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On Texas’ government jobs

Since I had previously complained about a lack of acknowledgement by Texas writers about the role that growth in the public sector has played in the so-called “Texas Miracle”, I want to give credit where it is due.

In the Texas that Perry has presided over as governor since December 2000, the job-creation record is more complicated — and more tied to government.

During Perry’s tenure, the combined number of federal, state and local government jobs in Texas has grown by 18.3 percent vs. a 10 percent increase in private-sector jobs.

One of every four jobs created in Texas since Perry became the state’s chief executive is in the government sector, figures from the Texas Workforce Commission show.

Since the U.S. recession officially ended in June 2009, Texas has added almost 297,000 private-sector jobs, a 3.5 percent increase. Government has added about 31,000, a 1.7 percent clip.

“Strong job creation over this period is the result of a thriving private sector and an increase in government workers. … We cannot ignore the fact that the government sector has added as many workers as mining over this time, with the U.S. Department of Defense alone adding nearly 5,000 jobs in Texas through military base consolidation,” said Jason Frederick, senior economist with bank BBVA Compass.

The mining sector includes the energy industry.

There are some helpful charts in the story to illustrate these points; if you do the math, the government sector was responsible for 26.5% of all jobs created during Perry’s tenure, which is slightly more than one in four. I hadn’t even considered the number of military jobs in the equation, since that’s not particularly visible here in Houston. I presume the post-recession figures are net growth, which would take into account all of the layoffs that local and state government have made since then, with more to come as the budget for the next biennium kicks in this week. Don’t expect our highest-since-the-80s unemployment rate to drop much in the near future.

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