Rick Perry And Texas Job Numbers

Full disclosure: I don’t like Rick Perry for our next president. I have my reasons that aren’t worth going into here. However, when I was watching the GOP debate and pro-Perry people started bringing up Rick Perry’s job numbers as a cudgel against other candidates, I looked into the BLS data on Texas jobs. Having familiarized myself with the data, I started noticing claims on the Texas jobs data that started popping up that directly contradicted what I was seeing in the data. So I wanted to clear up a couple of these common misconceptions.

Note: If you are going to comment and you want to introduce some new objection to the Texas job numbers, you MUST provide original data. I spent about 4 hours digging through raw data to write this post. I don’t want you to point to some pundit or blog post and take it on their authority, because I’ve already researched several idiot pundits who are talking directly out of their asses when it comes to the data. I want you to point to the raw data that I can examine for myself. This means links. I refuse to waste any more of my time on speculative bullshit or “Well, I’ll wager that the Texas jobs don’t really count because…” If you’re willing to wager, take that money and put it towards finding the actual data. In short, put up or shut up.

I’m not cranky, I swear.

Anyway, let’s deal with the complaints in no particular order:

“Texas has an unemployment rate of 8.2%. That’s hardly exceptional.”

See… that’s what I thought when I started looking at the data. I knew that Utah had a lower unemployment rate than Texas and I kept hearing that Texas was go great at jobs, blah, blah, blah, so I looked up the unemployment rate.

Nothing special.

So I was going to drive my point home that Texas was nothing special by looking at their raw employment numbers and reporting on those. That’s when I saw this:

This may not look like anything special, but I’ve been looking closely at employment data for a couple years now and I’ve become very accustomed to seeing data that looks like this.

In a “normal” employment data set, we can easily look at it and say “Yep, that’s where the recession happened. Sucks to be us.” But not with Texas. With Texas, we say “Damn. Looks like they’ve recovered already.”

(To get to this data, go to this link http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/dsrv?la then select the state or states you want, the select “Statewide”, then select the states again, then select the metrics you want to see.)

But if Texas has so many jobs, why do they have such a high unemployment rate? Let’s take a closer look at that data.

As a percentage of the number of pre-recession jobs, here is a chart of the growth of a selection of states. (For clarity, in this chart I selected a number of the largest states and tried to focus on states that have relatively good economic reputations. I did not chart all 50 states b/c it would have taken me too long.)

We can see that Texas has grown the fastest, having increased jobs by 2.2% since the recession started. I want to take a moment and point out that second place is held by North Dakota. I added North Dakota to my list of states  to show something very important. North Dakota currently has the lowest unemployment rate of any state at 3.2%. And yet Texas is adding jobs at a faster rate than North Dakota. How can this be?

The reason is that people are flocking to Texas in massive numbers. Starting at the beginning of the recession (December 2007), let’s look at how this set of states have grown in their labor force.

As you can see, Texas isn’t just the fastest growing… it’s growing over twice as fast as the second fastest state and three times as fast as the third. Given that Texas is (to borrow a technical term) f***ing huge, this growth is incredible.

People are flocking to Texas in massive numbers. This is speculative, but it *seems* that people are moving to Texas looking for jobs rather than moving to Texas for a job they already have lined up. This would explain why Texas is adding jobs faster than any other state but still has a relatively high unemployment rate.

“Sure, Texas has lots of jobs, but they’re mostly low-paying/minimum wage jobs”

Let’s look at the data. Here’s a link: Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates

Texas median hourly wage is $15.14…  almost exactly in the middle of the pack (28th out of 51 regions). Given that they’ve seen exceptional job growth (and these other states have not) this does not seem exceptionally low.

But the implication here is that the new jobs in Texas, the jobs that Texas seems to stand alone in creating at such a remarkable pace, are low paying jobs and don’t really count.

If this were true, all these new low-paying jobs should be dragging down the wages data, right? But if we look at the wages data since the beginning of the recession (click to enlarge, states are listed alphabetically)

And it turns out that the opposite is true. Since the recession started hourly wages in Texas have increased at a 6th fastest pace in the nation.

As a side note, the only blue state that has faster growing wages is Hawaii. Just thought I’d get that jab in since so many people have been making snarky “Yeah, I could get a job in Texas is I wanted to flip burgers!” comments at me on Twitter.

“Texas is oil country and the recent energy boom is responsible for the incredible jobs increase.”

In identifying “energy jobs” I cast as wide a net as possible. If you want to replicate my findings, go to this link: http://www.bls.gov/sae/data.htm, click on “One-Screen Data Search”, then select “Texas”, then select “Statewide”, then in Supersectors select “Mining and Logging”, “Non-Durable Goods” and “Transportation and Utilities” and then in Industries select “Mining and Logging”, “Natural Gas Distribution”, “Electric Power Generation” and “Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing”.

Tedious, I know, but transparency is important and this is how you get the data.

When we finally get the data, we discover that energy isn’t really the biggest part of the Texas economy. Increases in jobs in the energy sector (or closely related to it) account for about 25% of the job increases in the last year. Since the energy sector only makes up 3% of all employment, there is some truth to this claim.

However, take the energy sector completely out of the equation and Texas is still growing faster than any other state. This indicates to us that the energy sector is not a single sector saving Texas from the same economic fate as the rest of the states. It’s not hurting, but Texas would still be growing like a weed without it.

“Texas has 100,000 unsustainable public sector jobs that inflate the growth numbers.”

I’m not sure where this one comes from, but the numbers are these (and can be found by selecting government employment from the data wizard at this link http://www.bls.gov/sae/data.htm):

Counting from the beginning of the recession (December 2007) the Texas public sector has grown 3.8%, or a little under 70,000 employees. This is faster than normal employment, but it’s not off the charts.

Given that the Texas economy has grown so much and private sector jobs have grown so much, that doesn’t strike me as an unsustainable growth in the public sector.

But, just in case you’re really worried about it, you can lay your fears to rest because in the last year the Texas public sector has shrunk by 26,000 jobs. In the last 12 months, Texas lost 31,300 federal employees, trimmed 3,800 state jobs, and increased local government jobs by 8,400 jobs.

(To be fair, this was partially driven by the role Texas employees played in the census, which inflated federal job numbers this time last year. Since the census numbers stabilized, federal employment has been at about break-even.)

As you can see, we’re nowhere near the “100,000 unsustainable jobs” number.

My Personal Favorite Chart

I’ll leave you with my personal favorite chart. I mentioned at the beginning that Texas is seeing high unemployment in a large part because they’re growing so damn fast. The problem with this from a charts and graphs perspective is that it leaves worse states off the hook, making them look better than they actually are. Looking at unemployment alone, we would conclude that Wisconsin has a better economy than Texas. But Wisconsin is still 120K short of it’s pre-recession numbers. The only reason they look better than Texas is because 32,000 people fled the state.

During that time, 739,000 people fled into Texas. Anyone who takes that data and pretends that this is somehow bad news for Texas is simply not being honest. At the worst, I’d call it a good problem to have.

So, to give something of a better feeling for the economic situation across states, this chart takes the population of the states I selected above and judges the current job situation against the population as it stood at the beginning of the recession.

Using that metric, Texas would have a very low unemployment rate of 2.3%. But the fact that unemployment in the United States is fluid means that the unemployed flock to a place where there are jobs, which inflates its unemployment rate (at least in the short term). It’s not a bad thing for Texas… it just looks bad when dealing with the isolated “unemployment %” statistic.

UPDATE: @francisgagnon on Twitter felt that this chart was dishonest because it charts Texas as having 2.3% unemployment and (in his words so I don’t get him wrong): “It assumes immigrants create no jobs. But more people = more consumers = more jobs.”

He is absolutely right about this. I tried to be clear above that this chart doesn’t account for the fluid nature of an economy with immigration and departures of hundreds of thousands of people, but I don’t want to leave anyone with the wrong impression. So here it is: This chart doesn’t account for the fluid nature of an economy with immigrations and departures of hundreds of thousands of people. The point of this chart is not to say “Texas should have 2.3% unemployment if only things were fair.” Instead, it is an attempt to chart job growth in such a way that controls for people leaving one job market to enter another. To say “Wisconsin has a better job market than Texas because its unemployment rate is 0.6% lower” is a wholly untrue statement even though it cites accurate numbers. What this chart is meant to do is not posit a counter-factual, but to give a visual representation of the employment reality that is obscured by the way we calculate unemployment numbers.

END UPDATE

And… that’s it.

You may have noticed that I don’t mention Rick Perry very much here. That is because Rick Perry is, in my opinion, ancillary to this entire discussion. He was governor while these these numbers happened, so good for him. Maybe that means these jobs they are his “fault”. Maybe the job situation is the result of his policies. Or maybe Texas is simply the least bad option in a search for a favorable economic climate.

That is not an argument I’m having at this exact moment. My point is to show that most of the “excuses” you will hear about Texas’ job statistics are based in nothing more than a hope that Rick Perry had nothing to do with them and not on a sound understanding of the data.

My advice to anti-Perry advocates is this: Give up talking about Texas jobs. Texas is an incredible outlier among the states when it comes to jobs. Not only are they creating them, they’re creating ones with higher wages.

One can argue that Perry had very little to do with the job situation in Texas, but such a person should be probably prepare themselves for the consequences of that line of reasoning. If Rick Perry had nothing to do with creating jobs in Texas, than why does Obama have something to do with creating jobs anywhere? And why would someone advocate any sort of “job creating” policies if policies don’t seem to matter when it comes to the decade long governor of Texas? In short, it seems to me that this line of reasoning, in addition to sounding desperate and partisan, hogties its adherents into a position where they are simultaneously saying that government doesn’t create jobs while arguing for a set of policies where government will create jobs.

Or, to an uncharitable eye, it seem they are saying “Policies create jobs when they are policies I like. They don’t create jobs when they are policies I dislike.”

People will continue to argue about the data. But hopefully this will be helpful in sorting out reality from wishful and desperate thinking. I mentioned on Twitter that the Texas jobs situation was nothing short of miraculous. This is why I said that and why I’m standing by that statement.

650 comments

  1. YR says:

    I was gonna cite a blog after reading the first sentence but it just says in other words the same thing you did but using news articles instead of simply raw data and addresses other criticisms of Perry.

  2. Al says:

    Impressive work. crabby man. Hope you didn’t wake the baby up with all that chart crunching.

  3. sybilll says:

    Excellent post and analysis. There was an interactive map posted on Forbes about the Northeast migration to Texas and the south in general, but, it has not been updated since 2008. I have seriously considered a move to Texas myself.

  4. […] had a whole lot of interest in) I really don’t have the time or patience to do something like this post about Texas job and unemployment numbers over at the blog Political Math (which is written by Matthias Shapiro, the same guy responsible for […]

  5. Jim (pthread) says:

    Thanks for the research, very well done.

    re: the fist point (and we started a discussion about this on Twitter), I still am unsure of two things:

    1.) Why is absolute job growth considered a good thing in light of rather typical unemployment numbers, as a percentage? I believe you make an argument that the distinction can be made, but unless I missed it, there’s no argument why it is a better measure.

    Certainly there’s a reason we use the relative measures of percentage of people unemployed, it’s a more important measure of the health of a state. Simply from a revenues/outlays perspective in managing a state budget, lower unemployment is more beneficial.

    2.) I’m not sure I necessarily agree with your point about people having to have left other states and come to Texas to find jobs. Since Texas’s unemployment rate roughly tracked the national average, why would someone move there to seek a job? The unemployment rate, at a very high-level, is your *chance* of finding a job. Would you move to a state that is creating jobs more jobs in an absolute sense, but has a higher unemployment rate, without job prospects in hand? I wouldn’t.

    I think the actual answer lies in their cheap cost of living, most largely driven by cheap housing. Certainly it’s not unreasonable to presume that while your prospects of getting a job in Texas are no better than anywhere else, people would flock there for cheap rent.

    I’m unaware of a good source of population increase per year, or of one that breaks down population changes by demographics. Are you?

  6. Jim (pthread) says:

    A related question, and correct me if I’m wrong on this one: isn’t a necessary consequence of leaning on the fact that Texas has created a lot of jobs (in the absolute sense) recognition of the fact that they must have put *even more* people in the unemployment line (again, in an absolute sense) to have had their unemployment rate go up?

    That may seem like an obvious statement, but I think it completely deflates the idea that their absolute job creation was some sort of miracle, or even a good thing.

  7. Jay says:

    I think your questions 1) and 2) kind of answer each other. Employment rate as an indicator necessarily lags population growth–you can’t create a job for someone who’s not there. However, the raw data shows that Texas *is* adding jobs, in a time when a lot of states aren’t.

    Looking at unemployment rate as a chance to find a job is only a sensible move if the job market isn’t expanding (as it is continuing to do in Texas). You are more likely to find a job in Texas than in a hypothetical state with the same 8.2% unemployment rate and no job creation, because in Texas there are more jobs being created as more people arrive in the state.

    Cost of living is another interesting topic. I’m from the Pittsburgh area, and I know that in my general area (Cleveland and Pittsburgh), living in the cities is significantly less expensive than it is to live in major cities in Texas (Dallas and Austin are the ones I saw data for, but I can’t find it again; I’ll try to locate it and show it here). Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio are not the target of a great migration of out-of-work employees.

    I do suspect that at least some people moving to Texas aren’t finding employment right away, and that there are some native Texans out of work, too. I would chalk this up to the lag time in job creation, and I’d expect the rate in Texas to come back down more quickly than in other states as (if) the national economy recovers. Moving to Texas in search of a job might be a bit speculative, but (in all honesty) it’s a better speculation than moving to Pennsylvania for one.

  8. Dave says:

    This is exactly why I read this blog regularly. Excellent analysis from real data. (I almost said “unbiased” analysis, but there isn’t really any such thing. All analysis comes with some bias.) I really admire your willingness to look at data, let the data guide you and be transparent so others can verify and extend your findings. It’s also a great learning resource.

  9. Chuck says:

    What is your point? Are you trying to say vote for Obama because of your research shows Texas employment numbers are better than the nations?

    Please do the same research on the nation including showing the source of proof that millions of jobs have been saved due to Obama’s policies. Oh, also report how the numbers and percentage of unemployed has been adjust down due to the manipulation of how unemployment is reported i.e. when a person stops looking for a job they are no longer considered unemployed. Oh, also please graph the impact McDonald’s and other fast food retailers’ summer hiring has had on the how unemployment numbers are reported for June and July.

    The world is eagerly awaiting your unbiased findings.

  10. Raul Torres says:

    Excellent work and research. Thank you for doing this for the people of Amercia. Facts don’t lie. They are what they are. I’m sure there will this who will disregard your facts and that’s ok. Jesus did tell us “If the blind lead the blind shall they not both fall int the ditch?”. Watch out for ditches they are everywhere.

  11. Jim (pthread) says:

    @Jay: But the unemployment rate is lower in Pennsylvania. Therefore your “chance” of finding a job in Pennsylvania is higher. This is why I don’t get why focusing on absolute jobs created is a valuable metric.

    If I move to Texas because they created X jobs, but X+(X/2) people are looking for jobs, why is that a smarter bet than moving to Pennsylvania where they’re creating fewer jobs, say Y, where Y = X-(X/2), but only Y+(Y/4) people are looking for jobs? (If that vague representation is confusing for you, it’s a dumb way of saying that you are competing against fewer people for each job in PA than in TX).

  12. politicalmath says:

    Jim, an unemployment rate has nothing to do with your “chance” at getting a job. It is a simple “employed – to – unemployed” comparison. If the unemployed people leave the labor force without getting a job, the unemployment rate goes down. This does not increase the “chance” that someone else will get a job.

    If we’re talking about “chances” of getting a job, we’re talking about job movement over time. If a state is losing jobs month over month, you’re looking at negative job movement over time, which means you’re looking at a lower “chance” at getting a job. You’re always better off at a place where the raw number of jobs is increasing.

    Texas is absorbing job seekers. Maybe you think they’re not absorbing them fast enough, but the fact of the matter is that they’re absorbing them faster than any other state in the country.

    Much faster.

    This post is just saying that Texas is the #1 job creator. By a lot. Even when considering several factors, Texas is far and away a monster job creating engine. Now maybe being 1st place isn’t good enough for you, but then I don’t really know what to say.

  13. t.j. says:

    fantastic job! thanks for compiling all the data/statistics for us. some of us already know that texas is the greatest state in the nation, but folks from the other 49 (jealous!!) need to know texas exceptionalism too! :~))

  14. ctech says:

    Thanks for the post! One suggestion though: I’d love to see labels on the x and y axes of your graphs and some titles, too. It takes me awhile to understand what I’m looking at and having to look back and forth between the text and the graph has proven to not be as effective as some labels.

    Thanks!

  15. DanMan says:

    wow! guess I’ll stay awhile

  16. Jim (pthread) says:

    No, it very much discusses your chance of getting a job (obviously at high level, leaving out individual skills and needs in various sectors). As you point out, it’s employed vs unemployed, accounting for people actually looking. If that unemployment number is low, regardless of whether the economy is shedding jobs or gaining them, your chances of find a new job are much better. If that number is higher, regardless of whether the economy overall is shedding jobs it is going to be harder.

    Do you honestly believe it’s easier to find a job in Texas right now at 8.2% unemployment than say North Dakota at 3.2%? Of course you don’t. Let’s not be silly here.

    Further, you ignored my other point regarding adding to the unemployment lines. I checked, and it appears based on bls.gov that Texas not only has added the most new jobs, but it’s expanded its unemployed by the second most as well.

    I think considering this properly demonstrates why considering absolute job creation is a poor measure of anything. Certainly I wouldn’t attempt to argue that Texas has been a horrible state for working people to live in because it has the second most unemployed people added over the past decade. That’s preposterous. You have to take into account jobs created as well. And of course the reverse is true.

    I think this is patently obvious, but I’ll pass on making a snarky remark about what may or may not be good for you. I’d appreciate it if in the future you granted me the same privilege.

  17. Greg Q says:

    “A related question, and correct me if I’m wrong on this one: isn’t a necessary consequence of leaning on the fact that Texas has created a lot of jobs (in the absolute sense) recognition of the fact that they must have put *even more* people in the unemployment line (again, in an absolute sense) to have had their unemployment rate go up?”

    No.

    Did you even bother to read the post, because your claim completely misses the point. Oh well, I’ll take one stab at it with a simple example:

    100 people lose their jobs in PA. They then all move to TX. 90 of them get jobs in the next month. What is the effects on the statistics?

    Well, PA keeps its low unemployment (none of those people are unemployed there), and loses some overall jobs and population.

    TX gains 100 people, 90 jobs, and a slight increase in the unemployment rate, since of the 100 people who moved there, 10% are still unemployed.

    People are moving to Texas because that’s where opportunity is, that’s where jobs are. If you want to disprove this claim, you need an employment survey that looks at how long the unemployed in Texas have lived in Texas. Got one?

  18. Joel Mackey says:

    DO NOT COME TO TEXAS! There are Mexican gangs that will shoot you, gang rape you, and burn you, then hang you.

    You will get a minimum wage job, because all the high paying jobs go to native texans only, they do a blood test.

    You will have to associate with rednecks who vote republican and believe abortion is murder, they will also ask you if you love Jesus!

    If after all that, you stupidly still want to come to Texas, just promise Texas this one small thing. Do not vote in any election period. If your judgement in selecting politicians was any good, you would not be leaving where you are coming from, so do not bring your flawed voting decisions to Texas and screw it up too.

  19. politicalmath says:

    Jim,

    I’d love to look at your data about this rather than playing theoretical mental games about how people find work.

    Here’s your task: Find the data on how long people are unemployed by state. This would tell us a great deal more about the composition of the unemployed and the “chances” of finding a job.

    As for “adding” to the unemployment lines, you’ve provided no data that Texas is “adding” to the unemployment lines rather than that they unemployed are moving to Texas to look for a job.

    So, find the data to support your position. Then we can talk.

  20. Greg Q says:

    I’m going to join in with the others and say this is a great post. Thanks!

    One thought: Do you know the “underemployed” and “discouraged worker” rates for Texas. I’d be really interested to see how those compare to the rates for the US, but have no idea how to go about getting them.

  21. Jim (pthread) says:

    Actually, sorry, I misspoke, Texas is 3rd (behind California and Florida) in absolute numbers of people added to the unemployment line in over the last 10 years.

  22. amy says:

    Jim, as a Texan, I’d like to say, “Please continue thinking you are correct despite raw data showing otherwise. Texas would be a terrible terrible place for you.”

    Also, I am going to save this quote “If that unemployment number is low, regardless of whether the economy is shedding jobs or gaining them, your chances of find a new job are much better.” It’s probably one of the most awesome things I’ve seen in quite a while. Bravo sir.

  23. David says:

    My personal favorite mini-stat is to compare the two largest states, CA and TX. CA has lost roughly 500k jobs since the recession began, TX gained about 600k.

    So I like to say, CA and TX have, between them, increased jobs by 100k: TX has increased them by 600k and CA has lost 500k.

    (Plz note that I say “gained” rather than “created” as I agree that governments do little to create jobs, the best you can hope for is that they don’t destroy too many.)

  24. Rob says:

    Met a fellow in a bar the other day here in Austin. He had just moved to Austin two days earlier, from California. He had been unemployed in California and he hadn’t found a job yet in Austin. He said he moved here for at least a hope of a job and that he loved California, but hated its government so much he could no longer suffer to live there.

    As for Rick Perry, I would say he played a part in fueling the Texas economy. If nothing else, he’s been a tireless voice saying over and over that government should be as small and unobtrusive as possible and that the federal government should keep its nose out of state business.

    Interesting to see what will happen to his anti-federalist beliefs if he gets elected.

  25. homeboy says:

    How much of the population growth is related to illegal immigration in Texas?

  26. amy says:

    homeboy – There are ‘supposedly’ about 1.2 million illegals in Texas. I’d say you can probably safely triple that number if you include those using stolen/forged identities. The illegals are nearly all working though, so I’m not entirely sure how you factor that in. Not sure about the growth rate.

  27. Jim (pthread) says:

    I’m unclear on why I need to provide data to wield an absolute number without context but you do not. Clearly migrants coming to Texas is a large part of why the number of jobs created has been so large. Do you have data that shows migrants to Texas haven’t, by and large, had a positive impact on Texas’s economy?

    That’s an exceedingly difficult question to answer either way, and I think you know that. I’ll reiterate my question above, asking if you know of any good sources that break down demographics of migrants at a state level, beyond just ethnicity and into education, wealth, and even perhaps (most helpful) how long it took them to find a job upon arriving.

    Certainly I’m not the one trying to make the claim here that there’s anything extraordinary about Texas, so I shouldn’t have to be the one making this argument.

    I’m happy to do so if you know of any good sources of data, but based on the data you provided, your argument simply isn’t supported.

  28. Jim (pthread) says:

    (argument one that is)

  29. Would like to see what the U.S. unemployment numbers would look like if Texas were not growing jobs at faster than the national rate, and those otherwise unemployed people were included in the national unemployment calculations. Next post, perhaps?

  30. […] is a very interesting blog post at Political Math (via Instapundit) explaining why the attacks on Rick Perry based on Texas’ […]

  31. furious says:

    Question about the BLS numbers and, in particular, wage data…

    BLS released a report on 2010 jobs data showing Texas tied with Mississippi at 9.5% w/highest proportion of hourly workers earning at/below minimum wage, and in TX min. wage is same as Fed’l std.

    http://www.bls.gov/ro6/fax/minwage_tx.htm

    Are there any cross-tabs’ data correlating min. wage earners with age, time in work force, or immigration status? As I understand the data, the BLS tabulates for all workers regardless of immigration status.

    Given the in-migration to TX, the even greater growth of the Hispanic population and its relative youth, and the likelihood of a large pool of undocumented workers, be interesting to see how wage rates correspond, or not, and if there is dynamic data on length of time subjects remain at min. wage.

    Jim (pthread):
    Unemployment rate is moving target. It can go up because fewer people are employed(numerator) or because more people enter the workforce to look for work (denominator), or both. A state can have a lower unemployment rate because the unemployed give up looking for work and leave the labor force or a higher one because people in-migrate and begin looking for work. One would need to look at, say, the 18-65 population, the percentage of those in the labor force, the percentage of the labor force employed, and changes over time, to see how well a state maintains/grows its employment base.

  32. Machinist says:

    Very impressive post showing a lot of hard work and clear thinking. Thank you.

  33. Big D says:

    Regarding the unemployment rate…

    As some folks are trying to explain, the problem here is that half of the primary metrics are snapshots, and taking a series of snapshots does not always adequately introduce time as a variable.

    A good metric might be the average or median length of time between moving to Texas (with no specific offer or prospect) and obtaining employment. This would directly answer some of the concerns raised above. AFAIK, there is no such metric available, and obtaining sufficient unskewed data might be problematic at best.

    It’s not all that different from the issue of income distribution as a snapshot at any given point in time, versus studies that have tracked the income mobility of samples of individuals over time. What looks like a distinct set of fixed classes in the collected snapshots begins to blur when drilling down to individual life paths over time.

  34. Silverback says:

    The math is quite murky and the story that it tells depends on who’s telling and how numbers being used. But go to Dallas and look around. Compare the quality of economic life to pretty much anywhere else in the U.S. You won’t have to bring a calculator to see that Texas is in a different world than the rest of the Obama-wracked nation.

  35. Jim (pthread) says:

    Oh, and to Greg Q:

    Regarding your hypothetical, I think you fail to miss the point because you haven’t taken your example to the next iteration. If 100 people leave Pennsylvania, go to Texas, and only 10 of them find jobs there, what does that say about Texas’s ability to provide jobs as compared to Pennsylvania’s? Pennsylvania now has 100 fewer people competing for jobs, while Texas has 100 more.

    Now consider that Texas is seeing immigration from not just Pennsylvania, but most states in the US as well as foreign immigration.

    Things just got easier for Pennsylvania job seekers, and harder for job seekers in Texas. That’s pretty cut and dry.

  36. BillyBob32 says:

    This article is BS and so is everyone here acting like it proves something.

    If the argument is texas is better at job growth all you had to do was compare private sector non energy job growth percentages to that of other states…

    Yet the only statistic that mattered was completely left out. Maybe on purpose? Maybe he learned statistics in the texas school system? i dunno.

    But this whole thing 100% failed at making a point, and you can take that statistic to the bank.

  37. Mike Eustace says:

    Found this by a link via Instapundit. My hat is off to you because you obviously are not a Perry or Texas fan, yet you have the integrity to call it as it is. Speaking as a Texan, I have to say Rick Perry deserves a significant amount of credit just because he ignored the media and others who are always campaigning for Texas to be more like California or some northeastern state, and stayed the conservative fiscal course. Our conservative legislature deserves equal credit.

    What Texas has done is something to brag about considering how much obama has tried to hurt our economy (if you haven’t heard, do some research), but what is truly amazing is Texas has prospered despite the majority of our fellow states with all the attendant interconnected economic ties being in a virtual depression. It is like we are dragging dead weight to have almost everyone in our family of states riding on our backs.

    In would be interesting to see what the U.S. economic condition would look like with Texas excluded from the statistics. My guess is that the numbers would be much scarier than they already are.

    Anyway, lots of folks in other states are anti-Texas/anti-Texan, and maybe we deserve some of the insults, but if we are truly a 50 state economic experiment, the evidence is in that a low tax, mildly regulated, low lawsuit state that makes use of its natural resources is the most successful. I visited California in February, and as a Texan, this is hard to say, but California has been blessed with all natural resources Texas has and even more, yet they are an economic basket case.

    For that reason, I encourage all of you to consider the evidence and vote for the people who will change the direction of this country from the California economic model to the Texas model.

  38. kafer says:

    (Anecdotal) facts on the ground: I’ve recently spent time north of Dallas helping relatives look for affordable housing, and a young adult find a job. Results: office-type employment found. Companies are hiring, but it is competitive.

    Inexpensive housing? Snapped up before you can dial the number. Realtors tell me that houses for lease are “like gold,” leased within days. The market for small houses — 3/2 , maybe 1300 sq. ft., garage, small fenced yard — available for $100/sq.ft., low interest rates, great community amenities — is “hot” and quick-selling. Newer apartments above 90% rented. Earth movers and construction crews are busy clearing for more housing, a huge new hospital, shopping development and so forth. I saw an incredible number of out-of-state license plates.

    Guess what else seems to be going up? Crime: neighborhood and apartment disturbances, theft, drugs. That too is based on my relatives’ experiences and realtors’ comments, so I have no stats.

  39. […] From the blog: Political Math Great analysis from a self-proclaimed non-Perry supporter. Rick Perry and Texas Job Numbers Full disclosure: I don't like Rick Perry for our next president. I have my reasons that aren't […]

  40. CG says:

    Thank you very much for this, sir.

  41. Silverback says:

    More anecdotes: I moved to North Texas a year ago because good, stable jobs were being added faster than they could be filled. The opportunities are still multiplying. People are still coming.

    I call BS on the housing comment. I’ve lived in every corner of the country and have never seen a housing market that gives more “bang for the buck”. Perhaps if one insists on living in a luxurious downtown condo, the competition is still great. In the burbs we are paying a fraction of the housing costs, compared to other major metro areas. You can look that one up.

    No, you indeed won’t have crime stats that back your observation.

  42. amy says:

    ” If 100 people leave Pennsylvania, go to Texas, and only 10 of them find jobs there, what does that say about Texas’s ability to provide jobs as compared to Pennsylvania’s? Pennsylvania now has 100 fewer people competing for jobs, while Texas has 100 more.
    Now consider that Texas is seeing immigration from not just Pennsylvania, but most states in the US as well as foreign immigration.
    Things just got easier for Pennsylvania job seekers, and harder for job seekers in Texas. That’s pretty cut and dry.

    What in your hypothetical leads you to believe the job situation is any better in PA? If 100 people left the state for the mere HOPE of a job elsewhere, that should tell you the situation they left behind is terrible.

  43. ID says:

    Good job on not accepting the political establishment’s talking points. You are now officially a better journalist than 99.9% of the “professional journalists” out there.

  44. Thank you for investigating this, and maintaining objectivity. It’s not easy to do, and most people settle for what appeases their personal views instead of looking further. Well done 🙂

  45. Shefali says:

    I appreciate FACTS based arguments rather than opinions, and I appreciate this article because of the raw data provided plus the graphs that make it easier to decipher.

    I also think that, while government cannot create jobs, it CAN create an environment that suppresses job creation by private industry. The more a government taxes a behavior, the less of that behavior naturally occurs. The current environment in Washington is unfriendly to businesses. Therefore, having a President who at least is willing to have a more laissez-faire approach to the economy – that would be a good thing.

    I too have mixed feelings about Rick Perry. I personally think he would be a lot better than the current incumbent, but he is not the best possible candidate. However, unfortunately, Presidential elections are often based on selecting the better of two options. I do have a great deal of faith in America, however, regardless of who ends up being President.

  46. Sam says:

    Joel Mackey
    August 16th, 2011 – 13:26
    “DO NOT COME TO TEXAS! There are Mexican gangs that will shoot you, gang rape you, and burn you, then hang you.
    You will get a minimum wage job, because all the high paying jobs go to native texans only, they do a blood test.
    You will have to associate with rednecks who vote republican and believe abortion is murder, they will also ask you if you love Jesus!
    If after all that, you stupidly still want to come to Texas, just promise Texas this one small thing. Do not vote in any election period. If your judgement in selecting politicians was any good, you would not be leaving where you are coming from, so do not bring your flawed voting decisions to Texas and screw it up too.”

    You forgot to mention that Texas is covered with deadly poison rattle snakes and water moccasins as well as overrun with coyotes and cougars. We also all carry six shooters and “High Noon” style gun-fights are constantly going on. Please for your own safety, stay in Detroit, New York DC, California etc.

    It has also long been said that, “The Devil used to own all of Hell and all of Hell. Texas was too hot for him, so he abandoned Texas and moved to Hell.”

  47. Jim (pthread) says:

    Amy: My argument is that they’re leaving Texas for the cheap cost of living, not specifically because of the promise of jobs (because, as I’ve said, Texas’s unemployment has historically tracked the nation’s pretty well).

  48. djaymick says:

    Wow. This is what investigative journalism used to look like. Democrats love to make up stories when it suits them well. They even have the media echoing their falsehoods. No wonder we are becoming a dumber society. The media used to teach us what was right and wrong. Now, they don’t care about history or facts when it comes to defending “their party”.