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

Wondering how "the other half lives" is so outdated, especially when we we can easily peek into what life is like for the "one percent."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.

Texas, once again, has been named a top city for starting a business. Photo via Getty Images

Texas ranks among best states to start a business

We're no. 3

For years, Texas has been lauded for its business climate being welcoming for new businesses and startups. This year's study shows that the Lone Star State has yet again made the list.

Texas ranked as the third best state to start a business in personal finance website WalletHub's recent list, 2023's Best & Worst States to Start a Business, with a score of 56.85 points. Texas ranked behind Utah, No. 1, and Florida, No. 2, and just ahead of Colorado. Idaho, Georgia, Arizona, Nevada, Oklahoma, and California make up the rest of the top 10, respectively.

The study looked at 27 key indicators of startup success across all 50 states. Texas was recognized for these factors in particular:

  • No. 10 – average growth in number of small businesses
  • No. 30 – labor costs
  • No. 10 – availability of human capital
  • No. 4 – average length of work week (in hours)
  • No. 14 – cost of living
  • No. 13 – industry variety
  • No. 31 – percentage of residents who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19
Source: WalletHub


Richard Ryffel, professor of finance practice at Washington University in St. Louis, noted the importance of policy in making a state a good place to start a business..

"Established businesses looking to expand might expand or relocate entirely based on the relative favorability of the local business climate," Ryffel says. "Recently, Texas, for example, has been the beneficiary of some significant business relocations based on its business-friendly policies."

The methodology of the study focused on three key dimensions — business environment, access to resources, and business costs — and 27 relevant metrics. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, and then each state’s average across all metrics was used to calculate its overall score.

In 2021, Texas ranked in the top position of WalletHub's study. Last year, the personal finance website looked at which cities were ideal spots for business launching. The report found that Georgetown as the best small city in Texas for starting a business.

Houston suburbs didn't manage to crack the top 200, but four were recognized amongst the rest of the best small business towns, according to the study:

  • Texas City , No. 202
  • Baytown, No. 267
  • Deer Park, No. 362
  • Conroe, No. 369
When it came to big cities, Houston ranked as No. 35.
We're welcoming more and more new Texans every day. Photo via Getty Images

Texas population shatters records with massive new number milestone

howdy, partners

The adage "everything's bigger in Texas" has never been more apropos than with this news: For the first time ever, the population of Texas officially reached 30 million.

Or 30,029,572 in July 2022, to be exact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Vintage 2022 national and state population estimates, released on December 22.

We predicted this milestone last year when our population clocked in at 29,558,864, as long as Texas maintained its then-year-over-year growth of 1.1 percent.

We bested that percentage and then some, growing 1.6 percent and coming in fourth for total percentage growth. Florida, Idaho, and South Carolina were the only states ahead of us in that race.

The numbers also revealed that Texas saw the most numeric growth in 2022, adding 470,708 residents year over year from July 1, 2021, to July 1, 2022.

But wait, that's not all: Texas is also officially the second-most populous state, joining California in the 30 million-plus club. For reference, Texas is 268,597 square miles and California is 163,696 square miles — we do treasure our wide open spaces.

Growth in Texas last year was fueled by gains from all three of the main components: net domestic migration (230,961), or people moving in and out of the state; net international migration, or the number people moving in and out of the country (118,614); and natural increase, or births minus deaths (118,159).

“There was a sizable uptick in population growth last year compared to the prior year’s historically low increase,” says Kristie Wilder, a demographer in the Population Division at the Census Bureau. “A rebound in net international migration, coupled with the largest year-over-year increase in total births since 2007, is behind this increase.”

The Population Estimates Program uses current data on births, deaths, and migration to calculate population change since the most recent decennial census date and produce a time series of estimates of population, demographic components of change, and housing units.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Both Houston and the Lone Star State as a whole have been named top places to start a business. Photo via Getty Images

Houston and Texas recognized as top regions for startups, according to new reports

best around

When it comes to corporate giants, the Houston area has plenty to brag about: It’s home to the headquarters of two dozen Fortune 500 companies.

However, Houston can also boast that it’s one of the best U.S. metro areas to launch a business. Houston ranks ninth on a new list from the 42Floors real estate website of the top spots for new entrepreneurs. Austin lands at No. 3 on the list, Dallas appears at No. 8, and San Antonio winds up at No. 19. Las Vegas ranks first.

The website judged metro areas based on factors reflecting business opportunity and affordability.

“Starting out in a business-friendly environment, being able to afford a small office, or even having access to the right consulting services and networking opportunities can all contribute to your new business’s chances for success,” 42Floors says.

Among the factors favoring Houston are:

  • A cost of living on par with the national average, and lower than Austin’s and Dallas’ averages.
  • Average annual labor costs of $45,750 per employee, below the figures for Austin and Dallas.

Referring to Houston, Austin, and Dallas, 42Floors says: “As you might expect, each metro in the Texas trio offered a different context in which different businesses could thrive. For this reason, entrepreneurs will need to weigh the importance of affordability and opportunity for their respective business ideas.”

The presence of Houston, Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio in the top 20 of the 42Floors study underscores the Lone Star State’s standing as a top state for startups.

Job search platform Lensa recently ranked Texas as the best state to launch a startup. To developing its ranking, Lensa examined factors such as volume of new-business applications, corporate tax rates, and cost of living.

Texas earned a 7.09 out of 10 on Lensa’s scale. Helping driving that score was the 492,243 new-business applications filed in the past year in Texas, beating all other states except California and Florida. The application number “demonstrates just how many ambitious entrepreneurs there are in Texas,” Lensa says.

In addition, Texas lands at No. 2 among the top 10 startup states for the lowest corporate tax rate, at 3.95 percent, and at No. 3 among the top 10 startup states for the lowest cost of living.

We work hard for the money in Houston. Photo by Hinterhaus Productions/Getty

Texas clocks in as 5th hardest-working state in U.S., survey says

LAUDING TEXAS’ LABOR FORCE

n the 1980s, disco queen Donna Summer sang the praises of a blue-collar woman in the hit tune “She Works Hard for the Money.” If the song were to be updated for this decade, it might morph into an ode to the hardworking women and men of Texas.

A new ranking from personal finance website WalletHub puts Texas at No. 5 among the hardest-working states. The Lone Star State repeated its fifth-place showing from last year. In the 2022 study, Texas is preceded by North Dakota, Alaska, Nebraska, and South Dakota. The slackers, it appears, are in bottom-ranked New Mexico.

WalletHub evaluated each state based on 10 metrics. In the Labor Day-timed study, Texas earned an especially high mark for the average number of hours worked per week (ranked fourth).In July 2022, nearly 14.6 million people were part of the state’s civilian workforce (which excludes active-duty military personnel), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That month, the state’s unemployment rate stood at 4 percent.

In a news release touting the July 2022 job numbers for Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott highlighted the state’s “young, skilled, diverse, and growing workforce.”

“Texas jobs are booming, and more Texans are working than ever before as we again break all previous records for total jobs,” Abbott says. “Despite the economic challenges job creators are facing across the nation, businesses are investing with confidence in the Lone Star State because we’ve built a framework that allows free enterprise to flourish and hardworking Texans to succeed.”

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this article originally ran on CultureMap.

Turns out Austin-born millennials haven't moved too far. Photo by Getty Images

Houston named No. 1 destination for millennials on the move from this Texas city

putting down roots

For the most part, Austin millennials have stayed close to home after entering adulthood, a new report indicates.

At age 26, nearly 70 percent of people who were born from 1984 to 1992 and raised in Austin remained there, according to the report. That leaves more than 30 percent who moved elsewhere.

Data compiled by researchers at Harvard University and the U.S. Census Bureau pinpoints Houston as the No. 1 target for millennials who lived in Austin at age 16 and grew up here but lived somewhere else in the U.S. at age 26. The Bayou City attracted 3.9 percent of millennial movers born from 1984 to 1992 (a large subset of the millennial generation) who grew up in Austin.

Bayou City was followed by San Antonio (3.1 percent), Dallas (2.8 percent), Killeen (1.3 percent), and Fort Worth (1.2 percent). These were the only Texas cities to surpass the 1 percent mark for the share of millennials born from 1984 to 1992 who had moved away from Austin. In 2022, these millennials are celebrating birthdays from 30 to 38.

These are the top five out-of-state destinations for Austin-raised, on-the-move millennials:

  • Los Angeles — 0.86 percent
  • New York City — 0.79 percent
  • Denver — 0.64 percent
  • Seattle — 0.50 percent
  • Washington, D.C. — 0.43 percent

The list of Texas places that sent millennials to Austin looks very similar to the list of places that gained millennials from Austin. The top five are Houston (6.7 percent of movers born from 1984 to 1992 who came to Austin), Dallas and San Antonio (3.7 percent each), Fort Worth (2 percent), and Brownsville (1.6 percent).

Los Angeles is the only out-of-state destination that broke the 1 percent barrier for millennials who relocated to Austin (1.6 percent), followed by Chicago (0.97 percent), Washington, D.C. (0.63 percent), Detroit (0.51 percent), and Boston and New York City (0.49 percent each).

The geographic regions cited in the report are not metro areas but, instead, are commuting zones. A commuting zone represents a collection of counties that define an area’s labor market.

Researchers relied on federal tax, population, and housing data to assemble the report.

The statistics for Austin largely align with nationwide trends. The researchers say 80 percent of young-adult movers in the U.S. had relocated less than 100 miles from where they grew up and 90 percent had moved less than 500 miles.

“The majority of young adults stay close to home,” the researchers explain. “Average migration distances are shorter for Black and Hispanic young adults than for White and Asian young adults. Average migration distances are also shorter for those with lower levels of parental income.”

“For many individuals,” the researchers conclude, “the ‘radius of economic opportunity’ is quite narrow.”

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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How this Houston innovator's tech is gearing up to impact EV charging, energy transition

houston innovators podcast episode 172

With more and more electric vehicles on the road, existing electrical grid infrastructure needs to be able to keep up. Houston-based Revterra has the technology to help.

"One of the challenges with electric vehicle adoption is we're going to need a lot of charging stations to quickly charge electric cars," Ben Jawdat, CEO and founder of Revterra, says on the Houston Innovators Podcast. "People are familiar with filling their gas tank in a few minutes, so an experience similar to that is what people are looking for."

To charge an EV in ten minutes is about 350 kilowatts of power, and, as Jawdat explains, if several of these charges are happening at the same time, it puts a tremendous strain on the electric grid. Building the infrastructure needed to support this type of charging would be a huge project, but Jawdat says he thought of a more turnkey solution.

Revterra created a kinetic energy storage system that enables rapid EV charging. The technology pulls from the grid, but at a slower, more manageable pace. Revterra's battery acts as an intermediary to store that energy until the consumer is ready to charge.

"It's an energy accumulator and a high-power energy discharger," Jawdat says, explaining that compared to an electrical chemical battery, which could be used to store energy for EVs, kinetic energy can be used more frequently and for faster charging.

Jawdat, who is a trained physicist with a PhD from the University of Houston and worked as a researcher at Rice University, says some of his challenges were receiving early funding and identifying customers willing to deploy his technology.

Last year, Revterra raised $6 million in a series A funding round. Norway’s Equinor Ventures led the round, with participation from Houston-based SCF Ventures. Previously, Revterra raised nearly $500,000 through a combination of angel investments and a National Science Foundation grant.

The funding has gone toward growing Revterra's team, including onboarding three new engineers with some jobs still open, Jawdat says. Additionally, Revterra is building out its new lab space and launching new pilot programs.

Ultimately, Revterra, an inaugural member of Greentown Houston, hopes to be a major player within the energy transition.

"We really want to be an enabling technology in the renewable energy transition," Jawdat says. "One part of that is facilitating the development of large-scale, high-power, fast-charging networks. But, beyond that, we see this technology as a potential solution in other areas related to the clean energy transition."

He shares more about what's next for Revterra on the podcast. Listen to the interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.


Report: Houston's hot medical office market might be on track to cool

by the numbers

Houston’s medical office market is on a roll.

A report from commercial real estate services company JLL shows net absorption and transaction volume saw healthy gains in 2022:

  • The annual absorption total of 289,215 square feet was 50.5 percent higher than the five-year average.
  • Transaction volume notched a 31.7 percent year-over-year increase.

Meanwhile, net rents held steady at $26.92 per square foot, up 1.3 percent from the previous year. The fourth-quarter 2022 vacancy rate stood at 15.9 percent.

Despite those numbers, the report suggests a slowdown in medical office rentals may be underway.

“Tenants who may have previously considered building out or expanding their lease agreements are now in a holding pattern due to increased construction costs and higher interest rates,” the report says. “These factors are having a direct impact on financial decisions when it comes to lease renewals, making it more likely that tenants will remain in their existing location for the foreseeable future.”

Still, the report notes “a number of bright spots for the future of healthcare in Houston.” Aside from last year’s record-high jump in sales volume, the report indicates an aging population coupled with a growing preference for community-based treatment “will lift demand even higher in coming years.”

The report shows that in last year’s fourth quarter, 527,083 square of medical office space was under construction in the Houston area, including:

  • 152,871 square feet in the Clear Lake area.
  • 104,665 square feet in the South submarket.
  • 103,647 square feet in Sugar Land.
Last fall, JLL recognized Houston as a top city for life sciences. According to that report, the Bayou City lands at No. 13 in JLL’s 2022 ranking of the country’s top 15 metro areas for life sciences. JLL says Houston “is poised for further growth” in life sciences.

Houston financial services firm announces acquisition, plans to grow

M&A radar

A Houston-based financial services company has made a recent strategic acquisition that gives it a new banking status.

LevelField Financial, which is creating a platform that combines traditional banking and digital asset products and services, announced this week that it is acquiring Burling Bank, an FDIC-insured, Illinois state-chartered bank. According to the company, once it receives regulatory approval, "LevelField will be the first full-service bank to offer fully compliant traditional banking and digital asset services."

The financial terms of the deal's transaction, which is expected to close later this year, were not disclosed.

The combined company will be able to provide traditional banking services, as well as LevelField's digital asset management. Burling Bank's senior management team will join LevelField's leadership, per a press release. They will focus on serving the bank's existing clients and growing the banking business nationwide.

"We conducted a broad review of banks in the U.S. to find the ideal institution with both an existing business and a management team who are aligned with our vision; we exceeded our expectations with Burling Bank. With this acquisition, LevelField will become a traditional bank, albeit one serving customers interested in the digital asset class," says Gene A. Grant II, CEO of LevelField Financial, in the release.

"We are thrilled to have the Burling executives join our leadership team, and together we intend to deliver fantastic customer service and well-designed products to customers who have an interest in accessing the digital asset class through a traditional bank," he continues.

Founded in 2018 by former banking executives, LevelField's leadership believes "the future of money is digital and that banks will continue to be a trusted provider of financial services," according to the website. This acquisition comes ahead of the company's plans to expand nationally.

"LevelField's strategic approach presented a tremendous opportunity for the bank to expand beyond our local footprint and serve customers with shared interests across the nation," says Michael J. Busch, Burling Bank president and CEO. "Together, we will continue to provide superior service and demonstrate that we truly understand the expanding and unique needs of our customers. Additionally, through the carefully developed suite of products we can address our customers' interests in digital assets and introduce them to LevelField's safe, simple, and secure platform."