While the Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported Delta County as having the lowest national weekly wage average at $378. Statistically, this has created confusion among the population.
Delta County is primarily an agricultural county with other major employers being Cooper Independent School District, Cooper Home Health, Birchwood Nursing and Rehabilitation, Delta County and City of Cooper. For example Cooper Home Health employs an average of 40 in Delta County but company-wide employs 550. CISD is the leading employer in Delta County with an average 130 employees.
Upon contacting the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages program, the numbers were based on a survey of “covered workers who worked during, or received pay for, the pay period that included the 12th day of the month. Virtually all workers are reported in the State in which their jobs are located.”
The report released has conditions in which “it excludes proprietors, the unincorporated self-employed, unpaid family members, and certain farm and domestic workers.” This calculation caused a curve the overall average.
“I am gracious for any company [to come to Delta County] as long as it is legal and run legally,” said Delta County Economic Corporation President Derrell London. “I think with the expansion of State Highway 24, we will be the new hub of Northeast Texas.”
The figures in the report also do not include the number of County residents who travel to another location outside of the County for work. The BLS has a large staff making the report accurate; however, many of the statistics remain confidential. Delta County is also one of the smallest counties included in the survey which stated the majority of U.S. counties were below the national average of $958 for average weekly wages.
The data is “derived from the quarterly tax reports submitted to State workforce agencies by employers, subject to State UI laws and from Federal agencies subject to the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) program.”
Among the U.S. counties, the highest average weekly wage went to San Mateo, California with $1,983. Larger neighboring counties to Delta in Texas were reported as Hopkins with $703, Hunt with $847 and Lamar with $745. Wheeler County, similar in population with over 5,400 to Delta County, was reported as $712 average wage and Throckmorton County with a population of just over 1,600 had an average wage of $581.
“It is hard to get the older generation to welcome industry, but it is getting better and it shows in the support the EDC has received,” added London.
Does Delta County really have the lowest average wage? Sometimes conclusions must be derived from more than just numbers.
To view the original interactive map, go to http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2014/ted_20140718.htm .
A more in-depth table breaking down Delta County specifically can be located at this website: http://www.bls.gov/cew/apps/table_maker/v1/table_maker.htm#type=11&year=2013&qtr=A&own=5&area=48119&supp=1&zeros=1.