Texas And The Case For Immigration

A very good chart from Ryan Avent illustrates Texas job growth by sector compared to the United States as a whole:

Obviously, with Rick Perry in the Presidential race incentives now exist for fans of Mitt Romney or Barack Obama to come up with ways to dismiss Texas’ rapid employment growth. That’s a mistake. What we ought to do is try to understand it. Obviously the oil and gas bit is somewhat sui generis. But the larger story is that you have all these people moving to Texas, leading to a slower decline in the pace of construction employment and much more robust employment in the government, health, and education sectors. If you’re just narrowly interested in Rick Perry, I think you have to say that it reflects well on him that a lot of people moved to Texas while he was governor. If you’re looking for national policy implications, it seems to me to be that we should embrace more immigrants. After all, where would Texas be today without the past twenty years of in-migration from other parts of the country? The state has prospered mightily from being more welcoming than most places (via its pro-construction regulatory climate) in welcoming new residents.

The United States as a whole, despite our current economic troubles, continues to the best of my knowledge to be a place where many people around the world would like to move. We have a much freer and less corrupt political system than the one experienced by most people. We’re much richer than most countries. If a larger share of the people who wanted to move here were allowed to move here, then as we see in Texas they wouldn’t be chasing some fixed supply of “jobs.” They would also be serving as the customers for the work of others. We’d build houses to accommodate the newcomers, they would open some new kinds of businesses but also patronize many of our existing ones. It’s interesting that everyone can see this in the domestic migration context. Nobody thinks Texas needs to build a wall along the Louisiana border.