By: Dr. M. Ray Perryman
Published in syndication July 05, 2023
Texas reached a notable milestone according to the latest release of US Census Bureau population data - the Lone Star State's Hispanic racial/ethnic group is now the largest. According to the July 2022 estimates, Hispanics comprise 40.2% of the population, while the second largest group (non-Hispanic white) is 39.8%. The state is also adding almost 1,300 people a day. That's more than my hometown had when I was growing up (or at least having my first 18 birthdays).
Note that Hispanics can be of any race (or multiple races), and 59.8% of the state's population is counted as not Hispanic. The Black or African American (but not Hispanic) population is now 12.5% of the total, a share which has been slowly increasing. The Asian group has also increased modestly to 5.5%.
Other Census data released relates to the percent of the population 18 and older and median age. Texas is second only to Utah in the youth of its population. In the United States, 21.7% of the population is younger than 18. In Utah, the share is 27.6%, and in Texas, it's 24.8%. Other states with high proportions of youth include Nebraska, Alaska, South Dakota, Idaho, and Oklahoma. At the other end of the spectrum are many of the New England states, with Vermont having only 17.7% young people.
There you have it! A large and well-trained workforce is the currency for long-term economic expansion, and Texas has young people in abundance.
The key to success is, thus, ensuring adequate investment in education for the state's greatest resource - its young people. While many areas struggle with aging populations and a lack of workers, Texas will be in a much stronger position. However, preparation for the jobs of the future is imperative, from both individual and societal perspectives.
As with all areas, Texas students lost ground during the pandemic. While faring better than most in terms of the setback, there is much work to be done and resources are crucial. Supporting schools is an investment in the future for all of us.
Access to opportunities beyond high school will also be critical, as will affordability. One factor is that the Hispanic share of total wealth in Texas is notably smaller than the group's proportion of population. Although the situation is improving, I estimate that Hispanics hold about 9-10% of wealth compared to a share of population of over 40% (and well above 50% of the school-aged group, a percentage that is rapidly expanding). Assuring access and educational excellence is essential.
Texas is well positioned for the future with a large and expanding group of young people compared to many areas. If they become a world-class workforce, the sky's the limit! Stay safe!