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Massive Job Loss in Texas, Republican Party Ignores Problem

by: Matt Glazer

Tue Feb 10, 2009 at 00:47 PM CST

Rick Perry and the Republican Party of Texas would have you believe that the Texas economy has been unphased by the recent economic downturn.  

In Perry's "State of the State" address he mentioned the word "jobs" nearly two dozen times.  He pacified Texans and ignored hard data.

"Every day, we hear more stories from across the country of jobs lost, plants closed, and homes on the auction block. As shockwaves of this crisis begin to resonate in Texas, we're reminded that we're not immune to these forces, yet we're still in better shape than most other states." (Full text of speech over at Capitol Annex)

The reality of it is, in 2008, Texas lost 134,598 jobs.  After 4 months of job growth in Texas,  Texas has lost nearly a quarter million jobs (221,790). The reality of it is, in 2008, the number of unemployed Texans increased by 134,598.  After 4 months of declining unemployment, nearly a quarter million more Texans (221,790) became unemployed.

City by city, Texas had some nominal job growth in 2008 until April.  After April the job situation in Texas gets bad in a hurry.

Between April and December of last year, unemployment increased in Austin by 6,809 people, in Dallas by 12,879, in El Paso by 4,729, in Houston by 17,615 people, and San Antonio was hit and now has at least 10,262 more people out of work and looking for jobs.

All of these numbers come directly from the Texas Workfroce Commission, but nobody seems to be talking about them.

Instead Perry has proposed a bold plan of isolation.  He is attacking Washington for trying to jump start the sagging economy instead of talking about how the proposed stimulus bill could help Texas.

All across the country, states are hiking sales taxes, they're slashing education spending, preparing to pay state employees with IOUs, and begging Washington DC for a bailout.

Because we took a different approach back then, we know it's better to control spending to make government less burdensome, as a way to free up the economic power of our citizens.

What we are seeing is the economic strength Texas has created over the past decade can be completely eroded in a matter of months. While Texas created jobs for 4 months in 2008, the final 8 months were so bad that we have lost nearly a quarter million.

Rick Perry boasts about 1.2 million jobs created over a decade, but 2008 numbers project a loss of 332,685 per year.  Granted those are faulty numbers because they don't take into account current job losses, city retention programs or any changes in unemployment figures that might be created at the federal level.  What it does show is how long it takes to create jobs and a sound economy and how quick a political party can destroy the economy.

Currently the Republican Party's strategy is to stick their heads in the sand and pretend everything is just fine.  They are looking at economic data on time lines that hide basic economic truths.

The reality is, our economy is broken in Texas and jobs are disappearing.  What we need is leadership.  What we need is a solution on how to recover from this global economic downturn.  Refusing to vote (like John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison did) or refusing to address the problem is not a solution.


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Same TWC figures show employment is stable... (0.00 / 0)
It's interesting that the same TWC figures (Seasonally adjusted Employment in 2008) show that the state maintained stable employment (11.1 million) throughout 2008:

2008 Jan Texas  11,110,598
2008 Feb Texas  11,082,967
2008 Mar Texas  11,138,344
2008 Apr Texas  11,194,165
2008 May Texas  11,189,539
2008 Jun Texas  11,167,322
2008 Jul Texas  11,143,602
2008 Aug Texas  11,159,491
2008 Sep Texas  11,183,787
2008 Oct Texas  11,158,536
2008 Nov Texas  11,174,936
2008 Dec Texas  11,141,955

Not bad, considering the 3+ million jobs lost in country.  I guess the 135,000 jobs shown as being lost in your charts were new jobs anyway? And 135,000 is what, 1.2 percent of 11.1 million.  Not nice for those involved, but overall you seem to have a better chance of keeping your job in Texas versus elsewhere.

Economy is Worse (0.00 / 0)
The point is that we are losing jobs at an increasing and alarming rate.

Rather the fact that we lost 221,000+ since April of 2008 is scary.  Even more terrifying is we don't have the adjusted numbers for December 2008 or January yet.  

What this means is "our resilient economy" is still effected by the national economic climate.  

That being the case, what we need is a policy or proposal that limits the effects in Texas.  Since the jobs touted in the Governor's stat of the state address won't create a single job for 9 month to years, what do we do now?

John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison's argument is to do nothing (which includes not bothering to vote).  Rick Perry's strategy is to attack Washington and refuse federal assistance which has been a stellar plan for children who need insurance in Texas.

With recovery plans for Ike going nowhere, jobs disappearing, and small businesses feeling the pinch what is the solution?  Republicans control every statewide office and both chambers of the legislature, what do they want to do to help average Texans?  

The strategy to do nothing has cost Texas 221,000+ jobs since April. That clearly isn't working.  So what do we try now?

[ Parent ]
Jobs disappearing (0.00 / 0)
Stop saying that jobs are disappearing... yes, the unemployment rate is increasing (slower than the rest of the country) but as the numbers I posted show, jobs are not disappearing: employment is stable (in fact, it's a little higher than in Jan 08).

I noted in my comment below the bipartisan plan to help small businesses - SB193 (Shapleigh) and HB720 (Creighton) - by exempting them from the franchise tax.  That would certainly help the job situation that is terrifying, alarming, and scary.

It is a horrible thing for someone to lose their job, and yes, it would be fantastic if the government could turn on a "job tap" and create enough jobs for everyone all of the time. But, even President Obama points out that 90 percent of the jobs created by the stimulus bill will be in the private sector.  It's important that these jobs can be sustained without government support in long term, otherwise they will simply disappear when the funding runs out.

I come from a country where the government tries to run everything and it simply doesn't work.  Everytime the government helps someone, there is a cost (usually through increased taxes on families and employers or else because government takes the place of a business or charity).  The question is how much government help is the right amount?  How much of a burden can we place on families and employers to fund that help?  And can that burden be justified?  

I suspect that you and I would differ in our answers to those questions, which is fine.  To be clear, though, I'm not advocating for no help.  Far from it, I just think that the government needs to be wary of jumping in without thinking through its actions: every government action will have unintended consequences.  Seems like a wise use of state funds in times like these might be investment in workforce development since it never hurts to have a skilled workforce.  Beyond something like that I think it's unfair to demand that statewide officials take immediate action.  Texas actually is doing better than almost every other state (try moving to Michigan for example) and so will recover sooner and be in a position to take jobs that would otherwise go to other states.  I stand to be proven wrong on that, but let's look in 12 months and 24 months time to see how many jobs Texas is creating...  Meet you back here 2/11/10?

[ Parent ]
Noted in other post (0.00 / 0)
This is what I said in Phil's post:
People continue to ask for a solution.  I am not going to lie, I don't know what the solution is.  It would be irresponsible for me to say I have the answers.  I don't know what we should do.

My bachelors degree from Trinity University doesn't equip me to solve the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression.

Our recent posts aren't meant to say we have the answers.  We don't.  Instead we are simply pointing out that there is an actual problem.  The numbers indicate Texas is not immune from the global economic crisis.

Rick Perry, John Cornyn, and Kay Bailey Hutchison all seem to think Texas is doing fine.  We aren't.  

What we are asking for is a public space to discuss a real problem.  Ignoring the problem removes that space.  

The first step can't be to offer solutions.  The first step has to be to create the public space for candidates, elected officials, public policy experts, and innovative Texans to get together and discuss the problem.  Only then can we come up with solutions.  

I agree saying jobs are lost is not the right choice of words.  But the opportunity to create and maintain jobs in Texas has been lost.

We aren't losing the opportunity because of federal aide or state money, we are losing the opportunity because we aren't talking about the problems.  Unemployment in Texas is over 6% after 2008.  That number is going to increase, and our current plan is to ignore the problem.

My solution is to address the problem and plan accordingly.

Today in Austin, the city is cutting proposed spending by $20 million.  They are planning for harder economic times. Why isn't the Governor or our U.S. Senators standing up and saying, unemployment is increasing, people are losing their homes, and we need help them.

This isn't a Democrat vs. Republican issue.  

All I want is for someone to create the public space we need to fix our countries problems.  I think small business growth is great.  I think green jobs are great.  I think maintaining fortune 500 companies and keeping those jobs in Texas are great.  Right now, everything is on the table.  All we need is a table.

[ Parent ]
You have a table! (0.00 / 0)
In fact, you have several: The legislative process is a table, the media is a table, this blog is a table, the electoral/democratic process is a table.  
Texas has business growth, Texas has green jobs (it will get more as the wind and solar industries continue to grow), Texas has Fortune 500 companies.  All those things are here and will continue to grow.  

You say that Perry, Cornyn, and Hutchison aren't addressing the jobs issue.  They are:

Rick Perry (1/30/09): "To improve our state's job growth, we need to improve the quality of our education at every level...Increasing our investment in community colleges and in worker re-training programs will also fortify an essential part of our state's workforce development efforts." http://governor.state.tx.us/ne...

John Cornyn (2/4/09): "The amendment I offered today...cuts the income tax rate in the lowest income tax bracket from 10 percent to 5 percent, so it would have immediately help lower and middle-income taxpayers, and it will help all working Americans immediately.  This amendment would provide meaningful tax relief to more than 105 million Americans, providing an immediate economic stimulus and jolt to our economy."  http://cornyn.senate.gov/publi...

KBH (2/7/09): "A better proposal would emphasize tax relief so that individuals and businesses can have more capital to inject into the economy, thereby encouraging private-sector job creation. It would also guard against government expansion. In short, we should promote permanent private sector jobs, not a permanent increase in spending and debt."  http://hutchison.senate.gov/op...

You may not support their proposals, but they are proposals nonetheless.  There is a table and they are engaged. I think that you are wrong to say there is not a forum for discussion just because Texas' statewide officials are advocating tax cuts and investment in education and workforce development.  Laissez-faire economic liberalism and Keynesian-style government intervention are both valid economic theories.  Just because RP, JC & KBH are lined up behind economic liberalism, rather than the Keynesian approach doesn't mean that they don't care or aren't engaged.

btw: thanks for engaging in this exchange with me... it is genuinely interesting to debate these things out.  I appreciate it.

[ Parent ]
Amazing post Matt (0.00 / 0)
Well done

Now, a very great man once said that some people rob you with a fountain pen.

Texas added more people than jobs... (0.00 / 0)
Texas added 150 thousand jobs in 2008. We also added 280 thousand people, mostly from other states, some from other countries.

That's not job losses. It's just that our job growth needs to be far more robust to keep up with all the new people moving to Texas. We need to be adding 300 thousand jobs or so each year to keep pace with all the people moving to Texas and keep our unemployment rate down in the sub-5% range.

BTW, Texas was the only state in the entire country to add a significant number of jobs in 2008.

I guess that explains it then... (0.00 / 0)
And the difference between 280,000 population growth and 150,000 new jobs is the 130,000 increase in "unemployment" during 2008. It's not job losses it's just that job growth hasn't been able to keep up with population growth. Thanks for clarifying.  

[ Parent ]
my #s came from BLS.gov by the way (0.00 / 0)
I forgot to cite my sources, too. They're from BLS data. We won't have the latest state-level data until later this month, but I am hearing they revised job losses for the national picture toward much bigger losses. I doubt that a negative revision for Texas would eat 150 thousand jobs, but it may have zapped 20 or 30% of those. We'll see later this month.

[ Parent ]
On Your Suggestion (0.00 / 0)
I just looked at the BLS stats again and it is showing the unemployment number at 535992 in January and a predicted 670590 in December.

Of course I factored unemployment eligibility and statewide population growth into the equation and I got a number similar to what the Texas Workforce Commission had if not a little larger.

I can regraph with those numbers if you think that is better, but I am not seeing the BLS echo your critique.  

Please let me know what you may or may not have done so that way I can emulate your results.  

I know you can't provide a link because of the way BLS does the site, but if you want to send a step by step at
Matt-at-BurntOrangeReport-dot-com please feel free.  

[ Parent ]
Quick question (0.00 / 0)
Does adding 280,000 people include kids? Because I'm guessing we're not expecting kids to have jobs. I'm just curious how that factors in to the correlation you're creating.

To be clear, this is a genuine -- not cynical -- question.

Now, a very great man once said that some people rob you with a fountain pen.

[ Parent ]
Another chart (5.00 / 2)
I've been doing a weekly economic sentiment poll for Texas since last summer. In this chart, the red line is the percentage of people who are expecting unemployment to increase in the next three months, while the blue line is the percentage of people who have someone in their household worried about losing their job in the next six months. The dip during the summer reflects the relief that came with lower gas prices. Out of the frying pan, into the fire.

Texas Unemployment Outlook

This is weighted to the adult demographics per the state demographer. The points reflect the trailing month of approximately 900 respondents (ie 225/week). MoE ~3.3%.

Texas Economics

That's scary (0.00 / 0)
Thanks for sharing this.  It is terrifying how dramatically the blue line is rising.

[ Parent ]
Texas Workforce Commission (0.00 / 0)
It helps to have a Reaganite running the TWC (when he isn't blogging, of course). The GOP can keep their heads in the sand longer.

Texas had a stable 2008 prior to recent months due to the fact Rick Perry has given away the farm to corportations. So many of us have kept our jobs, or there was even some growth prior to this summer.

But now we are stuck with an ever decreasing surplus, and no way to pay for the services the state of Texas needs, and even Perry himself calls for - school funding, health care, etc. Businesses need to pay their fair share, otherwise it is just a shell game of where the money comes from. And right now, it comes from the personal taxpayer.

Why I'm silent (0.00 / 0)
I'm holding back on the criticism here because I'm really stumped about what can be done at the state level.  I notice you have no ideas listed in your post.  Let's hear it folks, what would you have our state leaders do about this?  Complaining isn't good enough, we need alternatives.  I'm man enough to admit that at the moment, I am stumped.

Solutions (0.00 / 0)
Seeing as I am not an elected official or a policymaker, I am looking for something... anything to support.  Our Governor is pushing for isolationism and to ignore the problem.  I disagree with that philosophy.  Our U.S. Senators don't want to show up to do their jobs.  I disagree with that too.

If any person in a position to offer a suggestion offers one, I am all ears.

My solution, our statewide elected officials should do their jobs.

[ Parent ]
Here's an idea: (0.00 / 0)
Since you're looking for ideas, how about exempting small businesses from the Texas franchise tax?  The idea has bipartisan support: SB193 by Shapleigh and HB720 by Creighton (http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=81R&Bill=SB193)
Small businesses create jobs and keep the economy moving - why would we jeopardize that now?  Reducing their tax burden would certainly save some jobs, and it might even create new ones.

[ Parent ]
Ask Perry, Hutchisno and Cornyn that question (3.00 / 2)
First of all, Matt, excellent post.

As far as what Dale and Matt asked about what we would do, that's what we should be asking obstructionists like our Republican Governor and U.S. Senators.

The economic stimulus package would pump billions into Texas - for jobs, schools, highways, alternative energy and more. The Senate plan would provide over $6 billion for education in the next two years alone, at a time when even the wealthy suburban school districts are "suffering."

Yet these Republican obstructionists are talking about "spending" as if their party's economic policy hadn't erased a federal surplus and left us with a trillion in debt. And all they want is more of the same failed policy - more tax cuts for their wealthy patrons.

We do have something we can support - an economic stimulus plan. Sure it's imperfect, but we should not let a desire for the perfect prevent progress. We'll learn from mistakes (yes, unlike Bush, we have a President who is smart enough to know he makes mistakes sometimes, then learns from them) and perfect what needs correction.

The real disgrace here is Perry, one of only two Governors opposed to the stimulus package, and every Texas Republican in the US Senate and House. For them, it's all politics all the time, and the heck with the people caught in the crossfire of their political ambitions. If they had their way, too many Texans would be the first victims of the 2010 Republican primary, and it's time for us to speak up. With Kay or Rick, we're all losers, either way.

Summing it Up (0.00 / 0)
Perry et al are making this a situation of politics vs. policy and politics is winning. As long as Perry is making it Texas vs. Washington, we will never get the policy oriented debate we need to achieve real solutions.

It would be great to have a candidate for Gov to rally behind in these tough times.

[ Parent ]
There is a winnable policy and political debate (3.00 / 2)
Just one example - look at what the stimulus plan would do for the state budget and all the unmet needs there. That's why almost every other Governor of either party supports the plan.

The Republicans - Rick and Kay and every one of them in Congress - lose the policy and political debate when they are cast as obstructionists and the price of their obstructionism is explained. We have plenty of officeholders in Texas who can do that, whether or not they are running for Governor. And we have our own voices, too. In this discussion, Kay is no better than Perry, and a lot Democrats need to get over their timidity about calling her out.

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