes the cities of Bryan-College Station, Waco and Temple. The report examines the region’s economic development, demographics, infrastructure, health care and education — key issues that present both opportunities and challenges for the Texas economy.
With more than 48,000 students and more than 21,000 employees, Texas A&M University has a profound economic impact on Brazos County and the entire Central Texas region. A Texas A&M study estimates the university’s economic impact on Brazos County at $2.7 billion in 2006. The George Bush Presidential Library on campus, university athletics and the annual student-run community service day known as the BIG Event are just a few of the ways Texas A&M contributes to the community and boosts the economy.
Health care is one of the fastest-growing industries in Central Texas. General medical and surgical hospitals are projected to employ almost 17,700 by 2013. In the Bryan-College Station area, three of the top 10 private employers are hospitals. Hospitals and other health care providers are also major employers in the Killeen-Temple-Waco area. Health care occupations are generally high-paying. Many require only an associate degree, including sonographers, nuclear medicine technologists, registered nurses, respiratory therapists and dental hygienists. To help meet the need for health care workers, the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine is expanding its Bryan-College Station and Temple campuses and creating a new campus in Round Rock, just north of Austin.
Regional industries such as professional and business services, agriculture, natural resources and mining should grow by 30 percent from 2003–13, despite setbacks and fallout from the current credit crisis. Anticipated expansion in other sectors includes leisure and hospitality, up 32 percent; construction, up 22 percent; and manufacturing, up 8 percent.
Ranching contributes more than $1.5 billion to the Central Texas economy each year. Every phase of the beef cattle industry is represented in the region. Central Texas once had many small dairy producers as well, but the dairy industry has consolidated into large operations and shifted to other parts of the state.
The Central Texas region has a younger and more rural population than the rest of the state. Nearly a quarter of the people live outside a metropolitan area, compared to a statewide rural population of about 13 percent. In 2008, 40 percent of the region’s residents were under 25 years old, with many falling into the 20-24 age group.
From 2001 to 2006, per capita personal income in Central Texas grew more rapidly than the state as a whole. Coryell County led the region, with a nearly 56 percent increase, followed by Lampasas County (44 percent) and Bell County (36 percent). Per capita personal income in McLennan and Brazos counties increased about 23 percent. Statewide, per capita personal income rose 21 percent.