New data from the 2010 U.S. Census reveals the greater McAllen-Edinburg-Mission metropolitan area has the highest poverty rate in the country of any community its size or larger at 37.7 percent.The McAllen metro area has dealt with high poverty levels for decades but new 2010 census data shows it's still on the bottom of the list.
UTPA professor of finance Dr. Dave Jackson says one of the main reasons is the lack of education.
"If you think about that and people being qualified for high paying jobs, it's just not happening here," Jackson said.
Jackson says less than 15 percent of adults in the valley have a bachelor's degree.
"There are perhaps factories, and other kind of industries that would like to move to the valley but they are unable to do so because the lack of a qualified work force. They have to be trained to do the job," Jackson said.
A retail based economy with 12 percent unemployment, community leaders are trying to bring in more manufacturing jobs but with a weak national economy it is no easy task.
"It's very difficult, particularly this year to bring manufacturing jobs to our community when virtually all industries are putting expansion on hold to see what will happen with the election and what federal laws will impact businesses, McAllen city commissioner Scott Crane said.
As one of the least expensive places to live in the country, Jackson says the numbers paint a bleaker picture.
"Someone who is at or close to the poverty level here in McAllen, their standard of living will be significantly better than someone in say San Francisco or Miami because the cost of living is so much less here, Jackson said.The Washington DC metro area had the lowest poverty rate at 8.3 percent.