Profile: Lee County

Lee County is a small county in central Texas, with a population of 17,060 people and 6,830 jobs. The county’s population grew just 5% from 2006-2016 while the job base grew 26%.

The county’s population has shown minimal growth over the past decade due to the continued out-migration of residents.  Births average about 200 a year and slightly outpace deaths. For the first time in 2014, the county saw domestic in-migration and in 2016 there were over 100 domestic migrants.

Lee County is home to a slightly older population. According to the Census, 28% of Lee County’s population are residents between 45 and 64 years of age  (versus 26% for the U.S.) and 18% of county residents are 65 years or older (versus 15% for the U.S.). As a result, the county has lower concentrations of both 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, 72% are not naturalized US citizens.

Lee County’s population is 64% White, 22% Hispanic, and 12% Black. The three largest ancestral groups are German, Irish, and English.

According to the Census, 82% of residents had at least a high school degree and only 17% had a Bachelor’s degree or higher. These educational attainment statistics are lower than the U.S. average (89% high school, 30% Bachelor’s).

Lee County’s median household income was below the national average from 2005-2015, however it has been within 3% of the national average since 2012. The county’s median income was 98% of U.S. median household income in 2015.

The percent of overall population in poverty in Lee County has remained below national trends over the past decade. Between 2005 and 2015 overall population in poverty in Lee County decrease slightly from 12.6% to 12.4%. The percentage of children in poverty also decreased slight, going from 18.5% in 2005 to 18.2% in 2015.

Lee County has had average economic growth over the past decade, generally mirroring U.S. growth rates.  Lee County struggled slightly with the recession, losing 240 jobs in 2009, but has gained 1,300 jobs between 2011 and 2016.

The Lee County unemployment rate has fallen from its recent high of 7.2% in 2010 to 3.8% in 2016. The county rate has been consistently lower than the U.S. rate.

The largest industries in Lee County are:

  • Construction– 28% of county employment
  • Government – 19%
  • Trade, Transportation, and Utilities  – 15%
  • Natural Resources and Mining – 9%
  • Manufacturing – 6%

Employment in all major industries has grown over the past 5 years except Trade, Transportation, and Utilities, which declined 4%, and Government, which declined 0.2%.

Significant growth occurred in Professional and Business Services (+41%), Construction (+28%), Other Services (+27%), and Health Services (+22%).

The average salary in Lee County is 88% of the U.S. average and from 2010-2015 grew 13%, which was slightly more than the U.S. growth rate of 12%.

The county’s fastest growing salaries are in Leisure and Hospitality, Construction, and Financial Activities. Five average salaries declined between 2011 and 2016. Information declined by 33% while the U.S. average increased 26%.

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