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MCALLEN, Texas – The economy of the Texas-Mexico border region has been hit hard by COVID-19 and the subsequent travel ban on Mexican nationals.

That was the message from economist Luis B. Torres in a Zoom conversation with Rio Grande Guardian editor Steve Taylor recently.

The Torres interview was timed to coincide with a new Texas Border Economy Report from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. Torres, a native of El Paso, was one of the economists who wrote the report. The others were James P. Gaines, Luis B. Torres, Wesley Miller, Paige Silva, and Griffin Carter.

“Unfortunately, the border is not doing well. One reason for that, the Mexican nationals cannot cross onto the Texas side to purchase goods and services. That affects retail sales. The border region has been hit hard by the shutdown, by the COVID-19 health crisis specifically,” Torres told The Rio Grande Guardian.

 The new report found:

  • Border non-farm employment decreased by 97,600 jobs, an 11.4 percent decline.
  • Unemployment rose to 14 percent in Laredo, 15.3 percent in El Paso, 17.8 percent in Brownsville, and 19.1 percent in McAllen. Weekly initial unemployment insurance claims, however, decreased nearly every week since peaking the last week of March in Brownsville and El Paso and the first week of April in Laredo and McAllen.
  • The border’s labor force contracted by 7.5 percent.
  • Total trade values passing through the border fell from $27.2 billion to $13.3 billion as the peso-per-dollar exchange rate shot up to 24.18.
  • Housing sales plummeted 20.2 percent for the month.

Click here to read the new report.

“It does not look good right now for the border, unfortunately. The good thing is we have a new USMCA. The traffic of intermediary and final goods between the manufacturing in Mexico and the manufacturing in the U.S. continues,” Torres said, in the Zoom conversation.

Here is the Zoom conversation with Luis B. Torres:


Torres will be a guest on a webinar hosted by the Rio Grande Valley Partnership on Thursday, July 30, 2020. The title of the presentation will be: “Economic Indicators in Housing and Commercial Markets -Texas & RGV.” Normally, this annual presentation is made in person, with Torres visiting the Valley for a luncheon, often held in the Mid Valley. This year, due to the coronavirus, it is being made online. 


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