By SEAN BATURA
Regional and city officials say the latest American Community Survey (ACS) put out by the U.S. Census Bureau probably makes the city appear to be poorer than it is, due to the presence of Texas State students.
The recent data release contains two remarkable statistics about San Marcos — namely, that the city’s median household income decreased 20 percent during the last 10 years, and that median population age in the city is 13.5 years younger than the national average. Though the ACS indicates that the median national age increased 3.3 percent during the last 10 years, the survey indicates that the San Marcos median age of 23 years has remained flat during the same period.
The five-year ACS issued on Dec. 14 offers the most accurate information to date about the city’s population. The ACS includes demographic, economic, housing, and social characteristics averaged during five years between 2005 and 2009. In the absence of a full-blown census, information about an area the size of San Marcos must be gathered through several years to obtain any degree of accuracy.
The U.S. Census Bureau has released statewide population totals, but more detailed local information will be released in the coming months. Thus, the ACS does not include data from the 2010 U.S. Census, which stands to be the most accurate available.
Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) Director of Economic Development John Rees said the recession may be responsible for some of the 20 percent decrease in city median household income, though he said much of the decline may be attributed to the growth of Texas State.
The ACS said median household income in the city was $25,809 in 1999 and $26,585 from 2005-2009. Rees said the median income in San Marcos actually decreased 20 percent when factoring in inflation.
Rees said the university may also at least partially account for the young median age in the city and the increase in proportions of income devoted to paying rent.
The ACS indicates that the percentage of San Marcos families below the poverty level remains about the same as in 1999.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of San Marcos numbered 39,078 in 2001, 42,618 in 2002, 43,969 in 2003, 45,049 in 2004, 47,101 in 2005, 48,433 in 2006, 50,530 in 2007, 52,233 in 2008, and 53,205 in 2009. The 2009 figure represents data released through the 2010 Census.
The ACS indicates that the proportion of the city’s population aged 16 and older in the civilian labor force from 2005-2009 was 63.9 percent, amounting to an eight percent decrease since 2000.
Amy Madison, President and CEO of the Greater San Marcos Economic Development Corporation, said her organization has not discovered why many people seem to be dropping out of the work force.
“What we do know is that training is probably at the root of it,” Madison said. “Having an opportunity for our workforce in San Marcos to be trained and expand their capability is crucial to our future, and we feel that rather than entering the workforce, that some folks are remaining out of the workforce because they just don’t have the skills to get into the positions that are available.”
The ACS indicates that renters of housing units from 2005-2009 devoted more household income to housing costs than they did in 1999. Rees and Madison said the growth of the university may account for some of this increase. Texas State enrollment has about doubled in the last 10 years to more than 30,000 students.
“Our statistics in 2009 showed that our cost of living per capita income was very, very high,” Madison said. “But you have to understand, that has a lot to do with students. There’s a lot of rental property, there’s a lot of apartments and a lot of kids renting … San Marcos is blessed to have the university, but our statistics, at times, are somewhat skewed because of our student population here.”
In order to get an accurate profile of non-students, Rees said he attempted to geographically isolate and remove students from the ACS data. However, Rees said he was unsuccessful because more than 75 percent of students live off-campus, mixed with the general population.
Enrollment at Texas State increased 37 percent between 2000 and 2009. Texas State enrolled 30,803 students in fall 2009 and 32,573 students in fall 2010.
However, the ACS also indicates that homeowners from 2005-2009 devoted more income to housing costs than they did in 1999, and the proportions of households making less than $15,000 annually and more than $75,000 increased since 1999.
The ACS also shows that the proportion of city residents working in manufacturing-related fields declined 39 percent and sales and office occupations declined seven percent since 2000. The proportion of residents working in service occupations increased 20 percent since 2000. The educational, health and social services industries in San Marcos decreased 13 percent since 2000. The retail trade sector increased 16.6 percent since 2000. The arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation and food services sector increased 11.9 percent since 2000.Email | Print