Texas hotspots: Mapping the state’s economic health, county by county

Andrews County, a small county of just 15,554 residents in West Texas, might be one of the best places to live to in the entire state. Menard County, on the western edge of Central Texas, might be one of the worst.

This, according to an analysis of Texas counties’ socio-economic benchmarks conducted by the Austin Business Journal. The Texas Relative Economic Community Health Index, or TRECH, ranks the 254 Texas counties according to their relative rankings in six metrics from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey 5-Year Results including income, affordability and population trends.

Each county was ranked from 1 to 254 in each of the metrics. From there, the rankings were averaged together to give each county a unique TRECH Index score — with Williamson County achieving the highest rank among counties in the greater Austin region.

You can explore each county’s ranking in the interactive map embedded below this article. The counties are colored from red, for a bad TRECH score, to green, for a good TRECH score.

Generally speaking, counties with a good TRECH Index score can be said to have larger, growing populations in communities that are already affordable and are getting more so. Counties that landed in the top 25 percent of the TRECH Index had populations that were, on average, 60 percent larger in 2013 than the statewide county average. They also grew 53 percent faster than the statewide per-county average between 2010-2013, and had estimated median incomes 17.8 percent higher than the statewide per-county average.

Topping it off, they also shrank their percentage of residents who pay more than 30 percent or more of their income on housing by 2.9 percent. Statewide, Texas counties shrank their percentage of residents paying 30 percent or more of their income for housing by 0.53 percent (Yes, Virginia, Texas – as a whole – became more affordable between 2010-2013).

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