UT Tyler professor says East Texas doing better than country as a whole with income, poverty level

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 6:23 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2021 at 6:36 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) -Tuesday, the United States Census Bureau released data that highlights a decrease in median household income and an increase in poverty rate.

According to the the data, the median income dropped from $69,560 to $67,521 between 2019 and 2020, a 2.9 percent decrease. There was in increase in poverty rate from 10.5 to 11.4 an increase by one percent.

UT Tyler political science professor Dr. Mark Owens says East Texas is faring better compared to the nationwide numbers.

“We have seen a great growth in the last decade in all parts of the country, specifically here in East Texas, where that 2019 number showed that income and median household incomes in East Texas counties have largely grown somewhere between $6,000 or $10,000 in the last nine years before,” said Owens.

Owens believes part of what kept the poverty level from increasing even more during the pandemic was the number of stimulus checks that people received as additional income.

“I think it helped because it was needed at the moment; that wasn’t necessarily a full paycheck for some, but it was influential for a number of individuals,” said Owens.

Owens believes the data is muddy because it was filled out both before and during the pandemic. He expects things to improve as many workers, he says, will see an increase in wages as companies start to fill positions again.

“They need to be offering competitive wages to those talented folks because the talent pool that is out there is rich. There are individuals who are in demand who should be getting multiple job offers and they can start to negotiate the higher pay that is something we should see continue to play out into the future,” said Owens.

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