‘Need a Job? Move to Texas’

by Kevin D. Williamson

On the front page of USA Today is a headline reading: “Need a Job? Move to Texas.” Somewhere, Rick Perry is smiling. Here’s the official newspaper of the American hotel room catching up to National Review:

Texas’ big gains are partly a reflection of its population growth. But the recent job gains are outpacing the rate of population growth in Texas, the nation’s second-largest state, with 25 million residents — about 8% of the U.S. population.

The state’s payrolls have risen 2.9% since the end of the recession, third behind North Dakota and Alaska and far outpacing the USA’s 0.4% growth, according to the BLS. Also, Texas’ 8.2% unemployment rate is well below the nation’s 9.2%.

“For one large state to grow (jobs) so much faster than the rest of the nation is very unusual,” says Moody’s economist Ed Friedman.

Economists point to an array of factors, including high energy prices that set off an oil-drilling frenzy, rising exports and a conservative banking industry that helped the state sidestep the housing crash.

Yet while energy has been a spark — employment in natural gas, oil and other mining sectors rose by 45,000, or 23%, since the recession ended — growth has been broad-based. During the past two years, professional and business services added 74,000 jobs; education and health care gained 91,000; and leisure and hospitality grew by 29,000, according to BLS.

State officials cite a pro-business climate that Perry helped foster that’s drawing scores of businesses from high-cost states — a trend that took on urgency for firms that got lean in the economic downturn.

The 10-year Texas governor is “really focused on creating an environment where people can risk their capital and get a return on investment, and that, in turn, creates jobs for Texans,” says Lucy Nashed, spokeswoman for the state’s economic development office.

No subprime meltdown, strong job growth, a balanced budget, and state spending that’s been held to about 1 percent growth. How’s that sound, Connecticut?