We’re going to be hearing and reading a lot about job growth in Texas under Governor Rick Perry now that he has entered the race for the Republican nomination.
The numbers are tricky — and they are not nearly as positive as Perry’s campaign suggests.
The June data for employment in Texas here. Data is presented in two ways — seasonally adjusted and not seasonally adjusted. That’s appropriate since June is typically a worse month for employment than May. There are adequate points of comparison both for the SA and NSA data regarding the previous month and the same month in the previous year.
Regarding the SA jobs data in Texas for June, the headline number is an increase of 32,000 jobs from May to June. Note that 12,300 of those jobs are government jobs. And 10,600 of those jobs are in leisure and hospitality. The SA numbers comparing June 2010 to June 2011 look a little better than that in terms of types of jobs, with 220,000 jobs added.
But the NSA data is considerably more problematic. Between June 2010 and June 2011, the Texas labor force increased by 138,000 people, while the number of employed persons increased only by 80,000. That means the number of unemployed persons increased by 58,000 in that same time period. Texas’s NSA unemployment rate was 8.4% in June 2010 and 8.8% in June 2011. El Paso’s rate jumped year-over-year from 9.6% to 10.9%, San Antonio’s from 7.5% to 8.1%. Most other metro areas saw less deterioration, but of the 25 metropolitan statistical areas in the state, only Midland and Odessa saw year-over-year declines in the unemployment rate, and only Midland, Odessa, and Wichita Falls saw declines in the gross number of unemployed persons.
Two other pieces on this issue that are worth reading: The Texas Unmiracle by Paul Krugman in the NYT and Felix Salmon’s post in his Reuters blog: Perry’s employment record in Texas.
Itâ€™s true that Texas entered recession a bit later than the rest of America, mainly because the stateâ€™s still energy-heavy economy was buoyed by high oil prices through the first half of 2008. Also, Texas was spared the worst of the housing crisis, partly because it turns out to have surprisingly strict regulation of mortgage lending.
Despite all that, however, from mid-2008 onward unemployment soared in Texas, just as it did almost everywhere else.
In June 2011, the Texas unemployment rate was 8.2 percent. That was less than unemployment in collapsed-bubble states like California and Florida, but it was slightly higher than the unemployment rate in New York, and significantly higher than the rate in Massachusetts.
Krugman also notes that Texas’s traditionally fast population growth spurs — and to some degree requires — fast job growth.
Salmon includes an interesting graph that shows that the percentage of the Texas population that is working has been declining faster than the national average:
None of these measures are pure in the sense that they give a definitive picture of employment in Texas, but they hardly present the rosy image that’s out there.
Believe it or not, I actually looked at some of the employment data from Texas a couple of months ago. I had just talked to someone who had moved to Savannah from Dallas who complained about the weak job prospects for him in Texas. I was surprised by his characterization of the employment landscape.
With its robust population growth, Texas seems likely to continue to add a significant number of jobs, but if current trends continue, Texas will find itself coming closer and closer to the U.S. average for the unemployment rate.
And here, from Calculated Risk, is how Texas unemployment stacks up against all the other states. Dead center of the pack.