Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) has been making some noise about potentially entering the 2012 Republican presidential race, and if he chooses to throw his hat into the ring, it’s quite clear that he will point to Texas’ economy as one of his credentials. “In Texas, you don’t have to use your imagination, saying, ‘What’ll happen if we apply this or that conservative principle?’” Perry said earlier this week. “You just need to look around, because they’ve been in play across our state for years, generating real results like unmatched job creation, more exports than any other state and a balanced budget.”
That Perry has a stellar record on job creation is simply not true. As the Austin American-Statesman noted, “while the national unemployment rate is 9.1 percent and the Texas unemployment rate is 8 percent, some 23 states, including New York, have lower unemployment rates.” In addition, “jobs grew at about the same rate during Democrat Ann Richards’ four years as governor” as they have under Perry.
Between 2008 and 2010, jobs actually grew at a faster pace in Massachusetts than they did in Texas, and “Texas has done worse than the rest of the country since the peak of national unemployment in October 2009.” But as it turns out, Texas is leading the nation in one employment metric — the number and percentage of minimum wage jobs:
Additionally, Texas has by far the largest number of employees working at or below the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour in 2010) compared to any state, according to a BLS report. In 2010, about 550,000 Texans were working at or below minimum wage, or about 9.5 percent of all workers paid by the hour in the state. Texas tied with Mississippi for the greatest percentage of minimum wage workers…From 2007 to 2010, the number of minimum wage workers in Texas rose from 221,000 to 550,000, an increase of nearly 150 percent.
The Texas Independent added, “the median hourly earnings for all Texas workers was $11.20 per hour in 2010, compared to the national median of $12.50 per hour.”
In addition to these facts that Perry would surely prefer stay under the radar, he relied more on the 2009 Recovery Act than any other governor and faced a $27 billion budget deficit for the 2012–2013 budget, after assuring everyone for months that Texas had its fiscal house in order.