San Antonio’s Median Income Still Lags Behind Other Texas Cities

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Scott Ball / Rivard Report

A USPS employee walks along side San Pedro Avenue.

The median income for San Antonio exceeded the $50,000 mark for the first time in 10 years, yet still lags behind national and state averages, new data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows.

The median income for a household in San Antonio in 2017 was $50,044, according to the data released Thursday. That represents a 1.6 percent increase from a median income of $49,268 in 2016.

However, San Antonio’s median income fell behind other major Texas cities such as Houston ($50,896), Dallas ($50,627), and Austin ($67,755). State and county incomes also were higher. Bexar County’s median income hit $54,175 from $53,210 in 2016, and median incomes for the State were $59,206, which was up 4.5 percent from $56,565. Nationally, median incomes rose 2.6 percent to $60,336.

Breaking down San Antonio’s median income by demographic groups shows Asians earning the most ($61,858), followed by whites ($51,863), Hispanics of any race ($45,022), and blacks ($34,896).

“Texas isn’t entirely missing out on some of the positive economic growth of the news we’ve had nationally,” said Kristie Tingle, research analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP), an Austin-based nonprofit policy institute.

But Tingle said median incomes don’t paint the whole picture when compared to how much more top earners gain year over year compared to bottom earners. According to Tingle’s research, people in Texas’ top income brackets see big gains yearly, while those who earn the least gain less.

Unfortunately, Tingle said, many Texans are left behind in terms of their ability to meet their families’ needs.

“If you’re looking at real income, earners in the bottom fifth [percentile] are actually losing money,” she said noting that extra attention to jobs and skills training could help San Antonio catch up to other Texas cities.

“If a population isn’t being trained for jobs that give them those wages, if that’s not happening at a high level in San Antonio or a level equal to the rest of the U.S., then that means that San Antonio is going to continue lagging behind,” she said.

Developing an educated workforce that could attract higher wages has been a focus of various City and County initiatives, especially in light of several corporate leaders’ decisions to choose Austin over San Antonio as the locus of their technology operations.

Earlier this month, H-E-B announced a decision to locate its technology headquarters in Austin. The decision is the most recent in a string of similar choices by industry leaders. In July, Austin also was chosen as the site of the U.S. Army Futures Command, which will develop new wartime technologies. Last year, USAA also chose downtown Austin as the site to launch its digital design studio.

In April, Mayor Ron Nirenberg announced he expected to create 70,000 jobs in San Antonio during the next two years, as a result of the efforts of the Economic Development Department and the Blue Chips Jobs Council, an informal group of local business leaders focused on recruiting corporations to invest in San Antonio.

“The time has come for us to put more ideas into action,” Nirenberg said at the 2018 State of the City address, “and that starts with creating jobs.

“Our regulatory environment should encourage more investment, not less.”

6 thoughts on “San Antonio’s Median Income Still Lags Behind Other Texas Cities

  1. I appreciate the address of an uneducated/untrained workforce, but what about not having families until you can provide for them? I know things happen, life happens, but I see so many young couples having kids before they can really afford to have them, and then wonder why they can’t get anywhere in life.

  2. Enough said:
    “If a population isn’t being trained for jobs that give them those wages, if that’s not happening at a high level in San Antonio or a level equal to the rest of the U.S., then that means that San Antonio is going to continue lagging behind,” she said.”

    I hope Nirenberg and the council do more than create a task force—the workforce-or lack thereof-is an existential problem (crisis) for this city! It’s education, that will move us forward or leave us behind!! I’d like to see educators from all districts-on any council, task force, etc…those who are in the trenches, not those in administrative roles. You have no idea what necessary info they can provide-and suggested solutions. In any case there is no time to waste as it takes time to develop a skilled/educated workforce. How many more great opportunities, from even local companies does SA need to miss before we get the message?

  3. My guess is that San Antonio’s median income has lagged behind for its entire history as has educational attainment. Thus, it is really unfair to blame the current leadership for such a longstanding issue.

    In addition to the training issue, it needs to be known that there is a problem of a lack of good jobs that would attract or retain people here. It is a vicious cycle. Low paying jobs means people with high skills leave and those with low skills change. This leaves a population with relatively lower levels of education and less wealth and the reality is that their children are going to be at a competitive disadvantage to those from other regions. We also have a lower tax base to fund schools because there is less wealth.

    Thus, the REAL question is how to break the vicious cycle that has plagued San Antonio for its entire history and will perpetuate itself for long as it can?

    The best opportunity, I believe, is to promote linkage between the San Antonio and Austin regions. If successful, this would mean that both employers and employees would have double (at least) the opportunities that they currently do. This is a real opportunity that is solvable in a short period of time and could make a huge difference but it requires REAL, BOLD LEADERSHIP and REAL ACTION. Not talk. Action.

    People can talk all we want about improving the schools but people need to realize that every community in the world wants to do the same. Thus, it seems unlikely that you’ll see much change in San Antonio’s relative position by relying upon that strategy. Even if we try harder and devote more relative resources to education, a place like Seattle (or Austin) just have a lot more smart people and a lot more money. Thus, they are better positioned to succeed in education and training initiatives.

    • Agreed…but SA also has the problem of low HS grad rate and a reputation as a low skill, low wage city. We are behind the curve from the beginning. We absolutely have an education crisis—and a language crisis. The Austin:SA link would be great, but can we compete with a well-educated Austin AND would they want to be linked w SA given that we lack what it takes to compete? Breaking the cycle will take bold leadership and ACTION. It needs to start yesterday, but tomorrow is too late. I hope people read your reply and understand this really is a now or never for this city.

  4. Not at all. Just came back from Dallas. The city of Dallas has 1.3M and is spread over a much smaller area. It offers a lot-including surrounding suburbs which are cities. Those suburbs/cities compete for business and make sure to offer what businesses look for-educated workforce, good schools, safe communities, amenities such as restaurants, parks, activities, etc.
    Once again, San Antonio has an image problem-low skill/low wage city. We were just listed as the second highest poverty city (right behind Detroit!). If that doesn’t tell you there is a problem, nothing will. Until you fix that and make the city more attractive we will continue to lag behind.

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