In news that really isn’t news, those of us living in the Valley are really really poor. =(
The Texas Tribune’s Alexa Ura broke down the latest US Census Bureau poverty estimate data and, to the surprise of no one, found that the Texas counties with the greatest poverty rates are the 5 that make up the RGV.
Here’s the breakdown from the Texas Tribune:
Willacy County, just north of Brownsville, has the highest poverty rate in the state with 38.8 percent of residents living in poverty. It has the second-highest child poverty rate with 45.9 percent.
Starr County ranked as the second poorest county in the state with 35.4 percent of its population living in poverty. Part of the Rio Grande Valley, the county is mostly made up of several small towns, including Rio Grande City.
At the southern tip of the state, 34.5 percent of Cameron County’s residents are poor. Home to Brownsville and Harlingen, the county also has the highest child poverty rate in the state with 47 percent of children living in poverty.
At the heart of the Rio Grande Valley, 33.5 percent of Hidalgo County’s population lives in poverty. Home to McAllen and Edinburg, the county also has a high share of poor children with 45.5 percent of children living in poverty.
All this means is that a good chunk of us are poor and probably getting paid less than what we could potentially be earning if we lived anywhere else. It also means, logically, that we have a higher percentage of people working for the minimum wage, with Hidalgo and Cameron County making up the 2 lowest wage-earning counties in the state. So how exactly does something like mass-poverty happen all around the same area?
Well, remember around 2008-2012 when McAllen was ranking as one of the fastest growing cities in the US and we just kept watching new shit just popping up everywhere all around here? A new big box store off of Jackson? A new chain restaurant off Ware? Great, right?
The thing is, opening up more and more big-box stores and the like only opens up more and more low-skill, minimum wage jobs and does very little to open higher-skill/higher-paying positions, those of which are often left in more centralized places like Houston or San Antonio. Ask ANY big box store or chain executive as to why none of these businesses are bringing in higher paying jobs and they’ll all tell you the same exact thing: The Valley big-box store or restaurant is often the company’s regional flagship, meaning they often beat out other branches in larger cities such as San Antonio and Austin in sales and other important business metrics (thanks to the buying power of our rich cousins in Monterrey), but their corporate offices are almost NEVER located here.
Why? Well, maybe it’s because we have such a tiny pool of qualified persons living in the Valley to actually warrant a corporate office. The Valley, again unsurprisingly, leads the state in percentage of adult persons who are illiterate (Cameron at 43%, Hidalgo at 50%, and Starr county at 65%). Couple that with us also having the lowest percentage of person’s with a bachelor’s degree in the country and the picture begins to get clearer.
Don’t wanna sound like THAT guy, but things are not good here and I don’t think this guy is gonna make it any better.