Back-to-School: McAllen’s Education Labor Sector Meets the Challenge

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McAllen has some major labor sectors that drive the city’s economy and employment opportunities. Health services, government, and retail make up the three largest clusters.

Of these prominent industry clusters, government employees make up nearly a quarter of McAllen’s work force. While this might be expected because of our proximity to the border and the presence of federal employees in our community (i.e. Border Patrol), you might be surprised to find that employment in public schools makes up an overwhelming percentage of government workers. In fact, nearly 60 percent of all government employees work for elementary and secondary schools.

Between 2006 through 2014, the education sector was the fastest growing amongst McAllen’s industry clusters.

McAllen ISD itself employs 3,445 personnel and 1,675 teachers that service 24,254 students across more than 30 campuses. In 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted several important facts about the employment opportunities available for educators in the McAllen metropolitan area including:

  • Above average concentration of employment was found in many occupations within the education, training, and library group.
  • Middle school teachers, except special and career/technical education, were employed at 2.9 times the national rate in McAllen.
  • This rate for secondary teachers stood at 2.4 times the national average.
  • McAllen had 25, 960 jobs in education, training, and library that accounted for 10.4 percent of local area employment. This percentage is notably higher than the 6.2-percent national rate.
  • The mean wage for this occupational group was $22.68.
  • Some of the higher-paying positions include instructional coordinators and postsecondary English language and literature teachers with mean annual wages of $71,150 and $68,220.

A Leading Sector for the Metropolitan Area

Since 2000, the education and health services sectors have been the fastest growing clusters in the McAllen metro area, adding 44,800 net jobs to the region. This number accounts for 47 percent of all net jobs added to the McAllen Housing Market Area.

The Comprehensive Housing Market Analysis of the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission metro area (as of April 1, 2017) states that during the 3-year forecast period, “nonfarm payrolls are expected to increase by an average of 2.0 percent annually [with the] education and health services and wholesale and retail trade sectors expected to continue to lead nonfarm job growth.”

While the education sector in the McAllen metro area will continue to play a significant industry leading role for employment, it is also worth noting that this trend is seen across a larger region known as the Lower Rio Grande Valley Workforce Development Area. This region includes the counties of Starr, Hidalgo, and Willacy.

A report of this region, released in July 2017, found that employment in education and health services accounted for nearly 44% of total employment, with a staggering 119,737 individuals employed in these fields across these three counties.

The study also noted that the percentage change in these industries from 3rd to the 4th quarter in 2016 was 4.9% and 2.1% growth for the entire year.

When you consider that the Rio Grande Valley has 32 independent school districts, as well as multiple charter schools and private schools that serve more than 300,000 students together, the enormity and potential for employment opportunities and its effect on the overall economy of the region is huge.

With the city of McAllen as the leading hub of the region, it is vital that we take advantage of all economic opportunities that come with this increasingly growing number.

An Educated Population

Of course, the education sector does not simply include primary and secondary districts. The city of McAllen and its metro area is home to numerous colleges, universities, and vocational schools.

  • South Texas College with three campuses in McAllen, one campus in Weslaco, another in Rio Grande City, as well as three teaching centers and one virtual campus, employs over 1,800 locals.
  • The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, with its campuses and satellite sites in Edinburg, Brownsville, and McAllen employs over 2,800 individuals.
  • Texas A&M Higher Education Center in McAllen, when fully complete, will have more than 61,000 square feet of space including labs, classrooms, an auditorium, and various gathering spaces. The campus will employee educators and professionals to assist in students services and administrative support positions.

These college and universities are essential for the continued improvement of our economy and quality of life. The education and skill levels of the region’s workforce can drive prosperity throughout the entire Rio Grande Valley by attracting well-paying jobs and industries.

A Double Role That Helps McAllen Succeed

In order for the McAllen metro area to be competitive with the rest of the state and the nation, educational attainment must be at the forefront of our agenda. Thus, the education sector in the region plays an especially meaningful role for us by not only providing economic and employment opportunities to the population but by also helping to build a future generation of highly-skilled and educated workers.

Innumerable studies have shown that higher educational levels have a positive effect on the labor force and earnings.

Help us to spread this amazing message of McAllen’s education sector and all the amazing changes that the educators of our community are helping to create across our city and region.

And as always:

  1. Like, comment, and share “See You in McAllen” posts and tweets.
  2. Use #SeeYouInMcAllen on your own business posts and tweets.
  3. Pick up “Amigos” signage and point of sale brochures at the Chamber.
  4. Give your employees “Amigos” pins to wear at point of sale.
  5. Continue to deliver the warm welcomes and outstanding customer experiences our visitors have always counted on when they come to McAllen!

Visit SeeYouInMcAllen to learn more about the marketing collaboration between the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, the City of McAllen, and McAllen Economic Development Corporation.