Feature

Texas Miracle: Fact or fiction?

The Lone Star State has created 37 percent of the nation’s new jobs since 2009. How much credit does Rick Perry deserve?

Is Rick Perry a miracle worker? asked Amy Bingham in ABCNews.com. The Republican presidential hopeful is largely running on the basis of the “Texas miracle”—the state’s impressive economic performance during his decade as governor. Perry has some cause to brag: The Lone Star State has created 37 percent of the nation’s new jobs since 2009. Perry says this success is a result of the business-friendly policies he’d bring to the White House—minimal regulation, small government, and low taxes. But dig deeper, and you’ll discover that the “Texas miracle is a myth,” said Paul Krugman in The New York Times. Soaring gas prices have caused a hiring boom in the state’s oil industry; meanwhile, Texas’s warm weather, cheap housing, and low wages have lured residents and jobs from other states and from Mexico. But the underside of the miracle is that 10 percent of Texans earn the minimum wage or less, 17 percent live in poverty, and 26 percent have no health insurance. Is that really the kind of business-driven “miracle” we want to see rolled out across America?

“Apparently new jobs aren’t valuable jobs if they’re created in a state that rejects Obamanomics,” said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. Liberals can’t accept that workers and employers alike are relocating to Texas “because of its low costs of living and doing business.” Perry limited regulation and carried out sweeping tort reform, “all of which is a magnet for private investment and hiring.” He’s also done more than create positions for “low-skilled campesinos,” said Joel Kotkin in Forbes.com. Over the past decade, the number of science, technology, and engineering jobs in Texas has surged by 11 percent, “four times the national average.” So “rather than demean the Lone Star State,” progressives in other states should copy its low-tax, low-regulation policies.

It’s just not that simple, said Michael Fletcher in The Washington Post. One awkward fact Perry never mentions is that the number of government jobs in Texas has grown twice as fast as the number of private-sector jobs—partly to provide services to its booming population. Today, one in six Texas workers is a government employee. If other states want their own miracle, said Annie Lowrey in Slate.com, all they need to do is start a massive oil industry, import warm weather, and create lots of cheap housing. That is Texas’s miracle, and it “does not have much to do with Rick Perry.”

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