TPPF on the Texas economy and the stimulus

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A Texas Public Policy Foundation policy brief that hit my In-box a few minutes ago (around one o’clock) has some interesting information about the performance of the Texas economy and the stimulus. The report was written in anticipation of a possible “second stimulus,” with the point being that the first stimulus did not have much effect here. In Texas, where an estimated $18 billion in federal stimulus† is flowing through the state and local governments, the pace of recovery remains subdued despite some positive signals. According to the state’s major economic and financial indicators: * Total non-farm employment has decreased. As compared to February 2009, total non-farm employment in the state has decreased by approximately 99,100 jobs, as of August 2010. * Private sector employment remains depressed. As compared to February 2009, employment in private sector-related industries has decreased by 204,500 jobs, as of August 2010. *Government-related employment is on the rise. As compared to February 2009, employment in government-related industries, namely the Government and Educational & Health Services sectors, has increased by 105,400 jobs, as of August 2010. *Texas’ unemployment rate has increased by almost 2 percent. Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has increased from 6.5 percent in February 2009 to 8.3 percent in August 2010, an increase of 1.8 percent. Per capita personal income has decreased slightly by nearly 1 percent. Per capita personal income—the income per person in a given population—decreased from $38,187 in the first quarter of 2009 to $37,857 in the fourth quarter of 2009 or nearly 1 percent, according to the latest available data. *Gross state product has grown slightly. The real Gross State Product (GSP) growth rate for Texas from the 1st quarter of 2009 to the 4th quarter of 2009—the latest data available—increased slightly by 1.5 percent, though some of this growth may be the result of increased government spending. While the indicators above are not an indictment of the success or failure of the stimulus, per se, it is fair to say that despite per capita state and local government stimulus spending of $708.40, Texas’ private sector job market remains weak and the overall economy is performing worse than expected, considering the nearly $20 billion being pumped through the state. * * * * Uh-oh. I don’t think the governor’s office is going to like this report. It seems to me that the White campaign could put together a TV spot that looks a lot like a Perry TV spot about jobs. In fact, they could run one of the Perry spots and morph it into a White spot. Perry has made a strong argument on the jobs issue. The Hutchison campaign never challenged him on it. The White campaign has to. They can’t concede this ground, and now they have the ammunition to say that Perry’s bragging about the economy doesn’t match what is really happening out there.

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