A U.S. Postal Service employee walks along San Pedro Avenue. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

The median income for San Antonio exceeded the $50,000 mark for the first time in 10 years, yet still lags behind national and state averages, new data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows.

The median income for a household in San Antonio in 2017 was $50,044, according to the data released Thursday. That represents a 1.6 percent increase from a median income of $49,268 in 2016.

However, San Antonio’s median income fell behind other major Texas cities such as Houston ($50,896), Dallas ($50,627), and Austin ($67,755). State and county incomes also were higher. Bexar County’s median income hit $54,175 from $53,210 in 2016, and median incomes for the State were $59,206, which was up 4.5 percent from $56,565. Nationally, median incomes rose 2.6 percent to $60,336.

Breaking down San Antonio’s median income by demographic groups shows Asians earning the most ($61,858), followed by whites ($51,863), Hispanics of any race ($45,022), and blacks ($34,896).

“Texas isn’t entirely missing out on some of the positive economic growth of the news we’ve had nationally,” said Kristie Tingle, research analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP), an Austin-based nonprofit policy institute.

But Tingle said median incomes don’t paint the whole picture when compared to how much more top earners gain year over year compared to bottom earners. According to Tingle’s research, people in Texas’ top income brackets see big gains yearly, while those who earn the least gain less.

Unfortunately, Tingle said, many Texans are left behind in terms of their ability to meet their families’ needs.

“If you’re looking at real income, earners in the bottom fifth [percentile] are actually losing money,” she said noting that extra attention to jobs and skills training could help San Antonio catch up to other Texas cities.

“If a population isn’t being trained for jobs that give them those wages, if that’s not happening at a high level in San Antonio or a level equal to the rest of the U.S., then that means that San Antonio is going to continue lagging behind,” she said.

Developing an educated workforce that could attract higher wages has been a focus of various City and County initiatives, especially in light of several corporate leaders’ decisions to choose Austin over San Antonio as the locus of their technology operations.

Earlier this month, H-E-B announced a decision to locate its technology headquarters in Austin. The decision is the most recent in a string of similar choices by industry leaders. In July, Austin also was chosen as the site of the U.S. Army Futures Command, which will develop new wartime technologies. Last year, USAA also chose downtown Austin as the site to launch its digital design studio.

In April, Mayor Ron Nirenberg announced he expected to create 70,000 jobs in San Antonio during the next two years, as a result of the efforts of the Economic Development Department and the Blue Chips Jobs Council, an informal group of local business leaders focused on recruiting corporations to invest in San Antonio.

“The time has come for us to put more ideas into action,” Nirenberg said at the 2018 State of the City address, “and that starts with creating jobs.

“Our regulatory environment should encourage more investment, not less.”

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Emily Royall

Emily Royall is the Rivard Report's former data director.