Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has built the early stages of his presidential campaign on his state’s ability to create jobs during the last two years of his governorship. The “Texas Miracle,” Perry often says, is responsible for 40 percent of the net new jobs created in America since June 2009. The “Miracle” is no miracle at all — Texas has the nation’s worst job creation record when adjusted for labor force growth — but Republican voters have lapped up the message, pushing Perry to a double-digit lead in early primary polls.
But at a time when federal, state, and local governments continue to shed jobs — more than 500,000 since President Obama took office in 2009 — a bulk of the job creation in Texas has come in the public sector. While Perry espouses small government rhetoric, the “Texas Miracle” created state and local government jobs at a faster rate than any state in the nation, according to 2010 Census data released Tuesday:
Census data showed Texas also boosted employment. The Lone Star state had the biggest percentage increase in state workers, 5.9 percent, from 2009 to 2010. That represented a gain of 17,800 full-time jobs.
Local governments in Texas also added the most part-time jobs of all cities, counties and towns, 24,731.
Texas’ success in the public sector is rare in a country where state and local governments cut more than 230,000 full- and part-time jobs in 2010. The trends have continued in 2011, with local governments cutting more than 100,000 jobs so far this year and with the overall public sector shedding more than 100,000 in just the last three months. Analysts polled by Reuters expect the August jobs report, set for release Friday, to show a net loss of another 30,000 public sector jobs this month alone.
But the state’s success in the public sector goes farther back than 2010. From 2007 to 2010, nearly half of the nation’s government jobs were created in Texas. While Texas lost 178,000 private sector jobs in that period, it gained 125,000 public sector jobs. From 2000 to 2010, public sector employment in Texas grew 19 percent, while private sector growth came at a much more modest 9 percent rate.
As former White House economic adviser Jared Bernstein wrote, Texas under Perry has followed “a traditional Keynesian game plan: as the private sector contracts, turn to the public sector to temporarily make up part of the difference.” But Keynesian economics are anathema to conservative Republican primary voters, who, like Perry, believe the government doesn’t create any jobs at all.