Seven Texan cities appear in the study’s top 10 where a six-figure salary goes the furthest. Photo by Alexander Mils on Unsplash

Many people daydream about making six figures in their career before they enter the workforce. But the rising cost of living certainly throws a wrench in the works. Luckily for Texans, a six-figure salary still goes pretty far in the state.

In a new report from SmartAsset, a $100,000 salary in Texas is worth an average of $77,885 after taxes and adjusted for the cost of living. The financial technology company analyzed income in 76 United States cities, and adjusted them for the cost of living in each location.

Seven Texan cities appear in the study’s top 10 where a six-figure salary goes the furthest. Houston ranked No. 6 as the fourth Texas city on the list, after El Paso (No. 2), Corpus Christi (No. 4), and Lubbock (No. 5). A Houstonian's six-figure salary is reduced to $74,515 after taxes, but is technically worth $81,350 when adjusted for the cost of living.

In a three-way tie with San Antonio for No. 7, a person who makes $100,000 a year in Fort Worth and Arlington takes home about $74,515 after taxes. When adjusted for the cost of living, which is seven percent lower than the national average, that money is worth $80,124.

Dallas appears at No. 34 on the list, with the average six-figure earner bringing home $72,345 after taxes. That salary shrinks in the northern Dallas suburb of Plano (No. 59), where the worker brings home $59,422.

The place where $100,000 goes the furthest is Memphis, Tennessee. Much like Texas, Tennessee doesn’t have a state income tax and has a lower cost of living in comparison to the national average.

After Memphis is El Paso, followed by Oklahoma City (No. 3), then Corpus Christi, Lubbock, and Houston. After the Texan three-way tie for No. 7, St. Louis, Missouri rounds out the top 10.

The 10 total Texas cities that appear in SmartAsset’s study include:

  • No. 2 – El Paso
  • No. 4 – Corpus Christi
  • No. 5 – Lubbock
  • No. 6 – Houston
  • No. 7 – Fort Worth, Arlington, San Antonio (tied)
  • No. 24 – Austin
  • No. 34 – Dallas
  • No. 59 – Plano

The report and its methodology can be found on SmartAsset’s website.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Are you making $11,000 more this year? According to this report, that's the difference between living comfortably in the Houston area between this year and 2022. Photo via Getty Images

This is how much money you need to live comfortably in Houston, new study finds

money wise

Inflation is high, interest rates are skyrocketing, and honestly, just existing is expensive. Whether it be the price of eggs or a new car, trying to have a financially stable life in one of America’s largest metropolitan areas is becoming more and more difficult.

So, how much money do you need to make to live comfortably in the greater Houston area? Approximately $62,260 a year post-tax, according to a new study by financial tech company SmartAsset.

That’s over an $11,000-plus increase from their previous annual report, where Houston residents only needed to make $51,148 a year post-tax to live comfortably in the area.

Their experts collected data from MIT’s Living Wage Calculator to determine the cost of living for a childless individual in the 25 largest American metro areas. They also used the 50/30/20 budgeting strategy to figure out what a “comfortable lifestyle” meant for the purpose of their study: 50 percent of their income goes to a person’s needs/living expenses, 30 percent to a person’s wants, and 20 percent for their savings or paying down debt.

To live a financially stable life, a childless Houstonian would need to spend $31,130 of their salary on their living expenses, $18,678 for discretionary expenses, and put $12,452 toward their savings or debt payments.

Susannah Snider, SmartAsset’s managing editor of financial education, says in the study that budgeting should be the “bedrock of many people’s financial plans.”

“And it’s especially essential to understand and track your spending when the cost of everyday items is rising,” said Snider. “Being able to stick to a 50/30/20 budget means you have enough to fund short- and long-term goals while paying for essential living expenses.”

To live comfortably in the largest metro areas in the United States, on average, an individual would need to make $68,499 a year after taxes, which is a 20 percent increase from 2022. And, according to the report, salaries aren't rising like inflation.

"While salaries increased 5.1 percent between December 2021 and December 2022, wage growth couldn’t keep up with inflation, which averaged 8 percent in 2022," per SmartAsset.

In other Texas metro areas, like Dallas and San Antonio, a person would need to make $64,742 and $59,270, respectively, a year post-tax.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Here's how the Bayou City ranks on list comparing longest commute times. Photo by Manuel Velasquez on Unsplash

Houston gets a surprising brake on new list of U.S. cities with worst commute

tick, tock

Given the continuous gridlock Houston drivers face, it would be safe to assume our fair city faces the worst commute time in Texas and the even the nation. Not so.

A new report by SmartAsset ranks a surprising Texas city as the worst in the Lone Star State for commute time: Garland. The north Texas city ranked No. 3 in the nation for longest commute time, according to the SmartAsset survey.

Garland ranked No. 3 worst, only out-trafficked by two California cities — Stockton and Bakersfield — which came in first and second, respectively. (Another shocker: Los Angeles didn't lead the list, which landed at No. 25.)

Houston doesn't appear until much further down the list at No. 23 — tied with Dallas. The average commute time in Houston is 26.1 minutes, while 5.8 percent of Houstonians face a "severe" commute of 60 minutes or more. Houstonians spend a tiny bit more of their income on transportation costs than Dallas drivers do (9.9 percent vs. 9 percent). In Dallas, the average commute time in Dallas is 25.7 minutes; 6.5 percent of Dallasites face a "severe" commute.

The only other Texas city to land in the top 10 is El Paso, which comes in seventh. The city ranks second overall for transportation costs relative to income, with commuters paying 14.13 percent of their median household income for transportation in the city and surrounding areas, SmartAsset says.

Elsewhere in Texas, city rankings were:

  • Arlington, No. 33
  • Fort Worth, No. 47
  • Irving, No. 50
  • Plano, No. 52
  • San Antonio, No. 55
  • Lubbock, No. 61
  • Austin, No. 64
  • Corpus Christi, No. 78
  • Laredo, No. 81

Interestingly, SmartAsset notes, despite the rise in remote work the past few years, the average commute time went down by only one minute in five years. The national average decreased from 26.6 minutes in 2016 to 25.6 minutes in 2021, they say, while the percentage of remote workers has tripled in about half the time.

"Workers in 2023 will average almost 222 hours (or a little over nine days) driving to and from work," the report says. "And these hours spent in transit cost commuters more than just their time. The price of fuel, public transit passes and other commuter-related costs can add up quickly."

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

So this is how the other half lives. Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Here's the income it takes to live among the top 1 percent in Texas

isn't that rich?

Wondering how "the other half lives" is so outdated, especially when we we can easily peek into what life is like for the "one percent." A new report from SmartAsset reveals how much money you'll need to be considered the top one percent in Texas.

With two Houston suburbs landing among the richest cities in Texas in a recent report, it's obvious that the Lone Star State is dotted with pockets of wealth. But how much do you actually need in your pocket to have a top one percent income?

In Texas, an annual income of $641,400 will land you at the top, while $258,400 only gets you to the top five percent.

To come up with those numbers, SmartAsset analyzed 2019 data from IRS tax units and adjusted the figures to 2022 dollars using the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For comparison, "the average American household earns a median income of under $70,000," according to the study. And per the latest figures from the U. S. Census Bureau, the median household income in Texas (in 2021 dollars) is $67,321. That leaves plenty of us with a long way to go in our financial striving.

So now we know how we compare to our neighbors, but where does that put the affluent population of Texas in comparison with other states?

For starters, Texas claimed the 10th highest income required to reach top income levels.

The one percent income threshold is hardest to meet in Connecticut ($955,000), Massachusetts ($900,000), New Jersey ($825,965), New York ($817,796), and California ($805,519). Only these five states have thresholds that exceed $800,00, and it's a pretty steep drop down to Texas ($641,400) in 10th place.

The five states where it's easiest to attain one percent status (even though that doesn't seem like good news) are Kentucky ($447,300), Arkansas ($446,276), New Mexico ($418,970), Mississippi ($383,128), and West Virginia ($374,712).

The SmartAsset report also included average tax rates for top earners in each state. There was surprisingly little variance in the top 10 states, with Washington state having the lowest rate (25.02%) and Connecticut collecting the highest tax rate (27.77%).

Texas was in the middle of the pack with a tax rate of 25.71% levied on top one percent incomes.

The 10 states with the highest earnings required to be a one-percenter and their tax rates are:

  1. Connecticut ($955.3K, Tax rate 27.77%)
  2. Massachusetts ($896.9K, Tax rate 26.4%)
  3. New Jersey ($826K, Tax rate 27.36%)
  4. New York ($817.8K, Tax rate 27.48%)
  5. California ($805.5K, Tax rate 26.78%)
  6. Washington ($736.1K, Tax rate 25.02%)
  7. Colorado ($682.9K, Tax rate 25.24%)
  8. Florida ($678.8K, Tax rate 25.23%)
  9. Illinois ($666.2K, Tax rate 26.23%)
  10. Texas ($641.4K, Tax rate 25.71%)
If you're on your way to being a top earner and want to do a deeper dive on those numbers, you can view the full report on the SmartAsset website.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Rice once again is named the best collegiate value in Texas. Photo courtesy of Rice University

Rice University rises to No. 1 spot in new ranking of best college investments

money moves

By one measure, earning a degree at Rice University is the smartest move in the Lone Star State.

In its eighth annual ranking of colleges and university that give students the best return on their educational investment, personal finance website SmartAsset places Rice at No. 1 in Texas and No. 10 in the U.S. It’s the only Texas school to break into the national top 10.

To determine the best-value colleges and universities in each state, SmartAsset crunched data in these categories: scholarships and grants, starting salary for new graduates, tuition, living costs, and retention rate.

While the tuition ($47,350) and student living costs ($17,800) at Rice are the highest among the top 10 Texas schools on the list, the average amount of scholarships and grants ($43,615), average starting salary ($77,900), and retention rate (97 percent) also are among the highest.

According to Rice, tuition, fees, on-campus room and board, books, and personal expenses for the 2022-23 academic year add up to $74,110. That figure, which excludes financial aid, applies to a full-time, degree-seeking student living on campus.

“Rice University is consistently ranked as a best value in higher education and is one of America’s leading teaching and research universities,” the school’s Office of Financial Aid says. “By attending Rice, you will not only receive a superior education at a reasonable cost, you also will benefit from having a Rice degree long after graduation.”

Three other schools in or near the Houston metro area appear on SmartAsset’s list of the biggest-bang-for-your-buck schools in Texas:

  • Prairie View A&M University, No. 4. The university posted the lowest retention rate (74 percent) among the 10 schools. The remaining figures sit roughly in the middle of the pack.
  • University of Houston, No. 5. The university’s tuition ($8,913) was the lowest in the top 10, as was the average amount of scholarships and grants ($6,544).
  • Texas A&M University-College Station, No. 6. The university’s living costs are the second highest among the top 10 ($17,636), while its average starting salary for new grads lands at No. 3 ($64,400).

Other schools in the state’s top 10 are:

  • University of Texas at Austin, No. 2.
  • University of Texas at Dallas (Richardson), No. 3.
  • Texas Tech University in Lubbock, No. 7.
  • LeTourneau University in Longview, No. 8.
  • University of North Texas in Denton, No. 9.
  • Texas State University in San Marcos, No. 10.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Houston is again ranked a top city for women in tech. Photo via Getty Images

Houston rises in the ranks among the top cities for women in tech

we're no. 3

Houston has again made it into the top cities for women in tech — beating out everywhere but Arlington, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Up four spots compared to last year, Houston comes in third place on SmartAsset's eighth annual list, which factors in four metrics: gender pay gap in the tech industry, income for women in tech after deducting housing costs, women as a percentage of tech workers, and three-year growth in tech employment. Aside from Houston, Texas's only other top 15 representation is Fort Worth, which ranks as No. 6.

The Bayou City ranks No.1 overall for the gender pay gap —women earned 98 percent of what men do in the tech workforce on average, the report finds. Female tech workers earn $65,662 after housing expenses are accounted for — ranking ninth-best. Between 2017 and 2020, total tech employment grew by 13 percent and in that workforce, 27.5 percent of workers are women.

The annual study found that while the tech industry is seeing steady growth and is projected to see another 178,000 tech jobs enter the market in 2022, the gender gap is also consistently disappointing. Women only make up 26.1 percent of all tech workers, per the report, and earn just 84 percent of what their male counterparts do.

The West Coast doesn't make a great impact on the list this year.

"Surprisingly, no California cities made the top 10," SmartAsset reports. "Overall, California cities fall behind for tech employment growth over the last three years and the gender pay gap. The highest ranked California city is Sacramento which ties for No. 11 with Nashville, Tennessee."

Houston ranked No. 6 on the same study in 2020 and No. 4 in 2019.

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Houston medical device company secures $57.7M to fund journey to FDA approval, commercialization

fresh funding

Houston-born and bred medical device company, Procyrion, has completed its series E with a raise of $57.7 million, including the conversion of $10 million of interim financing.

Procyrion is the company behind Aortix, a pump designed to be placed in the descending thoracic aorta of heart failure patients, which has been shown to improve cardiac performance in seriously ill subjects. The money raised will allow the company to proceed with a the DRAIN-HF Study, a pivotal trial that will be used for eventual FDA approval and commercialization.

The Aortix is the brainchild of Houston cardiologist Reynolds Delgado. According to Procyrion’s CSO, Jace Heuring, Delgado, gained some of his experience with devices for the heart working with legendary Texas Heart Institute surgeon O.H. “Bud” Frazier. He filed his first patents related to the Aortix in 2005.

Heuring says that the first prototypes were built in 2011, followed by the final design in 2018. That same year, CEO Eric Fain, a California-based MD and with more than 30 years in the medical device industry, joined the company, primed to bring Aortix to the public. He visits the company’s Houston headquarters, across the street from Central Market, on a regular basis.

The device’s pilot study of 18 patients was completed in 2022. Those encouraging results paved the way for the current study, which will include an enrollment of 134 patients. The randomized study will seek to treat patients with acute decompensated heart failure. Half will be treated with standard-of-care therapy, the other half will be catheterized with an Aortix pump. A separate arm of the study will seek to treat end-stage heart failure patients who would otherwise be deemed too sick for either a transplant or an LVAD permanent pump. Fort-five healthcare centers in the United States will participate, including Texas Heart Institute.

“One of the key characteristics is [the patients] are retaining a lot of fluid,” explains Heuring in a video interview. “And when I say a lot, I mean it could be 25 or 30 or 40 pounds of fluid or more. When we put our pump in, one of the main goals is to reduce that fluid load.”

On average, about 11 liters of fluid came off of each patient. Many of those end-stage patients had previously been considered for both a heart and kidney transplant, but after using the Aortix, their kidneys responded so well that they were able to get only the heart transplant.

“These patients really are in dire straits and come into the hospital and today the only proven therapy to help these patients is to administer high doses of intravenous diuretic and some other cardiac drugs and in about 25 percent of patients those therapies are ineffective,” says Fain.

If Aortix gains approval, these sickest of the sick, usually consigned to hospice care, will have hope.

Thanks to the Series E, led by Houston’s Fannin Partners, returning investors, including Bluebird Ventures, the Aortix is inching closer to commercialization. Besides funding the DRAIN-HR study, Procyrion will also use the funds for internal programs to improve product manufacturability. One more step towards meaning advanced heart failure may not always be a death sentence.

Last month, Atul Varadhachary, managing director of Fannin, joined the Houston Innovators Podcast and alluded to Procyrion's raise. The company was born out of Fannin and still resides in the same building as Fannin.

Aortix is a pump designed to be placed in the descending thoracic aorta of heart failure patients. Photo via Procyrion

Houston startup with unique vascular innovation enrolls subjects in new trial

medical device momentum

A Houston-based company has enrolled the initial subjects in a first-of-its-kind trial.

VenoStent was created to improve vascular surgery outcomes for patients undergoing arteriovenous fistula (AVF) creation surgery.

“When a vein is connected to an artery, as in AVF creation, the vein experiences a 10x increase in pressure and flow that is traumatizing to veins. Many fail to become usable for dialysis,” Geoffrey Lucks, VenoStent COO and co-founder, says in a news release.

Enter VenoStent’s SelfWrap Bioabsorbable Perivascular Wrap, better known as simply SelfWrap. In May 2023, SelfWrap gained FDA approval to begin its US IDE Study, SAVE-FistulaS: The SelfWrap-Assisted ArterioVEnous Fistula Study.

Roughly half a million Americans need hemodialysis just to survive another day. Nearly all of those patients require a vascular access creation surgery, but the procedure has a 50-percent failure rate in its first year. VenoStent and SelfWrap are aimed at improving those odds. It works by using the body’s own healing mechanism.

SelfWrap is a flexible, bioabsorbable vascular wrap that helps to recreate the arterial environment in veins. Over time, the body replaces the SelfWrap with venous tissue.

The company has begun to enroll patients for what will eventually be a 200-subject study. Some of those people have radiocephalic fistulas, others have brachiocephalic ones. This is important, because it will likely prove that the technology works for most types of AVFs. The sites for this clinical trial are at the Surgical Specialists of Charlotte, P.A. in Charlotte, NC, and the Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeons in Austin.

“While it’s ambitious and sets a high bar for FDA Approval, we owe it to the chronic kidney disease (CKD) patient community to provide the highest level of clinical evidence,” Timothy Boire, CEO and cofounder, says in the release. “We’re confident based on years of preclinical and clinical data that we’ll demonstrate superiority to standard of care with this breakthrough technology.”

VenoStent recently completed a $16 million Series A, financed by Good Growth Capital and IAG Capital. This is the first-ever randomized controlled trial of a medical device designed to improve outcomes from arteriovenous fistula (AVF) creation surgery in the United States.