They may seem like a small corner of a large state, but Tyler and Longview are an important part of the state and national economy. Together, both metropolitan areas had a population of 445,208 at the end of 2017. The area is “a manufacturing hub with an energy underpinning,” according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Let’s look at what makes the area a place where healthcare, retail and manufacturing thrive.
A Little East Texas History
Geographically Tyler and Longview are 40 miles apart, but they’re stitched together by the smaller communities in between. They’re also connected by industry overlap.
Both started out as agricultural communities. In 1870, Longview town founder Ossamus Hitch Methvin sold 100 acres for a dollar to the Southern Pacific Railroad so they’d build their line through his part of town. The next year Longview became the first town in Gregg County, and the Railroad brought growth to the entire region.
In Tyler, fruit orchards thrived until 1900, when disease wiped out over a million fruit trees. Tyler farmers started growing roses, and in less than two decades, provided most of the nation’s supply.
Then, in 1930 prospectors discovered a gigantic oil field around Kilgore. The enormous quantities of “black gold” extracted from the East Texas Oil Field were crucial to the Allied effort in World War II and led to what was, at the time, the world’s largest oil field and pipeline.
The region’s oil led to Tyler’s metal and fabricating industry growth. In Longview, the state’s largest chemical complex developed, along with a brewery and other industrial plants.
Top East Texas Employers
The area continues to experience steady growth, but some industries stand out. Health services employs more East Texans than any other industry, with more than 34,000 employees. In Tyler, UT Health Center (formerly ETMC) and Christus Trinity Mother Frances provide jobs for over 6,700. Longview’s Christus Good Shepherd Medical Center employs 2,500.
Brookshire Grocery Company calls Tyler Texas home. Tyler also has a Target Distribution Center. In Longview, there’s a Neiman Marcus service center, and Dollar General is building a regional distribution hub.
Technology improvements made it profitable to extract natural gas through hydraulic fracturing and directional drilling in East Texas counties. Energy and mining is still an active sector, providing area residents with jobs that pay 60 percent above average for the area. Machinery manufacturing and fabricated metal manufacturing also supply a significant portion of area jobs.
East Texas vs. the State
Compared to state averages, the Tyler-Longview area is ahead in some areas and behind in others. Area population is older. Twelve percent of the state’s population is 65 or older, but in East Texas, 15.5 percent of residents have blown out 65 candles.
A smaller portion of East Texas is between 25 and 54 years of age. Retirees are moving in because of mild weather and excellent healthcare, with some younger people drifting to larger cities for a more urban lifestyle.
East Texas opportunities in healthcare, manufacturing, construction, retail and energy mean workers don’t have to complete a college degree to find a good job. In the area, 22.4 percent of those over 25 have a four-year degree, compared to 28.9 percent across the state. Fewer residents have a college degree, but the number of high school graduates is higher than state average.
East Texas is rich in opportunity, and employers are looking for workers at all skill levels. Some of those jobs are at Brelsford Personnel. Check out our online postings to find your next job today.