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.


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.


  1. […] Although Texas has seen a big rise in low-wage service jobs, it hasn’t all been clerks and burger flippers. Average wages in Texas have gone up pretty strongly over the past few years. Median hourly wages in Texas are about average, but they’ve risen at the sixth-highest rate in the country since 2008. […]

  2. […] Coupled with the attacks on Perry are attacks on Texas, which has done well during the ten years that Perry has been governor. This writer, who I’ve watched off and on for a couple of years, has a detailed analysis of the… […]

  3. MikeTimes says:

    As an unabashed, antiquated patriot, I would like to add my appreciation to the others. You perform a great service for your country and it encourgaes me that some out there are still trying to find the truth and think. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.

  4. crazymuffyhead says:

    I have a very close friend who is a geologist and has been in the “oil business” for many years. He recently had to file for bankruptcy… this is why.

    I requested a few million dollard from the DOE. (can’t remember maybe 3-4 million) to help him drill for oil that he says he knows is abundant in an area of Texas. The DOE as in Department of ENERGY strung him along for a year +. amd then finally told him, “We don’t loan money to oil.” Funny, huh? because Obama makes oil deals with Brazil and Argentina to drill in OUR waters and then promises to buy back the oil from them…. but our own energy department cannot make a loan of a relatively minor amount to encourage a small businessman with a fine reputation and history.

    I asked my friend about Shell, Exon, etc and he said they will not take a teeny risk to produce a HUGE profit for themselves. They want the small guy to take the risk but will be happy to profit once that risk shows results. This has been such a tragic situation. They did not have to file bankruptcy because of overspending on their personal spending habits but because they were a small business trying to survive. The small businessman is frequently the loser. Such a shame.

  5. All The Facts, Please! says:

    This analysis seems flawed by relying on some logical fallacies and by omitting the effects of some highly relevant economic facts and principles. Here’s a rough first pass:

    1. Logical Fallacy: How can the current U.S. president be responsible for poor job growth across the country due to federal policies but in Texas these same influences don’t apply. Is this the power of prayer or black magic at work in Texas? Of course this is nonsense; if the current president has implemented such bad policies, Texas would be just as badly impacted as other states.

    2. Logical Fallacy: If every state implemented the same pro-business or low-cost policies you suggest are at play in the Texas job numbers (deregulation, taxes and cost of living), there would be no more Texas advantage. So there is a clear logical fallacy that the good Governor Perry could create any advantage for the country as a whole, unless there is some evidence that Texas job growth is driven by stronger international competitiveness while paying higher-than-average wages as you claim Texas is doing. Stronger international competitiveness requires lower wages for manufacturing and non-skilled jobs. There is simply no plausible way to override this fact of international competition.

    3. Logical Fallacy: You present no evidence to substantiate any role other than the luck of having oil deposits at a time of record high oil prices and the luck of being a huge state with millions of acres of undeveloped land to keep housing costs low.

    4. Material Omission: You ignore any numeric analysis of the hugely relevant and obvious facts that there is a significant multiplier effect created by higher-wage energy sector jobs, which you estimate comprise 25% of the job growth enjoyed by Texas in recent years. A modest estimated multiplier of 1.5 jobs resulting from every higher paying energy-sector job is reasonable based on well respected economic analyses (links ***), yielding a more accurate number of 35% of Texas job growth due to a booming oil industry.

    5. Logical Fallacy: This 35% share of new jobs (in the Texas engergy sector) results from record high international oil prices, which has hugely more to do with communist China’s economic policies than the economic policies of the U.S. president or of any state’s governor, including Texas.

    6. Material Omission: To the extent that higher oil prices are paid by consumers and business in all states, other states suffer from an out-migration of billions of dollars to Texas as well as oil-producing countries, depressing money available for consumption spending and driving their job growth numbers lower. In relative terms, this makes the Texas numbers comparatively better than other states.

    7. Material Omission: You ignore any numerical analysis of the hugely relevant and obvious fact that there is also a significant multiplier effect created by the large number of workers migrating to Texas from other states with their household wealth and (mostly federal-deficit funded) unemployment insurance benefits. You cite the fact that hundreds of thousands of job-seeking workers have moved to Texas from other states but don’t research/estimate how many are collecting Unemployment Benefits paid by their home states and/or the federal government. If 200,000 workers collecting unemployment for a year have moved to Texas, using the average national rate of unemployment of $300/week (****), there’s a windfall to Texas of $60 million/week or $3 BILLION dollars of consumption spending added to the Texas enconomy each year, much of it funded by federal (deficit) spending. In effect, Texas easily has a largely federally funded below-the-radar stimulus package of $3 billion per year in unemployment benefits alone, while other states are losing the benefit of this same $3 billion per year from their local economies, depressing their relative job numbers further. In addition, how much household wealth has followed these workers to Texas and been spent there, given that the unemployed often are forced to spend their savings on living expenses. An estimate of one new job for every four unemployed workers migrating to Texas is reasonable; using these numbers that’s 50,000 new jobs out of the 400,000 new jobs cited, which is 12.5% of the Texas job growth.

    SUMMARY: Texas has not only benefited from record high international oil prices, but also has benefited from the economic effects of population migration from other states, which in turn have suffered from these same two factors (higher oil prices and labor migrations). So, while Texas gets a boost from these factors, other states’ economies necessarily have suffer in this largely zero-sum-game environment of almost no growth in the overall national economy of the United States.

    Much of what is happening in the Texas numbers compared with other states is really no different from what happens when one city lures a business to relocate from another city in the same state with whatever incentives they want to provide. The end result for the state is lower tax revenues but no new jobs, even though one city comes out ahead of the others when comparing the numbers.

    Am I missing something?

  6. […] Shapiro has done some great analysis. Head over to Political Math and check it out. Rick Perry And Texas Job Numbers « Political Math. […]

  7. Demosthenes says:

    In response to the hilariously-misnamed “All the Facts, Please!” who asks:

    “Am I missing something?

    Quite a bit, actually.

    Your #1 misses the crucial element of local control. The effects of President Obama’s policies are felt nationwide — but that doesn’t mean Governor Perry doesn’t have an influence either. If you strapped 5-pound weights to my legs, and also strapped 5-pound weights to Usain Bolt’s legs, and then set us in a race against each other, our being equally hampered doesn’t mean we would perform equally poorly. He’d still smoke me.

    Your #2 rests on the flawed assumption that the economic pie can’t grow. If every state enacted pro-business policies, Texas might not be quite as well off comparatively…but everyone might well be better off in the long run.

    As to #3 — granted, Texas is the beneficiary of some happy circumstances. You know, though, there are some other states who have the same advantage of a lot of land and an abundance of natural resources. Yet for some reason, California doesn’t seem to be doing quite as well as Texas. I’m sure that has nothing to do with governance, though…

    You provide no support for your amusing contention in #4. So I’ll let that rest.

    #5 and #6 may well be true…but so what? So Texas is reacting to a situation out of their control by taking advantage of their natural resources that would be an advantage in that situation, and as a result their economy is being given a shot in the arm. I’d call that a sign of good governance myself. You come to bury Perry, and yet here you are praising him. Meanwhile, the federal government is making it very difficult to build up that same industry…I’ll let you figure out the implications on your own…

    As to #7, you of course have no citations to support your figures. But the concept seems correct. But again, what’s your point? Texas is creating jobs. Other places aren’t. So Texas gets the benefit of people voting with their feet, and their dollars, which tends to sustain and improve the existing climate. If other states wanted to keep their workers, they might consider following Texas’s lead. Consider how much trouble it is to move…especially when you’re not sure of a job on the other end. Why would people be moving from all over the country if they saw no advantage to it? Their moving may help fuel the Texas economy, but it’s also a testimonial to the opportunities that were already here. As snowballs roll down a mountainside, they tend to pick up both momentum and snow — the latter of which accelerates their momentum, yes. But just saying “Oh, that thing wouldn’t be moving NEARLY as fast if it hadn’t picked up all that extra snow!” is to miss the point by a Texas mile.

    But this may be my favorite comment of yours:

    “Much of what is happening in the Texas numbers compared with other states is really no different from what happens when one city lures a business to relocate from another city in the same state with whatever incentives they want to provide. The end result for the state is lower tax revenues but no new jobs, even though one city comes out ahead of the others when comparing the numbers.”

    Left out of your scenario is the possibility that the company could use the advantages gained from incentives to further invest in their new community, This might well have the effect of creating more jobs and more prosperity in the medium-term than would have been the case had the business not switched cities. Again, the economy is not a zero-sum game when we look past the short term.

    Ah, Keynesians. The multiplier effect only applies when you want it to, I guess.

  8. Jeannette says:

    “Segue”, not “Segway”.

  9. Kev says:

    Nice correlative argument, but you show absolutely no causation. What did Perry do specifically to cause this? Show me the impact in your numbers at a certain point in time in which legislation that HE ENACTED or had pass and the change in those numbers pre and post and I’ll start to believe. What you’ve shown me could be caused by a number of different things. People could be flocking to Texas for the weather for crying out loud.

  10. tommy says:

    You, sir,(to use a technical term) are a fucking genius.

    p.s. I’m from Texas. If you want to know why our economy is bumping without the numbers, shoot me an email. I am a headhunter and have recruited 7 of those new Texas employees from Louisiana, Illinois, Indiana, Virginia, and Ohio this year. Yee Haw!

  11. Herp N. Derpington says:

    And what of the notion that the private sector jobs being created are actually just jobs relocated from other parts of the country (i.e. a company moving HQ or an office from, say OH to TX)? How does this factor in to the growth numbers? I ask because it seems that that couldn’t really be called growth, perhaps reallocation. Sure it looks good for Texas but calling that job creation seems a bit disingenuous.

  12. Linda B says:

    I left a comment, charts and source but you failed to post. Why?

  13. Randy M says:

    Herp–that’s an interesting point, but it wouldn’t invalidate the comparrison for the purposes of asking “What kind of policy environment do businesses think that they will thrive in?”

    Kev–Doesn’t look like you read the post. The author doesn’t care about Perry–only pointing out that anyone saying Texas is not doing exceptionally well is wrong.

  14. richard holmes says:

    Any politician can-and does say many things that may shine a positive light on them. What is the differencs in what he says and does that is much different than the next blow hard? It all depends on how you want to look at it and what you ascertain from the analysis of the material.

  15. Dave says:


    The author mentions that this presentation was about dispelling myths and talking points about how the Texas economy isn’t as rosey as Perry is claiming. It has nothing to do with attributing the economic successes to Perry.


    Relocation of jobs is a sign of growth because it means more jobs are in Texas, regardless of where they came from. It is job creation because when dealing with the micro (Texas) versus the macro (the US as a whole) there are jobs being created in a state while others are losing those same jobs. The reason you can credit Texas for this is because there must be a REASON why these jobs are moving to Texas? Availabilty of labor, cost of living, cost of doing business, friendlier regulatory and tax climate for businesses?

    Some of these issues may be due to policies enacted by the Texas legislature, some of them may be circumstantial, or perhaps some are simply providence.

  16. Allen says:

    What about the pure number od companies is Texas? Is it not true that it has more fortune 500 companies than the rest of the US? Also Texas is more affordable to live then other states. Again I don’t think any of it has to do with Perry it would be interesting to see policies Perry put in place and then direct data from policies.

  17. Brad says:

    I would like to know the ethnicity of these “Texas Transplants”. Many states have reported an exodus of Latinos due to the lack of jobs in their states and recent legislation to discourage or even deport illegals. What percentage of these 739,000 are actually illegals on their way back across the border or moving in with family located in Texas. After all, Mexico now enjoys an unemployment rate of only 4.9% and a standard of living including health, education and per capita income –that is now higher than those in Russia, China and India, according to the United Nations.

  18. Paula Lares says:

    I’m not a fan of Rick Perry. It’s almost suffocating to think he will be my choice vs Obama. I’m sick of holding my nose to vote for the Lesser of Two Evils. So, having dispensed with my bona fides, I’d like to point out that Rick Perry has not obstructed Texas’ job creating environment any more than the legislation has allowed him. We have far too many RINOs in our state government but enough true fiscal conservatives that we’ve kept progressivism at bay. Governments do NOT create jobs, neither do their Executives. Obama has blocked the USA’s job creating environment. It goes back before Obama, though. The Free Market system that brought about the innovation and creativity of America has been eroded since Progressivism began making inroads with Harding. Perry has overseen a state that has resisted this form of government more than most other states. That’s his claim to fame.

    Thanks for putting my state’s data into perspective. I don’t have a problem with folks coming down here for jobs. I would like to remind them though, that not only are they leaving their state to come to OURS, but they need to leave their bad voting decisions back there, too. Texas is a state of mind, after all.

  19. I’ve spent the morning reading articles and blogs and comments about how Rick Perry has and has not affected jobs in Texas. This is the best one so far.

    Bill Clinton didn’t create the jobs boom of the 1990s. Al Gore did when he invented the Internet.

    George W. Bush didn’t create the housing bubble of the 2000s. Barney Frank, Bill Clinton, Phil Graham, Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke did when they pushed no money down, no documentation liar loans on mortgage bankers and even on consumers.

    But Obama certainly has killed jobs with his scary anti-business talk and regulations that have sent consumers into fetal positions and employers to the bank to count the coins on their balance sheets.

    What’s ironic is that Big Intrusive Government Republicans and Democrats —Perry, Romney, Bachmann and Obama — are claiming they can create jobs while they seem to be unwilling to create the economic environment we need to stimulate consumer spending and private sector growth.

  20. James R. Schaefer says:

    A good read — thanks
    Next time you might want to use numbers instead of colors on your curves.

  21. kc says:

    Moved to fl from ca 2 years ago, drove thru Tx 3 times. Each time I commented about all the building and road work going on. The highways were planted and cut, shopping malls were being built, road workers were out. No other state did we see this in. The restaurants were busy and people were energetic. I told my hubby there is a lot going on in Tx they are not broke here. This is where our son in law should look for work. Not a scientific poll but just noticed the difference.

  22. […] not be impressed, but the Texas economy has boomed while the rest of the country has stalled, as this analysis shows. But can Perry take credit for it? Not necessarily. Megan McArdle is skeptical. Jason Sorens […]

  23. Suzanne says:

    I was a senior manager in a Dallas-based company from ’97 to ’10 and can offer the following insights to your numbers:
    – Texas has a huge base of well-paying federal jobs stretching from El Paso to Ft. Hood and Houston. You can look for the exact number, but Texas receives over $1.25 in fed funds for every dollar of fed tax it pays. And Texas metroplexes are awash in companies sucking on the teats of DoD, DHS, FAA, you name it. Texas is the last state that wants “small government,” but I don’t think they have figured that out yet.
    – Because of great corporate tax rates and municipal incentives, corporate decision-makers often find the decision to relocate to Texas a no-brainer. Add that there is practically no union force, a bountiful supply of well-qualified workers–mostly from outside of Texas’ education system, which sucks–and low real estate costs, and viola, you have the Texas jobs dream macine.
    – Texas is leading the nation in “Chinafying” their economy. It’s all just about the economy. While wages are good, there were fewer and fewer companies offering (good) healthcare, retirement or educational benefits. I would also love to know how many out-of-work Texas residents are no longer shown on the rolls. Unemployment benies in Texas are minimal. Texas universities are fabulously funded and they are bringing up generations of idiot savants in all fields of financial and technical economic endeavor. But few workers know squat about anything beyond their field of expertise and, of course, football/golf/baseball/basketball. This makes them easy to lead, by the way.
    – The state has terrible air and water standards, it defines the terms noise and light pollution, and the place is being plastered with ever more 10-lane highways. It has high cancer rates compared to the nation as a whole. Its lack of care for the environment is culturally engrained–Texans really don’t give a damn about the environment. Personally, it was clear to me that the south and southwest will not be able to sustain the population that is there now for long. I get visions of the US version of Somalia in a couple decades at the latest. But they are having a hell of a ride for now.

  24. vgn says:

    Great analysis. I’m an engineer in Texas. How about some visualization of the cost of living differences amongst states (taxes included)? My suburban 3500 sq ft house is appraised at $300K and my 30 acre farm with small house is $150K. Having lived in other states, I know my money goes much further here. Even my born and raised Colorado husband won’t consider leaving Texas anymore (and Coloradoans do not like Texans!)

  25. Joe Estep says:

    Thank you. I started to try what you have done, not enough time nor patience, I love it when there are links to back up statements.

  26. I agree with what Kev said. If you go to the link you provided and get the same chart you provided, but increase the date range to maximum, you will see that Texas has been on the same employment trajectory since 1976. Neither Bush, Perry, nor Anne Richards (rest her gracious soul) nor any other legislator in Texas has done anything to increase nor decrease this trajectory. I’m not exactly sure what’s responsible for this, but I will say that a great many packaged goods corporations are based in Texas, as well as the oil industry. Both of these industries have seen record profits in the past 40 years or so. Those profits had little to do with domestic policy and more to do with global expansion.
    But I do appreciate the work you’ve put into this. It has given me food for thought.

  27. […] PoliticalMath: Rick Perry and Texas Job Numbers […]

  28. Richard Giles says:

    Sir: you are a gentleman and a scholar. This is a great presentation even though it did take me a few readings of it to make sure that I understand it.

    Thank you.

  29. Dave P says:

    Finally, an analysis based on facts, not spin. Personally, I don’t care what party, what governor or President is in our out, just give me the results straight up. Wish others would do the same.

  30. […] Rick Perry And Texas Job Numbers | Political Math […]

  31. Diane says:

    This looks very well done. The only question I have is whether enough credit is given to the impact of the energy industries. Alberta may not be a very good comparison because, although it’s a Texas wannabe, it’s much smaller and probably has a less diverse economy. However, the oil industry there generates so much wealth that it affects the whole economy, benefits every business, and the government too. This is because it creates extremely high paying jobs and numerous wealthy people who, in turn, spend their money on all manner of goods and services. And, the government can afford to provide services with a lower tax rate because it also reaps the benefit of the wealth generated by the oil industry. Alberta is doing fine in spite of the crisis, and, remarkably, all of Canada is doing quite well also. Growth is traditionally slower in Canada than in the US and unemployment is normally higher. Not so right now.

  32. Justin Taillon says:

    Yes, job creation is happening in Texas. But “Job Creation” means very little as a statistic. In what you posted above I get the impression you are providing “Job Creation” as evidence of a positive outlook for Texas, although you make it clear you are not endorsing Perry. The above are only half-statistics. There is no full picture provided. “Job Creation” certainly should not be used as a stand-alone indicator of the economic wellness of a region. Personally, I have three favorite indicators of economic well-being (I am an Economics professor, so I’m not clueless here): Gini Coefficient, percent living below the poverty level for a given area, & Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness.

    1. Gini Coefficient – Texas is 48th of 50 states for Gini and if it were stil a country it would be most like Ivory Coast in regards to Gini. Here are two links to prove my point: http://texaspolitics.laits.utexas.edu/12_3_0.html and https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2172.html

    2. Poverty Level – I did consulting work for WIA (Workforce Investment Act) for urban areas in the state of Texas, and the poverty in our state is embarrassing. 18% of the state is living under the poverty level and 40% has lived under the poverty level within the past 10 years. No first world country should pass 3-5%, let alone 18%! Here’s a link: http://www.star-telegram.com/2010/09/16/2474711/more-texans-living-in-poverty.html

    3. I am a HUGE fan of Gross National Happiness (yes, this is a real term and is professional /academic). Isn’t happiness what we should concern ourselves with? There are some miserable rich people dammit. I have never found statistics specifically for the state of Texas. It is a huge undertaking, so I haven’t completed my study yet. But, I do know enough about Texas and GNH to know we’re not well. Here are two links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gross_national_happiness and http://www.gnhusa.org/

  33. bw says:

    You haven’t presented any facts here. You’ve presented graphs without clearly identifying your data sources. The pages you link to are not data sets — they are pages containing tons of different data sets. Who knows what you are using.

    Here’s a report from the BLS.


    It says that the median hourly wage in Texas is substantially below the national average. It says that the % of workers making minimum wage or below has substantially increased post-recession.

    I’ll trust the BLS over some internet blogger, thank you.

  34. Steve H says:

    Thank you for an excellent blog. My son recommended this link and you have answered many potential questions that the main stream media hasn’t even thought of.

    My guess is that Texas, as mentioned above is something of a state of mind. The voters having that state of mind have constantly elected a different sort of legislator and executive branch ( who have no doubt appointed a different sort of Judiciary) over an extended period. I suspect that is the genesis of the “Perry Miracle”. I hope that Perry is more Texas than Bush was, when he got into office his Conn. roots were showing.

    I can’t believe that Perry is the best we will have on offer this cycle, but so far he seems to be.

  35. bdbd says:

    I’m not sure how “oil and gas and related industries” was defined, but if you take the Natural Gas folks seriously, a job in that industry is (broadly) associated with about 3 additional jobs in the economy. So “25% of new jobs in Oil and Gas” is not inconsistent with most new jobs being associated with oil and gas, broadly speaking. (I realize economic impact studies should be taken with a lot of salt). http://www.anga.us/media/40995/us%20economy.pdf

  36. John says:

    I live in Texas and I agree that Texas’ economy when judged by jobs alone is in relatively good shape. I would also say, at a minimum, that Rick Perry hasn’t screwed things up on the economic front (the same thing I would say about Bill Clinton during his oversight of a booming economy). However, the state of an economy must be judged by more than merely the number of jobs created.

    A good report to look at in this regard is the following: http://shapleigh.org/news/882-senator-shapleigh-releases-texas-on-the-brink-how-texas-ranks-among-the-50-states

    This report (albeit from 2007 still holds true) notes such statistics as Texas being second in the nation in terms of income inequality and first in the nation in the number of uninsured children. Several other statistics that in many respects are a function of a low tax, low regulation state are listed in the report.

    You might also note that Texas is failing in almost every regard to pay for its growth. The mere fact that Texas borrowed $5 billion dollars from general revenue in the last two years to pay for transportation infrastructure is a sign of this. Transportation is normally covered from transportation generated fees (e.g. gas tax, vehicle registrations, etc.), yet Texas has taken to not only borrowing, but also borrowing from General Revenue. In fact, the Texas DOT is now paying more in debt service than it is spending on building new infrastructure (the result of past debt issuances from the state’s transportation fund – i.e. gas taxes and registration fees). This is all kicking the can down the road in a way that has the state living on borrowed time. And transportation is only one example of this.

    The point is that Texas is doing a number of things in the name of low tax, low regulation that produce very negative side-effects and furthermore that are non-sustainable. In that same vein, one might also consider that Texas had a $27 billion budget shortfall this biennium (this number is the one that would have maintained services at their current level when accounting for the population growth since the last biennium). And this was not the effect of the negative economy, it was most largely the effect of a cut in property tax rates Perry championed in 2007.

    By lowering taxes (not even maintaining the current low tax regime) in the face of growing population we are watching even the most vital state services slip from bad to worse. Today’s Austin American Statesman talks about how classes at elementary schools are growing to 28 to 30 students per class with fewer teachers (http://www.statesman.com/news/local/students-educators-face-changes-as-first-bell-rings-1771066.html). Does this sound like a state adequately preparing for its future?

    I would offer that you should look beyond the mere job figures and more to statistics that measure the sustainability of the Texas economy and the quality of life of residents beyond those at the very top.

  37. […] the truth behind Perry’s claims about Texas and job creation? A handy blog, Political Math, takes a look at the data. I suggest you check it out. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to […]

  38. Marlon says:

    Even if you take the energy sector out of the equation, you still have to account for all the ancillary jobs created by that boom. The energy workers don’t live in a vacuum…they go out and eat, shop and entertain themselves.

  39. GeorgeC says:


    Quoting Shapleigh and Watson is just parroting a couple of left wing hacks, who don’t get the Texas state of mind. I came here from the nasty northeast (NJ) 25 years ago, and never looked back. I need no metric to know that this state, even here in Austin with the mother load of left wing idiots is better than where I came from. Paid less, you bet. Took a huge pay cut, and still make less than those doing the same “up there”. But quality of life here is so much better for me. Medical is exceptional, land is plantiful, and while still pricing in more than I think it is all worth, a better deal than “up north”, where I assume you believe things to be so much better.
    The air here is cleaner than that air you can see in NJ, and I am convinced the left-influenced enviro-whackos look for anything to criticise Texas air and water quality. But that’s laughable too. The waterways in NJ, and its air REALLY are a mess. Not here. Its clean. Why? I have seen that REAL Texans appreciate the place they live in and don’t pollute.
    Remember, Texas is a state of mind.

    And watching the most vital state services slip. Yeah, and those vital services are pave the roads and keep the bad guys locked up. Beyond that, we can start the state ex-worked unemployment line ASAP. (you libs really amuse me)

    As for education, all you pointy headed acedemics can quote numbers all day. The kids here do as well or better than in any other state. Oh, yeah, heaven forbid…30 kids in a class. Please, spare me that line of BS. In grades 1-8 I had 50-55 kids in my classes, and the nuns handled them with no problems and no teachers assistants. If there is any reason why kids are not doing as well its because we’re progress-ed them into ignorance, and the teachers want to be treated like line workers at the Ford plant. They’re taught politicall correctness (everybody wins!) over the “three R’s”. We pay teachers here less as well. See my point above regarding my own income. They’re paid less because its less expensive to live here.
    Got that all you pinko libs? Its just a better place to be. I know you’re all out there distorting the facts to discredit Perry. Well…good luck. You can’t hide from truth, though I know the libs try their darndest to do so every signle day. I’d rather see Ron Paul, but if Perry gives the left Heartburn, it makes it more fun to watch.
    I feel better now. Y’all come down here. And “Don’t Mess With Texas”

  40. JCalton says:

    Great, so now all we need to do is elect Rick Perry president and have every citizen in America move to Texas. All our problems will be solved.

    Aside from the fact that Texas is an outlier (a polite way of saying a statistical aberration)…whatever happened in Texas would be mathematically impossible to reproduce across another 49 states, as everybody can’t move everywhere at once.

    Well, I suppose we could reproduce it by allowing an influx of immigrants to all 49 states (plus D.C. I guess), but somehow I’m guessing the type of people that would vote for Perry wouldn’t like that very much.

  41. […] Second, a closer look at the data shows that Texas has not added minimum wage jobs at a faster rate than other states. In fact, wages in Texas have grown the 6th fastest in the nation. […]

  42. Delaustin says:

    Can you clarify: for your “Personal Favorite Chart,” where are you getting the number of people leaving Wisconsin and “fleeing” to Texas?

    Those sound much higher than net migration numbers available elsewhere (especially considering that these http://www.census.gov/hhes/migration/ are TOTAL people moving, not working-age–which is what would affect the unemployment rate if job growth isn’t exceeding working-age population growth. Or are you including domestic and foreign migration, all ages, such as from here? http://www.census.gov/popest/states/NST-comp-chg.html ).

    And related to this, what is the denominator for the vertical axis? Is it the labor force for each state as of December 07?

    I’m trying to replicate the numbers using BLS private-sector job growth only (Texas peaked on this in Aug 08, having entered the recession later, and has not yet recovered to that level).

  43. Dave says:

    One basic argument against your whole presentation is the notion that Texas’s employment growth rate has been “huge” simply because it’s twice it’s nearest competitor. Look at the actual number and you’ll notice it’s slightly over 1%. A 1% growth in employment– simply because it’s twice the nearest competitor– is not “huge.”

  44. […] Second, a closer look at the data shows that Texas has not added minimum wage jobs at a faster rate than other states. In fact, wages in Texas have grown the 6th fastest in the nation. […]

  45. William Laudermilk says:

    Texas is much more affluent than California or New York.

    The Cost-of-Living-Adjusted Median Household Incomes are:

    Texas 54,836

    california 46,418

    new york 43,769

    Associatedcontent.com under Richest and Poorest states has every state calculated and ranked.

    I’m repeating an earlier comment because I’m amazed at how many people, particularly Liberals, don’t understand an elementary and essential fact about wealth.
    Nominal(unadjusted) income is not wealth.
    Purchasing power is wealth.

    A person who makes 50,000 a year in 2011 has more income than a person who made 25,000 in 1970, but he has far less purchasing power.
    whenever you compare incomes seperated by time or geography you must adjust for cost-of-living differences.

    Texas is not simply a high job growth state, it is a better wealth producing state than the two giant iconic Liberal states.
    Lawyers, unions, and environmentalists don’t recieve the favorable treatment at the expense of wealth creation that they do in California and New York.

  46. David Manowitz says:

    I find it odd that you call your last chart your “personal favorite” where it seems to be nearly an inverse of the 3rd chart (As a percentage of the number of pre-recession jobs, here is a chart of the growth of a selection of states). This makes sense as the earlier chart is the job growth situation vs pre-“recession” jobs, whereas the last is unemployment vs pre-“recession” population. Thus, I think it is dishonest to present this last chart as “new” data, when it is mostly a reinterpretation of an earlier one.

    However, with the earlier chart, you cautioned that the job growth rate is somewhat low due to the phenomenal growth in Texas’s population, but you don’t have a similar caveat with the last chart. Though, if your earlier speculation that many people are flocking to Texas *looking* for jobs, it *does* matter that the unemployment rate remains in the middle of the pack. While some of these people may end up creating new jobs on their own, if your speculation is correct, we’d expect to see the unemployment rate in Texas remain at or higher than where it currently is for the near future.