Population change in Tyler and Texas will impact economic development and education

TYLER (TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH) - The Tyler area is seeing an ever growing Hispanic population but has one of the highest percentages of Hispanics without high school degrees in the state, Demographer Dr. Steve H. Murdock reported Monday.

From 2000 to 2010, the Tyler area's population grew by 20 percent to 209,714 people. In the last decade, the Tyler area saw 33.3 percent of its population growth come from white non-Hispanics and 66 from all minorities, including 47.3 percent for Hispanics, he said.

Murdock estimated that by 2050, 87 percent of Smith County's population growth will be because of the Hispanic population.

About 40 percent of Hispanic population have less than a high school degree in Texas, with 60 percent in the Tyler area. The local figure is higher than Houston and Dallas, which each saw about 50 percent of its Hispanic population without a high school degree, and about 28 percent in San Antonio, Murdock reported.

"It reinforced what we see out in the community," Price Arredondo, director of the Hispanic Business Alliance, said of Murdock's presentation Monday. He said the Hispanic population has an impact from an economic standpoint, as well as the educational system.

"We need to work as a community to create a better system," Arredondo said, adding that about 40 percent of students in kindergarten through 12th grade in Tyler are Hispanic. He said they can be a contributor or a burden to the community.

Arredondo said Tyler's high percentage rate of Hispanics without a high school degree took him back. "I knew it was high, but that number really opened my eyes," he said, adding that the community needs to focus more on pre-kindergarten programs, such as Ninos de Promesa, which teaches 3- and 4-year-old Spanish-speaking children English so they can enter into mainstream public schools.

Murdock said not only do changes need to be made to the public school system statewide, but also to the cost of public colleges and universities.

Murdock, director of the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas and the Allyn R. and Gladys M. Cline Professor of Sociology at Rice University, the first official state demographer of Texas before serving as director of the U.S. Bureau of the Census from 2007 to 2009. He presented the "Population Change in Texas and Tyler: Implications for Education and Economic Development" to a group of about 250 people Monday at a luncheon put on by the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce and the Tyler Area Business-Education Council.

"In the last decade, the Hispanic population has grown significantly more than any other group in Texas and the country and will continue to do so in the coming decades.

"The Hispanic population will exceed, by far, that of every other population group," he said. "The future of Texas is tied to its minority populations. And how well they do is how well Texas will do and how well the U.S. will do," he said.

Based on 2010 Census data, there was a 4.2 percent growth of the white/non-Hispanic population in the country and 42 percent growth of the Hispanic population in the past decade. About 10 percent of the state's growth is due to the Anglo population while about 85 percent is Hispanic, he said.

Of the population 18 and older in Texas, one-third is Hispanic, while one-third of the state's children are white and one-half are Hispanic, he said.

Murdock said the country saw a net decline of about 4.3 million Anglo children from 2000 to 2010, and a 4.8 million growth in Hispanic kids. All 50 states in the U.S. had an increase in the Hispanic population of children while 46 of 50 states had a decline in the number of Anglo children.

"These demographic characteristics are tied to socioeconomic characteristics," he said. When the population demographic changes, the socioeconomic factors, such as education and employment, also must change, he added.

Murdock said the average household in the U.S. was significantly poorer in 2010 than in 1999, and there is a three-to-one poverty rate in Texas. He said if the population changes the way they believe it will and the income levels don't change with it, the average American household will be $7,759 poorer in 2050, compared to 2010. But if the country can get its educational levels for all population groups up, it could see the poverty level drop, he said.

While Texas did a lot better than the country with its percentage change for civilian employment for people 16 years and older, the Tyler area didn't fare as well as the state in most employment fields, Murdock said.

Murdock projected that there will be 420 million people in the U.S. by 2050, compared to 308 million in 2010. By then, he suspects the Anglo population will decline by 18 million people while the Hispanics will increase by 78.3 million and African Americans will grow by 17 million.

Texas may have 55 million people by 2050, made up of 22 percent Anglo, 9 percent African American, 56 percent Hispanic and 13 percent Asian and other groups, he said.

Murdock said Smith County also will see a decline in its Anglo population but will still have a "fairly substantial" amount of white residents. Smith County will see large increases in its Hispanic and Asian populations by 2050, he said.


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