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Rick Perry’s Texas Record Shows Value of Immigration, Consumer Protection, Government Spending

I’m trying really hard to keep away from the 4,827 Rick Perry articles in the last day in the traditional media and lefty blogosphere. Rick Perry is the new shark attack story.

However, if we must look at the jobs record in Texas, we must. Kevin Drum has a decent enough rundown. I did my own version of this (I’ve been keeping myself to one Perry story a day). The story is familiar – an oil boom and population migration can explain much of the job gains in Texas, and even then, their unemployment rate is a high 8.2%, and a lot of the jobs created are low-wage.

But if you want to carry this out to the country as a whole, what can you say? First, you can say that the way to improve the economy in the United States is with more immigration inflows. After all, a big reason for the growth in the Texas economy is that they’ve attracted lots of people to the state. If the United States did the same, it would boost the economy.

Now, why are people flocking to Texas? A couple surmises: weather, and the rare lack of a housing bubble for a good-weather state. Now, this came about largely through consumer protection regulations and the lack of cash-out refinances or home equity lines of credit, based on a structure in place since Texas became a state in 1845.

Finally, as the population grew, the need for government services grew at the same time. And while Texas is a low-services state, they have increased their share of government jobs to a pretty high degree. In fact, between 2007 and 2010, Texas created 47% of all government jobs in America. A lot of this is due to the fact that Perry used the stimulus package to fill his budget gap, and it led to surges in hiring for education and health care. There were 125,000 net gains in public sector employment over that time, with 178,000 net losses in the private sector.

So if you break this down, the kind of policies Rick Perry would then bring from Texas to the US are: more generous immigration policies that allow more immigrants into the country; stronger mortgage regulation and consumer protection, and more government jobs.

Is that what he’s running on? I’ve missed all the speeches.

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David Dayen

David Dayen