Fayette County is a small, rural county in central Texas with a population of 25,150 people and 9,180 jobs. The county’s population grew 12% from 2006 to 2016 and the job base grew 7%.
The county’s population growth is entirely due to in-migration: over the last decade, Fayette County is one of the few in central Texas where deaths outpace births. Migration into the county peaked in 2008, was negative in 2009 and 2010, but has remained positive from 2011-2016.
Fayette County has a relatively older population with a smaller concentration of families. According to the Census, 28% of Fayette County’s population are residents between 45 and 64 years of age (versus 26% for the U.S.) and 25% of county residents are 65 years or older (versus 15% for the U.S.). As a result, the county has lower concentrations of both children and young adults than the nation. Of the total population, 93% were born in the United States, with 7% born abroad. Of the foreign-born population, 67% are not naturalized US citizens.
Fayette County’s population is 72% White, 20% Hispanic, and 6% Black. The three largest ancestral groups are German, Czech, and English.
According to the Census, 82% of Fayette County residents have a high school degree or higher and only 17% have a Bachelor’s degree or higher. These educational attainment statistics are lower than the U.S. average (89% high school, 30% Bachelor’s).
Fayette County’s median household income has remained below the U.S. average for the past decade, and was 95% of the US level in 2015.
The percent of overall population in poverty in Fayette County has remained slightly under national trends for most of the past decade. Recently, the gap has widened as overall poverty dropped from 13% in 2011 to 12% in 2015. The percentage of children in poverty was 18% in 2015.
Fayette County’s economy has performed on par with the U.S. over the past decade, creating new jobs every year except three. Fayette County has struggled with the recession, losing 440 jobs in 2009 and another 110 jobs in 2010 but gaining over 1000 from 2011-2014. In 2014, Fayette County’s Annual Growth Rate was 5% while the U.S. average was 2%. However, the county has lost jobs since then, losing 320 jobs in 2015 and 2016 combined.
The Fayette County unemployment rate has fallen from its recent high of 6.1% in 2010 to 3.3% in 2015. The unemployment rate rose slightly to 3.4% in 2016. The county rate has been consistently lower than the U.S. rate.
The largest industries in Fayette County are:
• Trade, Transportation, and Utilities – 25% of county employment
• Government– 17%
• Leisure and Hospitality – 12%
• Health Services – 12%
• Manufacturing – 10%
Employment has increased over the past 5 years in most of the major industries, with the exception of Government, which decreased by 8.1%.. The largest growth was in Construction which grew 39%. Professional and Business Services grew 19%, while Trade, Transportation, and Utilities grew 16%.
Of the industries that lost jobs, Other Services declined 12% from 2011-2016, while the U.S. declined 0.5%. Information employment dropped 6%, which grew 5% in the U.S.
The average salary in Fayette County is 70% of the U.S. average and from 2010-2015 grew 3%, which was far less growth than the U.S. growth rate of 12%.
The county’s fastest growing salaries are in Other Services, Construction, and Health Services & Private Education. Health Services salaries grew 17% from 2011-2016 compared to only 8% in the U.S.