Incomes continue to rise, but Texans of color still seeing a gap

On the economic front, 2016 was a year of modest improvements for Texas residents. Incomes continued to creep up. Overall poverty slightly dipped. The share of poor children in some areas of the state with the highest rates of child poverty dropped.

But U.S. Census estimates also underlined a familiar narrative of income inequality within the state’s borders: Some Texans of color continue to be left behind when it comes to economic improvement.

The median household income in Texas last year hit $56,565 — up almost 2 percent from 2015. That’s fairly close to the national figure but still puts Texas behind 24 other states with higher median household incomes.

In 2016, median household incomes increased for all of the state’s major racial and ethnic groups. Household incomes for white and Asian Texans — at $70,131 and $82,081, respectively — easily surpassed the state figure. But black and Hispanic households, whose median household incomes don’t cross the $45,000 line, still bring home less money.

Despite a sharp drop in poverty in 2015, the state’s overall decline in poverty — down to 15.6 percent in 2016 compared with 15.9 percent in 2015 — was much more modest this year. That still translated to a few thousand fewer Texans classified as poor in 2016.

But the share of people living in poverty in half of the state’s 25 metro areas surpassed the state figure, and roughly half of the state’s metro areas saw increased poverty rates in 2016.