DELTA COUNTY, TX -- At the bottom of an annual study showing the average weekly wages for every county in the United States is a Texas county, right here in Texoma.
The study released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in 2013, Delta County had the lowest average weekly wage of all the 3,000-plus counties in the United States at $378/per week. But when you dive into the numbers, that figure may not be completely accurate.
"When you look at the true numbers and see what they don't count, I could see where we could come into there," said Delta County Judge Herbert Brookshire.
"I hated to see us at the bottom of the list," said Cooper Mayor Scotty Stegall.
Many of the 5,200 residents who live in Delta County are either retired or work in nearby cities outside the county, which are both excluded from the study.
"If you are someone who lives in Delta County, but commutes outside of the county you would not be in this count, you would be in the count of the work site that you travel to," said David Hiles, Supervisor Economist for the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages program, which represents the data used in the Bureau of Labor Statistics study.
"There's a lot of commuters that live here," said Stegall. "They work in Greenville, Commerce, Paris, Sulphur Springs, even a lot drive to Dallas."
Local officials say the people of Delta County are close-knit and don't live there for work.
"They move here for the lifestyle they can have," said Brookshire. "They move here because of the schools, which we do have an outstanding school system, they move here for the rural lifestyle."
"If they need help, our people are here to help each other and you can't put a price tag on that," said Stegall.
Cooper is the county seat of Delta County, which is the location of the county's leading employer, Cooper I.S.D, that employs 130 people.
Based on the study, the national average in 2013 was $958, with San Mateo County, California coming in with the highest average weekly wage at $1,983.
Several other counties in the Texoma area fell in the lower tier of average weekly wages, which is under $587/per week, including Atoka ($567), Choctaw ($552), Coal ($587), Love ($581), Pushmataha ($517) and Red River ($570) Counties. With Collin County coming at the highest in Texoma at $1,116.
To view the interactive map for the study: http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2014/ted_20140718.htm
List of Texoma counties average weekly wages based on study:
Red River- $570