Hidalgo County makes up the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission metro area in the Rio Grande Valley. This area has historically sustained relatively high unemployment. The area's joblessness rate has historically been about 3 percentage points higher than the statewide average. Annual employment growth also showed more variation over time than the state.
After record gains in 2010, the pattern of job growth in the area has followed much of the Texas state. In 2016, this region experienced solid economic performance along with 2 percent employment growth from the previous year. Reflected by local sales tax collections, the area's overall business conditions have remained strong.
Along with strong economic performance, the area's housing market has expanded steadily. Since 2009, construction of single-family homes has remained at about half of peak levels in 2005-2006. With a limited supply of new homes, home prices in this county have appreciated steadily over time.
Health care is the largest sector in Hidalgo County, making up more than 23 percent of the local workforce. The next largest employer is government, which accounts for one in five jobs.
Although slightly less than 2 percent of the area's workforce is involved in farming, this employment share is about one and a half times of the farming employment share nationwide. Since 2005, the relative sizes of the farming and mining sectors have in fact shrunk, while educational services have expanded at a rapid pace.
In addition to educational services, the pace of growth in the transportation, government, and health care sectors are all faster in this area than elsewhere in the nation.
Income earnings of residents in Hidalgo County are about 40 percent below the state average. This large income gap is associated with its workforce's substantially lower educational attainment. Only 17 percent of the adult population in the area has completed a college degree, compared to nearly 30 percent nationwide.
Since 2011, local population growth has slowed down due mostly to outmigration. A mobile workforce promotes economic vibrancy of the region, but a slow growing market base may put a damper on local business development. Business formation has slowed down since 2007. In 2016, there were 14.6 business establishments per 1,000 residents in the area, compared with 23.2 for the Texas state as a whole.