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Some modest good news for El Paso income levels


Household income in El Paso has shown better growth than the nation since the Great Recession, but has lagged income growth in Texas, according to data from the Census Bureau.

El Paso’s median household income in 2018, adjusted for inflation, was 3.7 percent higher than in 2007, the year before the Great Recession began, according to numbers released Dec. 12 by the Census Bureau’s Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates Program. Nationwide, median household income grew by an inflation-adjusted 1.2 percent in that time, while the Texas growth rate was 5.7 percent.

El Paso’s median household income — meaning half of households make more and half make less — was just under $44,000 in 2018, compared to nearly $62,000 nationally and in Texas.

The Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates Program, known to demographers as SAIPE, provides poverty estimates for all counties and school districts, one of the few estimates to go down to such a granular level.

El Paso’s total poverty rate in 2018 was 20.5 percent, continuing a consistent downward trend since 2005, when our poverty rate was at 29 percent. According to SAIPE data, the national poverty rate in 2018 was 13.1 percent; in Texas it was 14.9 percent.

The poverty rate for school-age children (5-17) was 29.7 percent in El Paso last year, compared to 17 percent nationally and 20.2 percent in Texas.

In local school districts, the poverty rate for school-age children last year ranged from 24.3 percent in Socorro Independent School District to about 41 percent in Fabens and San Elizario.

Robert Moore

Robert Moore is the founder and CEO of El Paso Matters. He has been a journalist in the Texas Borderlands since 1986. He spent most of his career at the El Paso Times, serving in a variety of leadership roles. His work has received a number of top journalism honors including the Burl Osborne award for editorial leadership, the James Madison Award from the Texas Freedom of Information Foundation, the Jack Douglas Award from Texas Associated Press Managing Editors and the Frank W. Mayborn Award for Community Leadership from the Texas Press Association. In 2013, he was the recipient of the Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award from the National Press Association. As a freelance journalist, Moore’s work has appeared in the Washington Post, Texas Monthly, ProPublica, National Public Radio, The Guardian and other publications. He has been featured as an expert on the border by CNN, MSNBC, BBC, CBC and PBS.

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