From the halls of New England to the fields of Iowa, GOP primary voters are hearing a lot about Governor Rick Perry’s record on jobs in Texas in his bid to win the Republican nomination. Statistic do show that Texas has added a good deal of jobs since the recession but, as the saying goes, “not all that glitters is gold.” While a high number of total jobs might sound impressive on it’s own, it’s difficult to gauge it’s meaning without some context like other economic indicators.
For starters, there is Texas’ unemployment rate. While it’s below the national average, it’s still quite high at 8.2%. Additionally, Texas leads the nation (with Mississippi) in number of minimum-wage jobs, which might explain another Texas economic statistic below the national average – per capita GDP. The U.S. per capita GDP as a whole grew at an average rate of 0.6 percent, while it grew at a 0.5 percent rate in Texas from 2000-2012. Before Perry, Texas’ average per capita GDP grew faster than the national average.
A better indicator than a total number of jobs is the job growth rate, and the truth is jobs in Texas grew at the same rate under Perry that they did for Democrat Ann Richards. In fact, jobs grew at a faster rate under Bush, even when factoring out the recession. An even more revealing jobs growth rate: Texas’ public sector workforce grew by 19% since 2000 while private sector jobs grew at only 9%. Truth is, only Alaska and North Dakota have more jobs now than they did two years ago.
There’s also the little matter of Governor Perry using $200 million in tax payer money to start business for his political contributors through the Emerging Technology Fund. This includes a $1.5 million start-up grant to a firm who would declare bankruptcy in 3 years.
So Rick Perry’s job record shows he’s created more low paying jobs, more government jobs and more jobs for the politically connected. Oh, yeah – and Texas jobs did better under George W. Bush. The GOP can do better.