Burnet County Gains Households, Wealth



Recently-released migration data indicates that people moving into Burnet County are substantially wealthier than those who are moving out.  From 2012 to 2013, the 1,405 households that left Burnet County had an average household income of $59,745, while the 1,631 households that moved into the county had an average household income of $103,579.

This data compilation appears on the Rural Capital Headlight web site, which is sponsored by Workforce Solutions – Rural Capital Area.  A special “thanks” goes to Chris Engle with Avalanche Consulting who helped clarify some of the formulas.

Another interesting bit of information released in the same newsletter relates to migration among the nine counties in the Rural Capital Area.  Burnet County, which gained 93 more households than it lost to the rest of the region, outpaced the net migration numbers of all other counties, including Bastrop (+65 households), Caldwell (+42), and Fayette, Hays, Lee, and Llano Counties—each with less than 10 net new households.  Blanco County actually lost 24 households to the rest of the region, and Williamson County lost a net 195 households to the other eight counties.

The households gained by Burnet County from the rest of the region came primarily from Williamson County (214 households) and Llano County (185 households).  In terms of out migration from 2012 to 2013, 182 households moved from Burnet County to Llano County and 149 moved to Williamson County.

For the sake of tracking incomes that moved across county lines, Travis County was added to the mix.  Interestingly, Burnet County gained the households with the highest and third-highest average household incomes in the region.  The households that moved from Llano County to Burnet County had an average household income of $214,346, and those moving from Travis County to Burnet County had an average HHI of $123,258.  Households that moved from Burnet County to Llano County and Travis County had an average HHI of $45,165 and $88,129, respectively.

What all of this data points to is the fact that Burnet County is a desirable place to live, even when considered against some of the fastest growing counties (Williamson and Hays especially) in the United States.  In the best case scenario, the people moving into Burnet County with much higher income levels than those leaving have come here because of good jobs.  Keep in mind that, while the Baylor Scott & White Hospital – Marble Falls did not open until this year, the clinic opened in 2013 and hired more than 60 people during the first couple of months of operation.

A more likely scenario, however, is that at least some of our in-migration is due to wealthy retirees moving into Burnet County, which continues a longstanding trend of people bringing money into the region that was earned outside the region.  This dynamic causes economic expansion, but it also puts pressure on the retail and service sectors to keep up and further exacerbates our affordability challenges—meaning that some people are being priced out of their homes.  According to Census data compiled by the Texas Relative Economic Community Health Index and reported in the Austin Business Journal, 30.4% of Burnet County households had housing costs greater than 30% of their household income; this percentage ranks 226 out of 254 counties in the state.

In sum, I’d say that it is great news that Marble Falls and Burnet County are gaining households and that those households tend to be wealthier than the ones that leave.  Our challenge, however, is clear: we need to increase and diversify our housing inventory to accommodate the people who want to be here, including residents and workers from all income levels.