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Rick Perry casts himself as the Republican presidential candidate best suited to create jobs and right the economy, citing as proof the relatively strong job growth Texas has seen during his tenure and, particularly, amid the economic recession. But there’s some doubt that Perry is really the job-creating machine he claims to be.When Perry first became governor, in 2000, the state had 9.7 million jobs. As of last month, that number had grown to about 11.3 million. And though Texas did shed jobs for a full year during the recession, from October 2008 to September 2009, the state has been adding jobs ever since, with the exception of a slight downtick last month. An analysis by the blog Political maths shows that Texas has 2.2% more jobs now than it did at the start the recession, the a higher rate of growth than any other state.
Perry has largely taken credit for this expansion, claiming his small-government policies have spurred job growth. However, others have argued that those numbers are, despite Perry’s claims, the product of several outside factors:
- Rapid Population Growth: The state’s population skyrocketed in the last two decades, from 17 million inhabitants in 1990 to more than 25 million last year. That flood of new residents led to increased spending in the Texas economy, and thus more jobs. The population in Texas has grown for a multitude of reasons, but as Paul Krugman wrote recently in an article titled, “The Texas Unmiracle,” Texas’ model for job growth would not be feasible on the national level since, “every state can’t lure jobs away from every other state.”
- Energy: Texas also boasts a robust oil and natural gas industry that has boomed along with the rise in energy prices.
- $17 Billion Of Federal Stimulus: According to an analysis conducted by the Austin American-Statesman, almost half of Texas’ job growth in the past two years took place in the education, health care, and government sectors, all areas supported by federal stimulus money.
Perry is taking credit for a rosy job picture, as any politician probably would. But he’s probably exaggerating the role his policies played in fostering that job growth, or at least downplaying the role of outside forces.