One of the biggest decisions new college graduates face after earning their bachelor's degree is whether to continue their education with a graduate degree or enter the professional world without one. The Education Data Initiative reports that the average cost of a master's degree is $65,134, so it's important to consider the financial benefits depending on an individual's chosen field of study.

In a metro area like Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, a graduate degree would mean a resident earns $18,919 more than if they only had a bachelor's degree, according to a new study by SmartAsset.

The average annual income of an Austin resident with a bachelor's degree is $65,743, the study says, with graduate degree earners making $84,662 per year.

The average annual pay in Austin for someone with a graduate degree is greater than the national average of $72,000. The study further determined that on a national scale, a graduate degree nets individuals $16,000 more per year — a slightly lesser increase than in Austin.

"Amid the high expenses of education and ever-changing job markets, it’s important to weigh the opportunity costs of a graduate degree with the additional earning potential," the study's author wrote. "A graduate or professional degree nets an extra $484,000 over a career, on average... This assumes a 30 year career in a medium or large metro area."

SmartAsset's study used 2021 U.S. Census Bureau 1-Year ACS S1501 data to determine the income for individuals aged 25 and older with varying professional degrees in 281 of the biggest metropolitan areas.

The Texas city where a graduate degree nets a resident the most amount of money is Midland, with a massive $24,394 difference between graduate degree and bachelor's holders. Average graduate degree pay in the West Texas city is $90,559 versus a bachelor's degree pay of $66,165.

The metro that landed at the top of the national ranks is San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California. A bachelor's degree holder makes an average salary of $102,214 in the area, whereas a graduate degree holder increases those earnings more than $48,000, totaling $150,281.

The full report and its methodology can be found on smartasset.com.


Austin is caught slacking in Forbes study on best cities for remote workers

views from my couch

With many companies encouraging — or commanding — that remote workers return to the office in 2023, more and more Americans are seeking employment opportunities that will give them the freedom to work from elsewhere.

Austin is (remotely) clocking in as the No. 39 best city for remote workers in 2023, according to a study by Forbes Advisor. The city's disappointing rank has much room for improvement in this burgeoning Central Texas mega-metro.

The study examined 100 U.S. cities and metro areas, and ranked them based on the earning potential of remote workers, internet access, lifestyle amenities, worker friendliness, living costs, and more.

Austin did great in one of these categories, but it seems that earning potential and lifestyle amenities just couldn't keep up. for Austinites, it's all in the Wi-Fi: a remote worker's most important tool.

Austin's average internet download speed is 425.90 Megabits per second (Mbps), and when coupled with the wide variety of free Wi-Fi hotspots around the city, Austin earned No. 3 in the category for "cities with the best internet access." And we do like to take advantage of that at restaurants and bars around town.

"Remote work saves workers time and money on commuting and office clothing, while keeping their morale and productivity levels high," the report said. "Ideally, you’d live in a place with an affordable cost of living, high earning potential, reliable internet connection, low taxes, a low unemployment rate, and various entertainment options."

Austin-Round Rock ranks as the third overall best metro area in Texas for remote workers, after Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington (No. 15 nationally) and San Antonio-New Braunfels (No. 6 nationally). Elsewhere in Texas, Houston (No. 49) barely made it into the top 50, outranked by El Paso (No. 46). McAllen-Edinburg-Mission ranked No. 85.

The top 10 U.S. metro areas for remote workers are:

  • No. 1 – Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Florida
  • No. 2 – Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Indiana
  • No. 3 – Omaha-Council Bluffs, Nebraska-Iowa
  • No. 4 – Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • No. 5 – Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Michigan
  • No. 6 – San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas
  • No. 7 – Jacksonville, Florida
  • No. 8 – Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida
  • No. 9 – Tuscon, Arizona
  • No. 10 – Cleveland-Elyria, Ohio

The study can be found on forbes.com.

Photo by Tomek Baginski on Unsplash

Exciting Austin makes top 10 in list of best cities for Gen Z

Gen Z News

A new report confirms that Austin — with a super-active music scene, a great mix of fine and popular art, and a big college population around the University of Texas — is a great place for young adults to call home.

A new study by commercial real estate website CommercialCafe has pegged Austin as the No. 7 best city in the United States for Gen Z.

As the report puts it, the "experience-hungry generation" often seeks out an affordable area of town with vast opportunities for entertainment, education, or employment, which are three things Austin excels in.

Approximately 7.1 percent of the city's total population are Gen Zers, according to the analysis. (Gen Z is defined as the "newest generation," born between 1997 and 2012, now aged 11 to 26 years old.)

In the category for fun things to do, the study found that San Antonio has nearly 3,099 different recreational establishments for Gen Zers to enjoy. That's only 501 fewer than San Antonio, which is has a population about 50 percent larger than Austin's, meaning the smaller city has a much higher concentration of things to do.

Other metrics that were taken into account in CommercialCafe's report include an affordability index, jobs for recent graduates, the city's unemployment rate, and the number of parks per 10,000 residents. Even though rents aren't exactly cheap, Austin and the towns nearby are still more affordable than many large cities across the U.S.

Austin was No. 6 in a smaller breakdown within the report that compared job availability to cost of living and unemployment rate. It's not just that things don't cost much in Austin, but that young people are more likely to have the tools they need to afford them.

"Specifically, we looked at the share that Gen Zers hold out of each city’s total population to identify where relocating young professionals are more likely to find like-minded individuals," the report's author said.

Austin wasn't the only Texas city to make it into the top 20. Houston ranked No. 9, followed by Fort Worth (No. 17) and San Antonio (No. 20). Dallas, surprisingly, didn't make it onto CommercialCafe's list.

The top 10 best cities for Gen Z are:

  • No. 1 – Minneapolis
  • No. 2 – Atlanta
  • No. 3 – Boston
  • No. 4 – Columbus, Ohio
  • No. 5 – Raleigh, North Carolina
  • No. 6 – Tucson, Arizona
  • No. 7 – Austin, Texas
  • No. 8 – Milwaukee
  • No. 9 – Houston
  • No. 10 – Philadelphia
The full report can be found on commercialcafe.com.
Photo courtesy of Domain NORTHSIDE

Austin shopping center welcomes the city's first North Face, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. From shopping malls to stunning lights in nature, here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. Austin shopping center welcomes the city's first North Face, plus 2 other stores. Yes, Austinites do travel to cold places, but they will likely be extra interested in the climbing and camping gear.

2. Sneak a peek at the 6 immersive, nocturnal artworks lighting up Austin's 2023 Creek Show. The banks of Waller Creek will soon be aglow with illuminated art installations by local artists and designers.

3. This is how much income an Austinite needs to afford rent in the city. Austin rent is rising, but it's still not breaking the top 30 in the country. Not that that's a great achievement.

4. Best places to view the Perseid meteor shower's peak in Central Texas and beyond. The biggest meteor shower of the year will be most visible the night of Saturday, August 12, until the early morning of Sunday, August 13.

5. Famous Austin mall unveils luxury renovations to its domain through 2025. The Domain has been Austin's luxury staple for 15 years, and now it's getting a facelift.

Photo by Viacheslav Bublyk on Unsplash

Here's what it takes to be in the top 1 percent of earners in Texas

six-figures of wealth

It's always been said that the richer get richer as the years go on, and those who hold the most wealth are certainly making that phrase a reality in America. More than a third of the overall wealth in the United States is held by the top one percent of earners, who make about $652,657 a year.

But how much money does a Texan need to make to secure a place in the top one percent of earners in the state? A new study from SmartAsset, published July 17, determined that the answer is not too far off from the national amount, but is still well into the six-digit figure range: $631,849.

SmartAsset looked into what it takes for earners in every state to be considered in the top one percent, and Texas has the No. 14 highest threshold of income needed for the exclusive classification.

Texas' latest ranking is a four-place drop from an earlier SmartAsset report, from February 2023, that put Texas' one percent threshold at $641,400. SmartAsset typically publishes this report annually, but released an all-new report in July when new data from the IRS became available.

The new report further revealed that Southern states have the lowest income thresholds, with six out of the bottom 10 states being located in the Southeast.

"While Northeastern states like Massachusetts and New Jersey have some of the highest income thresholds for the one percent, it takes considerably less income to be considered in the top one percent in many Southern states," the study says.

However, holding on to that much wealth isn't without financial responsibility. Texans who are in that top one percent category have a tax rate of 25.83 percent.

The top 10 states with the highest thresholds to be considered in the top one percent of earners in the U.S. are:

  • No. 1 – Connecticut ($952,902)
  • No. 2 – Massachusetts ($903,401)
  • No. 3 – California ($844,266)
  • No. 4 – New Jersey ($817,346)
  • No. 5 – Washington ($804,853)
  • No. 6 – New York ($776,662)
  • No. 7 – Colorado ($709,092)
  • No. 8 – Florida ($694,987)
  • No. 9 – Illinois ($660,810)
  • No. 10 – New Hampshire ($659,037)
To determine the different income thresholds for every state, SmartAsset used 2020 data from the IRS and adjusted the numbers to be accurate for May 2023 using the U.S. city average series from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers.
The full report can be found on smartasset.com.
Photo courtesy of KVUE

Bills cutting $18 billion in Texas property tax go to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk


The Texas Senate and House have passed a historic $18 billion property tax cut. The plan, comprising two main bills and a constitutional amendment — Senate Bill 2, Senate Bill 3 and House Joint Resolution 2 — was passed by both the Texas House and Senate and will now head to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk, where he has said he will sign it.

Gov. Abbott released a statement shortly after the plan passed Thursday night:

"I made a promise to Texans during my campaign that the State of Texas would use at least $13.5 billion from our historic budget surplus to provide substantial relief to property taxpayers across Texas. Today, we will deliver even more with over $18 billion in property tax cuts. The Texas House and Senate fulfilled our promise with an agreement that delivers a comprehensive, long-lasting solution to increasingly burdensome property tax bills. I thank my partners in the Texas Legislature for coming together to honor the best interests of hardworking Texans who want to own their property — not rent it from the government. I look forward to signing this legislation into law to provide Texans with the largest property tax cut in Texas history.”

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan each issued separate statements on Thursday night, commending the passage of the legislation:

"Today, the Senate unanimously passed House Joint Resolution 2, the final piece of the largest property tax relief package in Texas history, and likely the world. House Joint Resolution 2 authorizes a constitutional amendment election in November to allow for the provisions of Senate Bill 2 to be implemented. The impact of the $100,000 homestead exemption and the school district tax rate compression will be retroactive for the 2023 tax year to make sure Texans get maximum relief this year. Texans should take note of the November 7, 2023, constitutional amendment election date so they can vote in favor of this historic tax relief and several other key measures for the future of our state. In 2021, Texas voters enthusiastically approved the constitutional amendment to increase the homestead exemption to $40,000 and I have complete confidence they will do the same this year to increase the homestead exemption to $100,000." - Lt. Gov. Patrick

“I am thrilled to announce the overwhelming passage of the House and Senate’s omnibus property tax legislation. The passage of this $18 billion package is a testament to the unwavering commitment of Texas leaders to address the concerns of taxpayers and provide significant relief from the burden of escalating property taxes. I want to express my gratitude to the Lieutenant Governor for his productive negotiations on this matter, to State Representatives Will Metcalf, Morgan Meyer, and Charlie Geren for their relentless work to get these bills over the finish line, and to all the members who voted to give Texas property owners the largest state property tax cut in this nation’s history. Their dedication and leadership have been instrumental in making this historic achievement possible, and Texas taxpayers will be the winners because of it.” - Speaker Phelan

The $18 billion tax cut will include:

  • Over $12 billion to be spent on reducing the school property tax rate for all homeowners and business properties by 10.7 cents
  • Increase homestead exemption for homeowners from $40,000 to $100,000
  • A 20 percent circuit breaker on appraised values as a three-year pilot project for non-homesteaded properties, valued at $5 million and under, including residential and commercial properties
  • Savings on the franchise tax for small businesses and the creation of newly elected positions on local appraisal boards. It would increase the franchise tax exemption from $1 million to $2.47 million
  • The resolution would create a three-year pilot program for all other property valued at $5 million or less, to cap increases on appraisal values

"Its appraisal cap is 20 percent, so there's some doubt, or at least some question, as to whether that's going to have a huge effect," said Karen Brooks Harper, state budget reporter for The Texas Tribune.

Brooks Harper said there was some give-and-take on both sides.

"The House didn't get, you know, all $18 billion going towards compression, going towards lowering school taxes," Brooks Harper said.

She said the House did get 70 percent of the new money to go towards it, along with a form of an appraisal cap.

As for the Senate, it got its homestead exemption, which Lt. Gov. Patrick said will increase tax relief for 5.7 million homeowners.

"If you live in your house for 25 years, a typical 25-year mortgage, that's over $25,000 [...] in savings over a lifetime," Patrick said.

Last week, the Senate added an amendment that would give teachers a one-time bonus, but that didn't make it into this deal.


Read the full story and watch the video at KVUE.com.

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Radio Coffee brings the brews to new East Austin shop and music venue in October

going live in the fall

When it comes to expanding the influence of coffee connoisseurs in Austin, there's room for everyone on the East Side.

One East Austin coffee shop just changed hands for a fancy rebrand, and another recently expanded out of the area into Buda. Cosmic Coffee, a South Austin staple, blew everyone out of the water with a gorgeous, sprawling industrial complex on East 4th Street, and now another neighboring coffee and beer combo is following suit.

Radio/East, a second location spun off from the original music-loving Radio Coffee & Beer, will open its doors at 3504 Montopolis Dr. in East Austin on Wednesday, October 18.

The new family- and dog-friendly space sprawls across two acres, which is divvied up among a 1,200-square-foot indoor coffee shop, indoor and outdoor live music stages, and a food truck park. Guests will be able to order their favorite drinks from the indoor counter, or they can choose to order from either of the two outdoor windows that open to the grand shaded backyard. And we can't forget one of the more rare features: plenty of parking for customers.

Radio's founding father-son duo Jack and Greg Wilson brought on two new partners — Trey Hudson and Nine Mile Records owner Rick Pierik — in the hopes of developing and maintaining this new spot as a community-focused space, much like the beloved original.

“With the new space, we’ve been able to create a through line to the existing concept of Radio,” said Hudson in a release. “With Radio/East we tried to listen to what the Montopolis community needed and we hope that we can be as central to this neighborhood as we have been to the area around Menchaca.”

Pierik will be the driving force behind Radio/East's musical events. Local musicians and touring bands will all get their chance to take the stage with four nights of performances planned indoors and outdoors beginning on Thursdays.

With Austin's wide-ranging music taste, Pierik will seek to reflect the city's musical diversity with every show.

"Jack Wilson and I are looking to bring together diverse programing from every corner of the music industry, booking up-and-coming national and international acts alongside all of the amazing Austin talent we've known and admired for years," said Pierik. "We're especially committed to helping local artists develop their fanbases through quality concert experiences and eclectic bills."

A list of events following Radio/East's grand opening is as follows:

  • October 19 – Sunrosa with Guma and Feeling Small
  • October 20 – Redbud with Mockjaw, Tearjerk, and Creekbed Carter Hogan
  • October 21 – Peachfuzz 10th Anniversary Party featuring The Texas Gentleman, Brown Burlesque, Lady Dan, and a to-be-announced special guest
  • October 28 – First Annual Radio/East Chili Cook Off and the Austin Flea, featuring Mother Neff, The Push & Shove, and Sour Bridges
  • October 31 – A Rocky Horror Halloween featuring A Giant Dog with Trouble in the Streets
  • November 11 – A Free Lunch Benefit featuring Caroline Rose and BRUCE
  • November 17 – Money Chicha with The Tiarras

Tickets for the upcoming shows can be purchased online beginning Friday, September 29.

In addition to keeping Radio/East music-focused, visitors can expect to see some classic beverages on the menu, with a few new twists to keep customers coming back. The new location will have two tap towers with eight craft beer taps, four rotating specialty draft cocktails, and plenty of wine to go around.

Radio/EastGet a local favorite beer on draft, or try a new specialty draft cocktail.Photo by Renee Dominguez

Bar Manager Jacob Biggie has been hard at work to develop new creative cocktails for the new location, including Phantom Mood (Still Austin Gin, hibiscus, lime, and cucumber with soda) and Sensitive Artist (Senza Maeso hybrid spirit, Aperol, St. Germain, lime juice). Guests can also try the new seasonal non-alcoholic highball, dubbed the Chai-ball.

The lineup of food vendors at the new East Austin digs include Veracruz All Natural with its binge-worthy tacos; organic pizza slices from Side Eye Slice (a sister concept to Side Eye Pie); and Radio's own food truck – Shortwave Diner – offering classic American diner fare and comfort food such as smash burgers, fried chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, chicken and waffles, and more.

Following the grand opening at 7 am on October 18, Radio/East's operating hours will be 7 am to 1 am Monday through Saturday, and 7 am to 10 pm on Sundays.

Austin is No. 12 in the U.S. with the highest number of 'unretirees'

Office News

Many Austin seniors are still punching the clock well past retirement age. According to "Cities with the Most Working Seniors," a new employment study by business website ChamberofCommerce.org, more than a quarter of Austin seniors aged 65 and up are still employed, making it the No. 12 city in the U.S. with the most working seniors.

More than 25,400 Austin seniors aged 65 and up are employed out of a total 93,861, or 27.1 percent of the city's senior population.

The No. 1 city in the U.S. with hard-working oldsters is Alexandria, Virginia, located in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, where 36.8 percent of its seniors still employed. Coming in second was Tallahassee, Florida, with 30.9 percent. In third place was Dallas, with 30.3 percent of the senior population clocking in for work around the city.

To determine their ranking, the site examined the percentage of seniors aged 65 and over who were actively employed within the last 12 months, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Their analysis included data from 170 of the nation’s most populous cities.

The report says the median household income of a senior citizen in Austin is $58,546, and hints at the rising cost of living coupled with personal extenuating circumstances leading to a new trend of "unretiring" seniors within the local workforce.

"Deciding when to retire is one of the most important financial and personal decisions that workers can make," the report's author said. "Before making the leap, make sure you have factored in your savings, social security benefits, spending habits, economic volatility, and how your social life will change after retirement."

Also in Central Texas, San Antonio ranked No. 82 overall with 22.1 percent of the senior population currently in the workforce. Although that seems like a smaller number of people, it's actually much larger than Austin, with 41,918 seniors toiling away out of a total 189,544.

San Antonio's relatively high percentage of working seniors might come as a surprise, considering the city was named one of the best cities for retirees earlier in 2023.

The top 10 U.S. cities with the most working seniors are:

  • No. 1 – Alexandria, Virginia
  • No. 2 – Tallahassee, Florida
  • No. 3 – Dallas, Texas
  • No. 4 – Irvine, California
  • No. 5 – Washington, D.C.
  • No. 6 – Plano, Texas
  • No. 7 – Anchorage, Alaska
  • No. 8 – Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • No. 9 – Overland Park, Kansas
  • No. 10 – Madison, Wisconsin

ChamberofCommerce.org is a digital site for small business owners and entrepreneurs. The full report and its methodology can be found on chamberofcommerce.org.

Online home searching platform Compass buys top Austin-based brokerage

real estate news

National residential real estate agency Compass has acquired Realty Austin and Realty San Antonio, in a move that will expand its position as the leading national firm and its growth in Texas by more than 600 agents.

Although the sale price was not disclosed in Compass' announcement, the local brokerages completed $5.24 billion sales just in 2022 alone.

Compass added that the Austin and San Antonio leadership will have direct oversight of daily operations as part of the terms of the acquisition. Realty Austin and Realty San Antonio co-founder Yvette Flores maintains that she and her leadership team will strive for a "seamless transition" into the national firm that respects the home-grown culture they have created.

Realty Austin was founded in 2004 by Flores and Jonathan Boatwright, and has grown through the years to become one of the most innovative brokerages in Central Texas and beyond. The company expanded its operations to San Antonio in 2021.

Realty Austin and Realty San Antonio CEO Gabe Richter said in the release that Compass' leading-edge technology will help his agents foster greater successes, particularly in one booming Austin category: luxury real estate.

"Our agents have consistently set records with remarkable achievements," Richter said in the release. "Now, by aligning with Compass, they gain access to a transformative technology platform that enhances efficiency and elevated resources that empower them to secure even more luxury listings."

Compass was founded in 2012 as the largest real estate brokerage in the U.S., and preserves its stronghold as the No. 1 brokerage in Texas thanks to its milestone acquisition. The national brokerage has already surpassed $10 billion in sales in Texas in 2023, according to the release.

“With this acquisition, we've positioned ourselves as Austin's leading brokerage — our commitment to setting new standards and inspiring innovation for all our exceptional agents remains the top priority while honoring what Realty Austin and Realty San Antonio has built," said Compass Texas President Rachel Hocevar.