The Texas Jobs Panic

The Wall Street Journal

Liberals try to discredit the Lone Star State’s economic success.

Rick Perry is not the subtlest politician, but he looks like Pericles next to the liberals falling over themselves to discredit job creation in Texas. We’d have thought any new jobs would be a blessing when 25 million Americans are looking for full-time work, but apparently new jobs aren’t valuable jobs if they’re created in a state that rejects Obamanomics.

Let’s dissect the Texas record. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas reported this summer that Texas created 37% of all net new American jobs since the recovery began in June 2009. Texas by far outpaced every other state, including those with large populations like New York and California and those with faster-growing economies, like North Dakota. Other states have lower unemployment rates than Texas’s 8.2%, though that is below the national average and the state is also adding jobs faster than any other.

Texas is also among the three states and the District of Columbia that are home to more jobs today than when the recession began in December 2007. Without the Texas gains, according to the Dallas Fed, annual U.S. job growth would have been 0.97% instead of 1.17%. Over the past five years, Texas has added more net new jobs than all other states combined.

The critics claim demography is destiny, and of course jobs and population tend to rise and fall in tandem. The number of Texans is booming: According to the Census Bureau, the population grew 20.6% between 2000 and 2010, behind only Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Arizona. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the seasonally adjusted size of the Texas labor force has increased by 5% since December 2007, faster than any state other than North Carolina at 5.4%, though the Tar Heel State has declined 0.4% over the last year. The labor force has shrunk in 28 states since December 2007.

Some of this Texas growth is due to high birth rates, some to immigration. But it also reflects the flight of people from other states. People and capital are mobile and move where the opportunities are greatest. Texas is attractive to workers and employers alike because of its low costs of living and doing business. The government in Austin is small, taxes are low, regulation is stable, and the litigation system is more predictable after Mr. Perry’s tort reforms—all of which is a magnet for private investment and hiring.

As for the critics, well, one of their explanations is that Americans are moving to Texas because of the nice weather. The temperature in Fort Worth this week reached 108 degrees.

The critics also claim that Texas’s new jobs somehow don’t count because the wages are supposedly low and the benefits stingy. Yet BLS pegs the median hourly wage in Texas at $15.14, 93% of the national average, and wages have increased at a good clip: in fact, the 10th fastest state in 2010 at 3.4%.

The Texas skeptics often invoke high energy prices, as if Texas were some sheikdom next to Mexico. But according to the Dallas Fed study, energy jobs accounted for only 10.6% of the new positions. The state economy today is far more broadly based than it was before the early-1980s oil-and-gas bust. For the last nine years, Texas has led the states in exports.

To put a finer point on it, the energy industry isn’t expanding merely because of rising oil prices or new natural resources. Technological innovation is also driving the business, such as the horizontal drilling that has enabled shale oil and gas fracking. New ideas are how an economy expands.

Nearly 31% of the new Texas jobs are in health care, many of which are no doubt the product of federal entitlements that go to every state. But the state is also making progress filling in historical access gaps in west and south Texas and the panhandle, where Mr. Perry’s 2003 malpractice caps have led to an influx of doctors, especially high-risk specialists. The Texas Public Policy Foundation estimates that the state has netted 26,000 new physicians in the wake of reform, most from out of state.

Liberals do have a point that Texas avoided the worst of the housing boom and bust, in part because of regulations imposed in the S&L backwash that limit mortgage borrowing to 80% of the appraised value of a home. But isn’t this smart regulation? These same liberals promoted rules that kept down payments much lower than 20% at federal agencies, and they’re now encouraging the Administration to prop up housing to prevent foreclosures and thus prevent the market from finding a bottom.

Mr. Perry’s Texas record is far from perfect, as Charles Dameron recently showed on these pages with his reporting on the Governor’s politicized venture-capital fund. But the larger story is that Mr. Perry inherited a well-functioning economy and has managed it well, mainly by avoiding the kind of policy disruptions that his liberal critics favor in the name of this or that social or political goal. This achievement may not earn a Nobel prize in economics, but it does help explain why Texas is outperforming the nation.


  1. Carolyn and Lonnie: I don’t know who has it worse with regard to our local “rags.” If we want any daily print media locally, we have to settle for the left-promoting Austin (Un)American Statesman. Ever since Governor Perry’s “star” began to rise on the national scene, the topical editorials, the political cartoons and the letters-to-the-editor selected for publication have been overwhelmingly petty, disingenuous and mean-spirited. Sure, Perry has made some mistakes in his years as Governor of the great state of Texas. And he’s publicly ADMITTED that some of them WERE mistakes (unlike the current occupant of the White House); but, then again, everyone who has ever done anything of consequence has made mistakes. The secret is that we should all try diligently to learn from our mistakes…and not repeat them on Sept. 6, 2012.

    “When the history of the 2012 presidential election is written, what will we remember? That a conservative Republican challenged a socialist nightmare for the leadership of the country — and won? Or that the Republican Party nominated another squish who allowed the worst president in our history to follow through on his promise to ‘fundamentally transform the United States of America.’” – Doug Patton, article posted on Liberty Extra, 8/10/11.

  2. The Chronicle reminds me of a joke (it is a joke of a news paper) about a a fellow who was always playing the roulette wheel in the local saloon — and losing. A friend ask him why he keeps betting on the roulette wheel even though he knows it is rigged. The answer — it is the only wheel in town.

    We know the Chronicle is rigged in favor of the socialists and democrats but it is the only paper in town.

  3. The Houston Chronicle has DAILY, and I mean daily, run articles disparaging Perry and now Bachmann. Oh, how we miss the Houston Post – bought out by The Chronicle to force people to buy one newspaper. If there was another local I would be the first to buy it. It is just one rag of a newspaper full of the usual media liberals – I read the headlines and note the bias and move on – takes 10 minutes to digest the junk and find something else to do. Oh, how I miss the Houston Post!

  4. I believe a 11 years going on 12 years as Governor is why we are looking good in Texas,
    Governor Rick Perry is a 3 term Governor, longest sitting Governor too.
    Just had to say that Liberals are so far out left field they can’t find their nose.

    Just had to say that, WE HAVE JOBS.
    We have more outsiders than we have Texans living here.
    So that means we have more people moving to Texas and Businesses. Here in Texas.


  5. Thanks Governor Perry for Texas and helping her grow, and knowing how to save and cut and balance our budget, thanks for the jobs.
    Congress and Senate did try to Cap, Cut and Balance for a reason, don’t spend what you don’t have.
    Liberals took the Cut , Cap and Balance and messed it up by back room deals and fixing it so Obama would approve it. Because he would not pass what the Republicans did, But Harry Reid said it was dead on arrival. House already passed Cut Cap and Balance.
    Learn not to spend what you don’t have our you will lose your credit rating.
    Governor Perry could teach the Liberals a thing or two about ecomonics.
    Save—-Cut, Cap and Balance. You have no money and don’t spend. And no Blank Checks.

    I am so glad I live in Texas. God Bless Texas and God Bless America Again.

  6. Lucky me, I live in Texas. Let the clueless libs look down their snarky noses at us. We love our state and the way we are able to function in it.

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