With Texas’ minimal regulation and low taxes — and Gov.Perry’s cheerleading — a spike in job growth during the past few years became known as the Texas Miracle.
The rise in oil and gas prices, as well as a long-time state law protecting homeowners, helped stave off the recession for a while. And as a result, the miracle myth was created, with little exploration as to what impact Perry’s policies actually had on the economic picture.
The low-tax structure means the state is chronically short of money and, this year, saddled with a huge budget shortfall. Social services and public schools are woefully underfunded. High school graduation rate is low, dropout rate high. One in four Texans lacks health insurance, by far the highest percentage in the nation.
Much of Texas’s recent growth is the result of adding low-wage jobs. Of the 211,000 jobs added last year, 37 percent (or more than 76,000) paid at or below minimum wage, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Texas now leads the nation in minimum-wage workers (550,000 in all). Despite the good economy, Texas remains a state of extreme wealth and desperate poverty.
“The important thing to do is not to just count jobs but to look at what kinds of jobs are being created in Texas,” explained Dick Lavine, a Senior Fiscal Analyst with the Center for Public Policy Priorities. “Texas is tied for last with Mississippi for the highest percentage of minimum wage jobs and Texas is by far the leader of residents who don’t have health insurance. It’s low wage jobs without any benefits.”
I’m aware sometimes a job is a job. But to hear Gov. Perry tell the tale, everyone should come to Texas to find employment and see how it’s done.
For over a third of you that might make the move to Texas, here’s what you can expect: a full time minimum wage worker in Texas working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, will earn $58.00 per day, $290.00 per week, and $15,080.00 per year. The national poverty line for a family unit consisting of two people is $14,570 per year.
Welcome to the land of milk and honey. Or smoke and mirrors.