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Texas’ 41-county High Plains region was home to more than an estimated 800,000 people in 2007, about 3.4 percent of the state’s population. In recent years, the High Plains region has grown more slowly than the state as a whole. From 2002 to 2007, the region’s population rose by an estimated 2.7 percent, while the state’s grew by 9.8 percent.1 The region’s population is primarily concentrated in its two largest cities, Amarillo (population 185,525 in 2006) and Lubbock (population 212,169 in 2006).

Water Wise Workshop in Lubbock, Texas
Photo Credit: City of Lubbock

Less than half the region’s residents (48.8 percent) were aged 25 to 64 in 2007.


Like the rest of the state, the region’s metro population is growing faster than the rest of the region.

In 2007, more than half of all Texans – 52.1 percent – were aged 25 to 64. Those under the age of 25 accounted for 37.9 percent of the total population, while 10.0 percent of Texans were aged 65 and over.

The High Plains population is similar to the state as a whole. Slightly less than half of the region’s residents (48.8 percent) were aged 25 to 64 in 2007. About 38.8 percent were under the age of 25, while 12.4 percent were aged 65 and over (Exhibit 15).2

Exhibit 15

Texas and High Plains Population by
Age, 2007

Texas and High Plains Population by Age, 2007

(Population by Age, Text Alternative)

While persons aged 65 and over accounted for a slightly higher percentage of the High Plains population, that group grew at a slower rate. From 2002 to 2007, the portion of the region’s population aged 65 and over grew by just 0.5 percent; for the state as a whole, this population rose by 11.6 percent.


In 2007, an estimated 47.8 percent of all Texans were White; 36 percent were Hispanic; 11.3 percent were Black; and another 4.9 percent were members of other ethnicities. In the High Plains region, 59.6 percent of residents were White; 32.0 percent were Hispanic; 5.6 percent were Black; and another 2.8 percent fell into other ethnicities (Exhibit 16).3

The region’s Hispanic population is growing, but more slowly than the state’s. From 2002 to 2007, the Texas Hispanic population in Texas rose by 18.9 percent, compared to 11.8 percent in the High Plains. Unlike the state, however, the number of Whites in the High Plains region declined from 2002 to 2007, by 2.2 percent.

The region has a lower concentration of Hispanics than the state as a whole, but higher than the nation. Blacks are underrepresented in the High Plains region compared both to the state and the nation.

Exhibit 16

Texas and High Plains Population by
Ethnicity, 2007

Texas and High Plains Population by Ethnicity, 2007

(Population by Ethnicity, Text Alternative)

This pattern can be illustrated by a common measure in economic and demographic analysis, the “location quotient” (LQ). A LQ is a ratio that compares the concentration of a given group (by ethnicity or age, for instance) in a location with a state or national average. A LQ of more than 1.0 indicates that the demographic category is overrepresented in the region under study, compared to the state or national average; a LQ of less than 1.0 indicates that the demographic category is underrepresented. Exhibit 17 shows that the High Plains has a higher concentration of Hispanics when compared to the nation and a lower concentration when compared to the state.

While Hispanics make up a smaller share of the High Plains region than in the state as a whole, they represent a young and growing portion of the population.

Exhibit 18 examines the region’s 2007 population in five-year increments; people in these age groups were those aged five to nine, 10 to 14 and so forth. The LQs used compare the region to national averages.

In all the groups under the age of 25, the LQ for the region’s Hispanics exceeded 1.0, indicating higher concentrations of younger Hispanics than the national average. At the other end of the age scale, the region had relatively fewer Hispanics in the oldest two age groups.

The 2007 location quotient for non-Hispanics, on the other hand, was greater than 1.0 for all age groups at or above 60 years of age. The region’s share of non-Hispanics over the age of 70 was more than 17 percent above the national average.4

Exhibit 17

Location Quotients by Race: Comparing the
High Plains to Texas and the Nation, 2007

Location Quotients by Race

(Location Quotients by Race, Text Alternative)

These broad demographic trends can have important implications. It appears that the High Plains region will have a significant advantage in its readily available population of young workers in the near future. The region, however, will have to educate a relatively large number of children while facing the demands of a growing population. And while a relatively high number of older citizens can support the economy with Social Security and other retirement spending, they also put increasing pressures on the region’s health care facilities.


The median income for all Texas households in 2005 was $42,139.5 Of the 41 counties in the High Plains region, Roberts County had the highest median household income at $54,091, while Dickens County had the lowest at $26,645. Lubbock County, where the city of Lubbock is located, had a 2005 median household income of $35,150. Randall and Potter counties, where Amarillo is located, had median household incomes of $47,356 and $30,316 respectively (Exhibit 19).6

Famous People From the High Plains

Exhibit 18

Location Quotients by Age, Hispanic vs. Non-Hispanic, 2007

Location Quotients by Age

(Location Quotients by Age, Text Alternative)

Exhibit 19

Median Household Income,
State of Texas and Selected
Counties, 2005

Median Household Income

(Median Household Income, Text Alternative)

Exhibit 20

High Plains Metro Counties

High Plains Metro Counties

(High Plains Metro Counties, Text Alternative)


Most of the High Plains region’s population resides in a metropolitan area. Of the 41 counties in the High Plains region, six are in metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). MSAs are defined by a large population nucleus, along with adjacent communities that have a high degree of social and economic integration with that core. The Amarillo MSA includes Armstrong, Carson, Potter and Randall counties, while the Lubbock MSA includes Crosby and Lubbock counties (Exhibit 20).7

These metro counties accounted for 62.5 percent of the region’s population in 2007. The state as a whole had a higher percentage of metropolitan residents; 87.0 percent of the Texas population resided in metro areas in 2007. Like the state, however, the region’s metro population is growing faster than the rest of the region. From 2002 to 2007, the region’s metro county populations rose by 3.7 percent, while the nonmetro counties grew by just 1.0 percent.8

Punkin Days Festival in Floydada

Exhibit 21

Educational Attainment of Residents Aged 25 and
Over, 2002-2012, High Plains, Texas and U.S.
Averages, Average Years of Education

Educational Attainment

(Educational Attainment, Text Alternative)

Educational Attainment

High Plains residents aged 25 or over had completed an estimated average of 12.8 years of education in 2007, slightly below the Texas average of 13.1 years. The national average, 13.5 years, was nearly five percent higher than that for the High Plains (Exhibit 21).

This educational gap is likely to widen slightly in the near future. The Comptroller’s office projects that the average years of education for High Plains residents aged 25 and over will rise slightly by 2012, to 12.9, but the U.S. average will rise to 13.5. In other words, educational attainment in the High Plains region was 95.2 percent of the national average in 2007, but will fall to 95.0 percent by 2012.

Educational attainment varies by race and ethnicity. Exhibit 22 presents the region’s average years of education by ethnicity in 2007 and the expected levels in 2012. Asians, Whites and other ethnicities show above-average years of educational attainment in both years, while Blacks and Hispanics fall below the average.

Future Growth

Over the next five years, the Comptroller’s office expects the High Plains region’s population to rise by more than 50,000, reaching a total of nearly 854,700 by 2012. Yet growth will vary considerably across the region.

Exhibit 22

High Plains Region Average Educational Attainment by Ethnicity, Persons Aged 25 and Over

Ethnicity Average Years of Education
per Capita 2007
Average Years of Education
per Capita 2012
Percent Region
Average, 2007
Percent Region
Average, 2012
Asian 15.1 15.2 117.7% 118.4%
White 13.5 13.5 104.9% 105.3%
Other 13.2 13.3 102.9% 103.3%
Black 12.6 12.6 98.3% 98.4%
Hispanic 11.2 11.3 87.6% 87.9%
Region Average 12.8 12.9

Note: Numbers may not total due to rounding.
Source: Economic Modeling Specialists Inc.

Differing population growth around the region will reflect varying demographic profiles, economic factors, occupational needs and educational levels. These differences will produce different economic and demographic outlooks for areas within the region.

The population of the Amarillo metropolitan statistical area, consisting of Armstrong, Carson, Potter and Randall counties, will rise by 12.4 percent by 2012 outpacing the state; Lubbock County will see more moderate growth of 5.2 percent. Population growth will be somewhat slower in the region’s remaining counties. There, total population should rise by just 3.7 percent by 2012, from 300,900 to 311,900 (Exhibit 23).

Exhibit 23

High Plains Region: Actual and Projected Population Increase, 2007-2012

Population Increase

(Population Increase, Text Alternative)

Public Safety in the High Plains

Crime Rate – High Plains Region and Texas, 2005 and 2006

Crime 2005 High Plains Crime Rate 2005 Texas Crime Rate 2006 High Plains Crime Rate 2006 Texas Crime Rate High Plains Change in Crime Rate Texas Change in Crime Rate
Murder 3.8 6.1 3.3 5.9 -12.9 -3.3
Rape 38.9 37.2 40.8 35.8 5.0 -3.8
Robbery 89.6 156.5 105.4 158.5 17.6 1.3
Assault 450.3 329.6 455.9 316.8 1.2 -3.9
Violent Crime Rate 582.6 529.5 605.5 531.6 3.9 0.4
Burglary 992.3 960.6 975.2 916.3 -1.7 -4.6
Larceny 3,027.9 29.6 2,783.3 2,752.8 -8.1 -6.9
Auto Theft 297.2 408.7 289.2 4.7 -2.7 -0.4
Property Crime Rate 4,317.4 4,325.3 4,047.7 4,191.6 -6.2 -3.1
Total Crime Rate 4,900 4,854.8 4,653.2 4,593.1 -5.0 -5.4

Source: Texas Department of Public Safety.


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