The 2011-15 American Community Survey was released Dec. 8, and the document indicates the poverty rate in San Marcos has decreased slightly but remains more than twice as high as the national rate.

The survey is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and helps communities throughout the nation make informed decisions related to planning and growth, and helps determine how more than $400 billion of federal and state funding is distributed each year, according to the ACS website.

In San Marcos, 37.4 percent of residents had experienced poverty at some point between 2008-12. Between 2011-15, that number dropped to 37 percent. In Buda, the number of residents who experienced poverty during those periods dropped to 6.7 percent from 7.5 percent. In Kyle, the poverty rate during those periods dropped from 8.1 percent to 6 percent.

Although the poverty rate in the city of San Marcos is more than twice that of the nation, which held a poverty rate of 15.5 percent from 2011-15, the median income increased more than twice as fast in San Marcos compared to the rest of the nation. The city’s median annual income increased 4.8 percent to $28,923 between 2011-15. Nationally, median income increased 2.13 percent to $53,889 during the same period.

In Kyle and Buda, wages decreased between 2011-15. In Kyle, median annual income decreased 1.41 percent from $73,790 in 2011 to $72,746 in 2015. In Buda, median annual income decreased 7.5 percent from $74,535 in 2011 to $68,945 in 2015.

Adriana Cruz, president of the Greater San Marcos Partnership, which provides economic development services to the city of San Marcos and other parts of Hays and Caldwell counties, said she believes the relatively high poverty rate in San Marcos is related to available jobs. Retail, government services, food service and accommodations are the top four industries in the county.

Each of those—with the exception of government services—has relatively low wages.

“That’s why one of our goals is to diversify our employment base to try to balance that out,” Cruz said.

The GSMP’s Vision 2020 plan calls for the Greater San Marcos area to focus on attracting companies working in aerospace, business services and support, destination attractions and materials science, among other areas.

“As we continue to diversify our employment base, I think we’ll continue to see those numbers improve,” she said.

The survey also indicated women in San Marcos are more likely to hold management positions than in the rest of the nation. In the city, 55 percent of management positions are held by women, but only 43 percent of those positions are held by women nationally.

Cruz said when she joined the GSMP in 2013, she was happy to see women in positions of leadership throughout the county. Cruz cited Texas State University President Denise Trauth; Denise T. Smart, dean of the McCoy College of Business Administration at Texas State; Laura Kilcrease, director of the Center For Entrepreneurial Action at Texas State; and Diana Blank-Torres, director of economic development for the city of Kyle, as example of women leaders throughout the county.

“That was something I found personally—anecdotally—interesting when I moved here: the fact that there were so many women in positions at high levels,” Cruz said. “It’s an interesting trend you don’t see in other parts in the Austin [metropolitan statistical area].”