Community Status Report | Lubbock Area United Way

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Community Status Report

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Economics

United Ways across Texas fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in our community.

 

Poverty and Affordable Housing

Per the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income from 2014-2018 in Lubbock County was $50,473. Yet the estimated household survival budget for a family of four in Lubbock County is $51,864. (ALICE Report) This reflects the bare minimum a household needs to live and work today. It does not include savings for emergencies, future goals, or unexpected global pandemics.

Nearly one in five women (18.1%) aged 18+ in Lubbock County live in poverty compared to 16.2% of men. Almost 40% of multiracial or of another race live in poverty, and about 1/4 of Hispanic and Black women are in poverty. (YWCA)

“High housing costs weigh more heavily on low-income families, who are more likely to struggle with finding affordable housing, often spending more than 30% of pretax income on a home, whether they rent or own. Paying too much for housing limits the resources families have for other necessities such as child care, food, health care and transportation, as well as their ability to save and achieve financial stability.” (Kids Count)

Despite rising poverty rates and the struggle to find affordable housing, the Lubbock housing market continues to have positive growth. The median price for homes in 2019 was $175,000 and there were 4,513 total sales. (TAMU) Of the 130,773 housing units in Lubbock County, 55.2% are owner occupied. 

 

Federal Minimum Wage

As previously stated, wages are not keeping pace with increases in cost of living across the nation. Thus, making it difficult for families to afford basic necessities and overcome systemic poverty. In 2018, the federal minimum wage of $7.25 was worth 14.8 percent less than when it was last raised in 2009, after adjusting for inflation and 28.6 percent below its peak value in 1968, when the minimum wage was the equivalent of $10.15 in 2018 dollars. (Economic Policy Institute)

“Even a full-time job at a low wage does not necessarily lift a family out of poverty. Not only does the federal minimum wage – last increased July 2009 – fail to provide a livable income, it is insufficient to provide families with any possible mobility out of poverty. Without access to benefits and tax credits, a single parent with two children would need to earn $9.87 per hour - $2.62 more than the current federal minimum wage – working full time for 50 weeks per year just to reach the poverty level.(Kids Count)

 

Lubbock Economic Index

End of 2019
  •  General real spending per sales tax numbers was up more than 4%.
  •  Auto sales saw a near 7% increase year-over-year with more than $944 million going toward vehicle purchases. December alone saw a 26% increase in dollars spent compared to 2018.
  • Hotel/motel spending increased nearly 4%.
  • Travel at Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport jumped 8% with 544,257 people passing through.
  • Building permit valuation total was up 27% for the year, equaling more than $826 million.
  • Home sales were up a modest 3%, but saw a 13% bump in December. Overall, 4,478 homes were sold in 2019, with the average cost coming in at $209,127 for the year. 

(Lubbock Avalanche-Journal and Lubbock National Bank)

Since COVID-19
  • More than 17,000 people lost their jobs between March and April; more than 11% of Lubbock’s existing positions.
  • April and May showed the largest month-to-month changes in the economic index since its inception, at 3.6 and 3.2 points respectively. As of the end of May, Lubbock’s economic index value is 152.9.
  • “The airport showed a 50% drop in airline travel in March, a precursor to the staggering drop-off in April: in the whole month, only 2,345 people boarded a plane in Lubbock. The airport usually anticipates 40,000 passengers a month.” (Fox34)
  • New housing construction remains strong with double-digit percentage year-over-year increases from January - May 2020.

(Lubbock National Bank, May 2020)

The Lubbock unemployement rate fell to 3.1% in 2018 compared to a 3.2% rate in 2017. (Texas Workforce Commission) 
Yet, the rate jumped to 10.0% in April 2020 during COVID-19. (U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics)

Where are the jobs?

 

Economic Mobility

Through their Elderly Outreach and Parent Empowerment Programs (PEP), Catholic Charities aims to assist low-income families with services to help them become as financially independent as possible. They assisted 423 individuals in 2019.

Goodwill Industries’ mission is to create job opportunities for people with barriers to employment. Their Training, Placement, and Life-Skills (T-PALS program) served 408 individuals in 2019. This program carries out their belief that an individual’s life, the lives of their family, and their community as a whole, can be changed for the better through their ability to earn a steady paycheck.

Assisting families and individuals with getting out of poverty is key to community success. Living in poverty isn’t the result of a lack of hardwork. It is often the result of a collection of broken systems that are difficult to navigate. 

Poverty is proven to have negative impacts on educational success, chronic illness, physical and emotional well-being, employment opportunities, homelessness, food insecurity, lack of healthcare, and so much more. 

That is why equitable systems designed to assist families with economic mobility are crucial to improving South Plains communities.

 

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