The New “Texas Miracle”? GOP pushing questionable Perry job-creation meme (UPDATED)
(Authors Note: I need to recompute these numbers using data going back to January of 2009 and not just April of 2010, so please do not reference my estimates for 2009 until I’ve done so in a later post. Also, please check the bottom of this post for UPDATES. In the meantime, here are some quick figures:
Perry’s “Miracle” numbers rely on a few factors:
o More people (17.6% vs 16.9%) work for the government in Texas than at the Federal level.
o Texas added 25% more government jobs in the month of May than the prior 12 months combined.
o When you eliminate “migrant farm workers” and kids working Summer jobs (ie: short term employment) jobs from Perry’s “miracle”, his percentage plummets to under 20%.
o When you break that percentage down, close to 40% of the jobs added in the past two years have been minimum wage with no benefits.
o Texas leads the nation in the number of uninsured workers.
Thank you. – Mugsy.)
In 2000, “The Texas Miracle” was what the GOP called Governor George W. Bush’s (false) record on education, claiming that increased testing led to higher test scores and lower dropout rates. In 2011, the GOP has pulled the phrase out of mothballs, applying it this time to Gov. Rick Perry’s “job creation record”, priming the pump for a possible Presidential run, only this time, “the miracle” isn’t “education”, it’s a claim that “37% of all new jobs created in the U.S. over the past two years were created in Texas.” Fox ”news” Sunday repeated the claim on their show yesterday:
Definitely a statistic worthy of further investigation.
Now, I know it may seem like a waste of time to scrutinize the record of someone that hasn’t even announced “an exploratory committee” yet, let alone declared he’s running for president. And the chances of this country electing ANOTHER Texas governor just four short years after Hurricane Dubya left the country in the worst Recession since The Great Depression… and not just ANY governor but Bush’s own Lieutenant Governor for six years… are probably about nil. No one ever lost a job over-estimating the stupidity of the American voter. But these false narratives have a way of taking on a life of their own (there’s even a word for it: “meme”) to the point where people simply switch off their brains and start repeating a claim as “fact” (eg: “tax cuts create jobs” and “we need to cut spending to get us out of this Recession.”) So let’s squash this meme like a bug before it has a chance to multiply.
The Claim: “37% of all jobs created in the U.S. in the past two years were created in Texas.”
First off, the actual claim was that “Texas produced 37% of all NET new jobs in the U.S. in the last two years”, not “all” jobs. That’s an important distinction, because the Federal government includes job loses in all 50 states (including Texas), where as Texas only has to account for itself. More jobs might actually be created on the National level, but a sudden economic downturn in a particular industry might hurt some states, while leaving Texas greatly unaffected… such as the BP oil spill.
Thank you once again Bureau of Labor Statistics (pdf). Being a resident of Texas myself, Having just paid $55 to fill up my gas tank, I had a hunch that a good number of those Texas jobs would be in the oil industry (click to enlarge):
Texas non-farm employment, 2009-2011
Though the BLS chart I found does not go back before November of 2009, it does show that from “April 2010 to April 2011″, Texas grossed “254.4 thousand” of the “1.274 Million” jobs created in the U.S. in that one 12-month period. Simple math: 254.4/1274 = 19.9%. A far cry from “37%”. So unless Texas had an extraordinarily good 2009, that “37%” figure is just flat wrong. As a Texan, I can assure you we did not have an extraordinarily good 2009.
So, where did those jobs come from? Looking at the data, not only are nearly 20% of those jobs in the overly-general “Trade, Transport & Utilities” category (read: oil), but another 18% (“17.6%”) were GOVERNMENT jobs. Yes, you got it. Perry and the GOP are (once again) shown to be big fricken’ hypocrites. Perry’s “Texas Miracle” was due in large part to EXPANDING THE SIZE OF GOVERNMENT by creating tens of thousands of government jobs. I’m sure all those “small-government” Conservatives would be just thrilled to learn THAT little statistic! Using the government to create jobs to reduce unemployment constitutes a “Miracle” when Republicans do it. Who knew?
When Clinton’s former Labor Secretary Robert Reich on ABC’s “ThisWeek” yesterday proposed a new “WPA” to Republican Senator Richard Shelby (AL), the idea was pooh-poohed out-of-hand as impractical and ineffectual (sadly, when Shelby repeated the Republican myth that “WWII ended the Depression”, Reich conceded the claim as being true. It’s not.)
I took a look at the lauded Wall Street Journal article Fox cited. First off, it’s a one-page Editorial, not a researched report (What you are reading now from me is also an Op/Ed, yet I do FAR more fact checking than this WSJ editorial did… which is NONE), based upon a “factoid” proffered by the visiting head of the Dallas Federal Reserve to his buddy (the unnamed author) at the WSJ. Anybody at the WSJ ever hear of a “conflict of interest”? You think MAYBE the head of the Texas Fed might have some incentive to fudge the truth a bit in order cast the Texas economy in the most positive light? You think MAYBE this douchenozzle at the WSJ might have a bias of his own that prevents him from doing even the most cursory of fact checking before writing his Editorial? (Hey, I have a bias. I admit it up front. But I back up every claim with research and links.)
The (unknown) author lavishes Texas with economic praise, citing its “business friendly” economic policies and extensive deregulation for “attracting businesses”, even calling Texas… a state that is $27 BILLION in the Red… “fiscally responsible”. (I’d hate to see what a fiscally “irresponsible” state looks like to this guy!)
So where does a state that’s drowning in red ink get the money to add 22.3 thousand new state jobs (see chart)? I suspect the $19.7 BILLION dollars in Stimulus funds Texas accepted from the Federal government had something to do with it. The true “Texas Miracle” would be where President Perry would get the money to do the same thing on the national level. He’d have no choice but to borrow it from the Chinese. “Borrowing hundreds of billions from the Chinese to pay for more government jobs”… I wonder how Republican voters would feel about that? I’m sure the Teanuts would be just delighted.
That is… until he needs a Miracle.
(ADDITIONAL READING: ThinkProgress finds that Texas leads the nation in the percentage of people working for minimum wage. That means “no benefits”, which might also help explain why Texas also leads the nation in the percentage of people without health insurance [26.9%].)
(ADDENDUM: The rest of the media seems to be catching up to this story that I reported on nearly a week earlier. The Rachel Maddow Show covered this story on Friday, leading to several more prominent bloggers following suit. Note, NONE of these other stories seem to challenge the “37%” figure, nor note the number of “Government jobs” in Perry’s “miracle”. But with deeper pockets and a full-time research staff, TRMS does go into more detail on the actual numbers of Texas vs the rest of the country. Just remember where you heard it first folks!)
(ADDENDUM 6/20: ABC World News Tonight upped the number still further Monday night to a whopping 48 percent!:
Notice their source: THE EXACT SAME SOURCE the WSJ Op/Ed cited as claiming “37%” just the week before… now giving an entirely different, dramatically larger number, with ABC citing no secondary corroborating source. Clearly, the “miracle” is the way the number continues to grow from week-to-week.)
(UPDATE: 8/14: Now that Perry has officially announced his candidacy for President, the rest of the Media has *finally* started investigating Perry’s job-creation record. Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman: “The Texas Unmiracle”.)
(ADDENDUM 8/17: The Center for American Progress’ Economic Research Team made a stunning observation: If you account for population growth, which has exploded over the past two years in Texas [437,000 new people], the paltry 126,000 new jobs added places Texas DEAD LAST in the U.S. in job creation relative to population growth.)
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