The Texas Non-Miracle

September 22nd, 2011 at 11:34 am David Frum | 38 Comments |

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About all those new jobs created under Gov. Rick Perry…

The Center for Immigration Studies reports some facts that should sprinkle a little cold water on over-heated claims for the low-wage/high-immigration Texas economic model.

Of jobs created in Texas since 2007, 81 percent were taken by newly arrived immigrant workers (legal and illegal).

Absorb that for a minute.

Native-born Texans have experienced a jobs catastrophe very similar to that of Americans everywhere else in the United States, reports CIS:

The share of working-age natives holding a job in Texas declined significantly, from 71 percent in 2007 to 67 percent in 2011. This decline is very similar to the decline for natives in the United States as a whole and is an indication that the situation for native-born workers in Texas is very similar to the overall situation in the country despite the state’s job growth.

What we are seeing here is not a pattern of job creation. It is a pattern of job displacement.

The large share of job growth that went to immigrants is surprising because the native-born accounted for 69 percent of the growth in Texas’ working-age population (16 to 65). Thus, even though natives made up most of the growth in potential workers, most of the job growth went to immigrants.

And by the way – it’s not just a matter of jobs “Americans won’t do.” As the decline in native-born employment shows, these are jobs natives used to do as recently as 2007. And the displacement is occurring higher and higher up the pay scale.

Immigrants took jobs across the educational distribution. More than one out three (97,000) of newly arrived immigrants who took a job had at least some college.

In all this, illegal immigration remains a huge factor, despite the often-heard claim that illegal immigration has slowed since the end of the housing bubble.

Of newly arrived immigrants who took jobs in Texas since 2007, we estimate that 50 percent (113,000) were illegal immigrants. Thus, about 40 percent of all the job growth in Texas since 2007 went to newly arrived illegal immigrants and 40 percent went to newly arrived legal immigrants.

A couple of conclusions follow:

1) There was no Texas miracle, from the point of view of the people who constituted the population of Texas back in 2007.

2) Rick Perry’s permissive view of immigration is not (as I’ve pointed out before) some compassionate-conservative exception to his no-soup-for-you economic policy. A permissive immigration is the indispensable prerequisite to the no-soup-for-you economy over which Perry presided.

3) Immigration is not an issue separate from the debate over employment and growth. It’s integral. You could plausibly argue in the 2000s that immigration was ancillary to job growth for Americans – or even that it somehow spurred job growth for Americans. In today’s context however, immigration is increasingly a substitute for job growth for Americans.

4) Mitt Romney finally has his answer the next time Rick Perry attacks him for Massachusetts poor jobs ranking in the early part of the 2000s.

“The numbers show, Governor, that your economic policy was great at creating jobs – for Mexico.”

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38 Comments so far ↓

  • mannie

    I see the world as bifurcating into the haves and the have-nots not along the traditional nation model, but on a transnational scale. No more can it be said with confidence that a have-not in America is better off than even a have in Mexico. Texas is out in front of this wave of having the socio-economic profile of the former First World morf into a Third World profile.

    • balconesfault

      No more can it be said with confidence that a have-not in America is better off than even a have in Mexico.

      Well, that was always the case .. the haves in Mexico have pretty damn nice lifestyles.

      The real kicker is that the middle class in America has been effectively shrinking over the last few decades, while the middle class in Mexico has been growing.

  • Graychin

    Mr. Frum, your words are going to be DELICIOUS when you eat them during the general election campaign next year and endorse Perry for President.

    • mannie

      Mr. Frum is a reasonable, fair-minded man, and I feel Mr. Obama will ultimately get his endorsement in 2012.

    • Smargalicious

      DF obviously dislikes Perry. There’s probably one to two anti-Perry threads started by him every day.

      • John Q

        Well, duh!

        Mr. Frum is a (relatively) reasonable guy.

        Of course he’s gonna be against Governor Perry.

      • DeathByIrony

        Ah, but the question is: Will he overlook his distaste for the man and endorse him for 2012, to preserve his conservative credentials? He could endorse Obama to reaffirm his tendency to call a spade a spade, but the fallout would be severe.

  • Oldskool

    The take-back of the soutwest isn’t necessarily bad. Mexicans seem to be more family oriented than the rest of us and it’s not possible to work harder than they do. Perry would be wise to pander for their votes and separate himself from the far right on at least one issue.

    • jakester

      Oh right, your hardworking family orientated saviours of all that is good and decent did such a good job making Mexico into the model country and society. Spare us your patronizing hispanophilism. If they and their modern wonderful culture are so great, then what are they doing here?

      • rockstar

        Does anybody on this forum have any idea how hard it is to get a call-center job in the Southwest if you aren’t a native Spanish speaker? Anybody at all?

        Didn’t think so.

  • LFC

    Maybe Perry’s campaign slogan should be “BELOW MINIMUM WAGE JOBS FOR EVERYONE!”

    • balconesfault

      Well, fwiw over the last few years Texas has led the nation in growth of minimum wage jobs … and is tied with Mississippi as the state with the greatest portion of their workforce in minimum wage work.

    • MonyPony

      Where do you folks get your info?
      Let’s look at the data. Here’s a link: Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates

      Texas median hourly wage is $15.14… almost exactly in the middle of the pack (28th out of 51 regions). Given that they’ve seen exceptional job growth (and these other states have not) this does not seem exceptionally low.

      But the implication here is that the new jobs in Texas, the jobs that Texas seems to stand alone in creating at such a remarkable pace, are low paying jobs and don’t really count.

      If this were true, all these new low-paying jobs should be dragging down the wages data, right? But if we look at the wages data since the beginning of the recession [img][/img]

      And it turns out that the opposite is true. Since the recession started hourly wages in Texas have increased at a 6th fastest pace in the nation.

      As a side note, the only blue state that has faster growing wages is Hawaii. Just thought I’d get that jab in since so many people have been making snarky “Yeah, I could get a job in Texas is I wanted to flip burgers!” comments at me on Twitter.

      While it is true that Texas median household income ($48,259) is less than some states like California, New York, and Connecticut, the state does fare well when the income is adjusted by the Cost of Living (COL). When the COL is factored in, Texas’ median household income ($53,009) exceeds California by $8,550, exceeds New York’s by $10,403, and Connecticut’s by $1,532. These are 2009 figures from the U.S. Census Bureau reported in a U.S. News article.

      Note that those figures are based on median income (a midpoint, as many above as below). Please explain: if Texas has been creating only minimum wage jobs, how is the Texas median income still $48,259? A minimum wage job in Texas would only earn $15,080/yr?

      • paul_gs

        Good comment MonyPony.

      • DeathByIrony

        Addressed in the above article. Not all of these jobs were burger flipping jobs, because not all of these immigrants were people with burger-flipping educations.

  • abc123

    Wow, I have to think some of the more conservative candidates will bludgeon Perry relentlessly with that one. He’s been the teflon candidate so far though. It’s a good test to see what it really takes to ruffle his perfectly maintained hair.

    • Drosz

      Maybe it’s just me, but it already seems like Perry is on the downward slide of his presidential campaign. I think many people were waiting for him to calm down and find his “groove”, but he just keeps gettin’ crazier every time we see him. Even crazy starts to get old.

    • balconesfault

      The problem is … I don’t think you can bludgeon Perry over this without effectively repudiating all of the mainstream GOP economic policies over the last 30 years.

      Perry really just represents the nadir of these policies. Perhaps he’s having foreign workers doing jobs for lower wages here in Texas, rather than in the Pacific Rim or Pakistan or Central America like so many anti-union fetishists support in non-right-to-work states … but the economic results for American nationals is largely the same.

  • Watusie

    This is fascinating – suddenly people on the Right are interested in the use of actual facts and verifiable numbers in discussing policy questions.

    Does this only hold true for the primaries? Or will it continue in the general election as well? Because here are two I am fond of:

    * Seventy-one percent of current U.S. debt was accumulated during Republican presidential terms.

    * Two-thirds of debt-ceiling elevations since 1960 have been signed into law by Republican presidents.

    • Anonne

      This is fascinating – suddenly people on the Right are interested in the use of actual facts and verifiable numbers in discussing policy questions.

      Only them thar RINOs, Watusie.

  • lilmanny

    I hope Mr. Frum is getting paid by the Romney campaign. No, seriously. Because he’s doing a better job than they are of telling people why Perry is a bad option. Unfortunately the people that are going to push Perry over the edge are currently reading Jerome Corsi and buying gold coins because Glenn Beck is a trustworthy investment counselor.

    It’s ironic that Romney is perceptibly gaining on Perry, as the whole reason for Perry’s existence as a candidate was because of Romney’s fatal flaws. Perhaps when Mr. Frum is done rolling in his Romney dough, Romney will have cratered because of buyer’s-remorse-remorse and will need even more help writing zingers. At that point you could charge him triple. How Randian would that be?

  • Anonne

    Even so, I question some of these numbers. Texas also led the nation in growth of GOVERNMENT jobs. Unless these numbers mean that a significantly high proportion of all those government jobs also went to immigrants, legal or not, I am wary of these estimates.

    • MonyPony

      I’m not sure where this one comes from, but the numbers are these (and can be found by selecting government employment from the data wizard at this link

      Counting from the beginning of the recession (December 2007) the Texas public sector has grown 3.8%, or a little under 70,000 employees. This is faster than normal employment, but it’s not off the charts.

      Given that the Texas economy has grown so much and private sector jobs have grown so much, that doesn’t strike me as an unsustainable growth in the public sector.

      But, just in case anyone is really worried about it, you can lay your fears to rest because in the last year the Texas public sector has shrunk by 26,000 jobs. In the last 12 months, Texas lost 31,300 federal employees, trimmed 3,800 state jobs, and increased local government jobs by 8,400 jobs.

      (To be fair, this was partially driven by the role Texas employees played in the census, which inflated federal job numbers this time last year. Since the census numbers stabilized, federal employment has been at about break-even.)

  • Rob_654

    But isn’t that what the “Free Market” and the Free Movement of Labor is all about?

    If someone from somewhere else will do the work for less money, less benefits, less safety – the Free Market says “Hire them – legal or illegal – it doesn’t matter”.

    Aren’t we always told from the Right that the Free Market knows best and we have to bow before the alter of the Free Market.

    Sounds like from a Conservative Free Market Point of View – Texas is doing things perfectly.

    • NRA Liberal

      Indeed. I never understand the whole anti-immigration libertarian thing. If you press them on it, they’ll say something about wanting the free-market game to be played on a level field, or more likely, will blame government (there’d be no problem if not for welfare which attracts immigrants, etc).

  • armstp


    The source of your information: Center for Immigration Studies

    is a well know bias, partisan and at times straight-out racist and bigoted organization.

    They are always conducting their analysis with the idea of “proving” their anti-immigrant viewpoint. They use the tried and true method of trying to create facts and analysis to fit their pre-determined conclusions, which is not much different than I am sure you are aware what Heritage, CATO and AEI do. There is absolutely no integrity in their work.

    “FAIR, CIS and NumbersUSA are all part of a network of restrictionist organizations conceived and created by John Tanton, the “puppeteer” of the nativist movement and a man with deep racist roots…CIS was conceived by Tanton and began life as a program of FAIR. CIS presents itself as a scholarly think tank that produces serious immigration studies meant to serve “the broad national interest.” But the reality is that CIS has never found any aspect of immigration that it liked, and it has frequently manipulated data to achieve the results it seeks.”

    • JohnnyA

      Armstp, agreed. Don’t bother, Frum gets called out every time he uses these CIS opinion pieces full of clichés that masquerade as ‘studies’ and have about as much integrity as global warming denial pieces.

      What I like most about Frum is that on many subjects his view is rational, practical, informed and fact based and that he calls out politicians and other writers for cherry picking their ‘facts’ from highly biased and loose with their facts organizations and think tanks.

      It’s a shame he can’t do the same with immigration, if Frum brought the same approach he brings to other hot subjects he could add a lot of value to the debate. I guess he uses CIS pieces for 1 or 2 (or both) reasons:

      1) Like global warming denial, the anti-immigration movement is just so far from the facts that they don’t bother with facts and real data – there’s no good material out there so they just preach to the galley.
      2) It’s a volatile subject and I guess some controversy on the site would be good for traffic. A Canadian immigrant who made his fortunes in the US is against Mexican immigration. I guess that could drive traffic…

    • JohnMcC

      Mr STP, you ‘stole my thunder’. A Google-search of ‘John Tanton’ or ‘Mark Krikorian’ will reveal that CIS has a very significant ox in this fight.

  • Hunter01

    The Republican base has the numbers to call the shots, and, collectively, they have imprinted with Perry. They will follow him anywhere (even while they are scratching their heads trying to figure out what the heck he is talking about). Romney can’t dislodge their commitment to Perry any more than Perry can dislodge the RINOs commitment to Romney. It’s not about facts, true or contrived; it’s about worldview. Perry is one of them, Romney (and Frum) are not.

    • MonyPony

      You might read some of my comments above to see why conservative Republicans favor Perry.

  • paul_gs

    Well, that’s one study from the CIS.

    So how good are their “facts”?

  • Brittanicus

    Texas Governor Rick Perry obviously doesn’t realize that any benefits for illegal aliens, whether it’s the $100.000 tuition fee in the University of Texas or any number public assistance programs is just a tremendous draw to foreign persons, from across borders or a visitor’s visa ticket from anywhere abroad. Anything that is free is going to entice people, especially when their own country is corrupt or have no interest in gaining support from its people. What is seriously unconstitutional is giving advantages to illegal children over the rights of citizen children, who must pay full tuition as out of state students. In yesterday’s melee, this became a highlighted issue of extraordinary importance to the audience. In a partnership with YouTube and Fox News featured the Republican Presidential Primary candidates in a debate answering questions from the online community.

    Perry was confronted by boos, and hecklers who gave no-quarter to this seemingly special preference to the children of illegal aliens. Senator McCain in 2007 felt the brunt of this condemnation, for the passage of a “Path to Citizenship” and equally abhorrent his pursuance of another mass amnesty. This immediately wrecked his chance of the Presidency, as his campaign money machine ground to a halt through this irrational agenda. Make no mistake that large majorities of the Hispanic people are not going to fall in this political trap, as hundreds of thousands do not believe in pandering to the illegal immigrant onslaught. Like all Americans their jobs are in jeopardy as well, as it is for Latino’s, Blacks, Whites, Asians and others who qualify as lawful residents. The TEA PARTY doesn’t condone any type of official pardon, for those who stole into our country. Voicing her opinion, Bachmann said: “We will not have taxpayer-subsidized benefits for illegal immigrants or their children.” She pledged to build a fence along the U.S.-Mexican border, a shift that Perry opposes. In the latest report surveyed by (FAIR) Federation of American Immigration Reform, Texas is subsidizing illegal aliens with 4.7 billion annually in contributions from its taxpayers.

    These payments cover education, medical care and incarceration that are just one state forced by the federal courts in unfunded mandates. Fair states, “State and local taxes paid by the unauthorized immigrant population go toward offsetting these costs, but they do not come near to matching the expenses. The total of such payments can generously be estimated at slightly less than $1 billion per year.” In addition Fair acknowledged, “The fiscal costs of illegal immigration do not end with these three major cost areas. The total costs of illegal immigration to the state’s taxpayers would be considerably higher if other cost areas such as special English instruction, welfare programs used by the U.S.-born children of illegal aliens, or welfare benefits for American workers displaced by illegal alien workers were also calculated.

    All 50 states are burdened by illegal immigrant costs, but in ratio the Sanctuary State of California beats them all, with a rising entitlement program of $9 Billion. Californians should not be expected to presume this already large and growing encumber from illegal immigration simply since businesses or other special interests benefit from being able to employ lower cost workers. In all the Heritage Foundation has analyzed a cost projection of every state, with an inclusion of federal funding–but not limited to $113 Billion dollars a year. All this money taken from the American taxpayers pay check. Even more astounding is the US government allowing illegal workers, to send an average of $46 billion dollars out of the country, to foreign banks?

    Rick Perry may have cooked his own goose, for as a Governor of a state he should be protecting his citizens and legal populace. Giving out taxpayer dollars to foreigner’s children is not just a Texas issue. There is no doubt in the TEA PARTY ticket, illegal immigration is going to take center stage, next to jobs and our wilting economy. Rep. Lamar smith is correct, when he impressed on the issue of his mandatory E-Verify proposal in Congress, this an imminent in vote right now, “That the only people losing their jobs–will be illegal aliens.” Of course the usual radical voices are raised, as critics opposing this Historical Immigration Bill, H.R. 2885 are searching for any loophole to drag it down. They are using what inflammatory rhetoric or lies they can muster against the passage of E-Verify “the Legal Workforce Act.” First they contest it that legal American workers could be turned away in being hired. So that person just addresses that grievance by going to their local Social security office; illegal aliens will stay well clear of this agency. None of the media will inform their readership of this?

    Following through with this is an expensive proposition for small businesses, when it’s a simple computer generated program and cost nothing to operate. The usual suspects are behind this bombardment of hoping to terrorize the people with this verbal garbage. Adverse entities such as Tea Party Nation or Tea Party Express have limited influence on the millions of in the Tea Party members, who want to see our 1986 Immigration laws severely enforced. They also want the instant citizenship law amended, so billions of dollars are not going to parents of these babies snuck into the United States, so they can get free hospital care, free housing, free food stamps and cash payments for every child. The misinterpretation of the 14th Amendment, has given 300.000 children at an annual rate for illegal parents, free access to the American people’s welfare safety-net.

    The people who vote in 2012 have probably the hardest selection in choosing a new president. Obama’s immigration enforcement was on the right track, until he began issuing executive orders and not complying with the “Rule of Law.” After all Liberal oriented presidents think they are not subject to the US Constitution. The job of his administration is to deport–ALL–illegal aliens, not select who can stay, because they hadn’t committed a crime. The next man/women in the White House must follow the law, which has been manipulated successfully by the public servants in the Dept of Justice. They should not be intimidated by the Church, unions, business, giant agricultural corporation, farmers or the open border groups. Instead of trying to undermine financially hurting states from converging crowds of illegal immigrants, they should be enforcing the laws in the border regions, where states like Arizona, California, Texas and New Mexico are in constant conflict with drug cartels and the tracks of foreigners moving Northwards in to America.

    Who amongst presidential contenders will really fit the bill, to beat Obama later next year? Businessman Herman Cain, a true partier who has a great plans and addressing the crippling Tax code, we have now and so does Bachmann? Being that illegal immigration has become an oppressive financial problem, finding the best candidate with an antidote is not for former for Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul as they have little to say about this controversial battle that is unceasing.

    We can all stand with our fellow jobless countryman by Calling House and Senate Leadership NOW Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. In winding up, Arizona, Georgia, Alabama and other states have been persecuted by Dept of Justice Eric holder and his mob. All these states need our help from years of a neglected border and the flow of–ECONOMIC–foreign nationals. Don’t take my word for the facts, as you can find the ugly truth of the illegal settlement at NumbersUSA that has been forced upon us for over thirty years. There have been 6 additional hidden small Amnesties and the clandestine importation of millions of semi-skilled workers that have arrive here every year, in competition from US workers high paying jobs. Other websites that will deliver the facts about the criminal element, with wide ranging access to the E-media is American Patrol.

    • Dragonfly

      That’s right – we need to turn off the magnet – build a wall/fence; not only for illegal aliens, but for drugs and terrorists.

      Perry would be the WORST person to put into office.

      This is the guy for the job;

    • hopitab

      I couldn’t get through the Brittanicus rant, but there’s some pretty odd stuff in the first paragraph. The children of illegal immigrants are not being given a “free” education. They are getting the instate tuition rate of almost $10,000 a year. The out-of-state tuition rate is about $22,500 a year. In this case, it is the residence in Texas which seems significant. We are talking, in most cases, of young adults who have lived almost their whole lives in Texas.
      It is the people of Texas who pay the public share of UT’s budget, legal and illegal alike. Residents of other states get discounted rates from their state institutions.

  • Dragonfly

    If Perry gets the GOP nomination he is going to be used as the poster child for the DNC to paint and taint the GOP with a broad brush to hurt their efforts for the White House as well as the 23 liberal Senate seats up for grabs.

    25% of working Texans are without health insurance – in the debates Obama is going to be able to say, if not for governors like you I wouldn’t have had to enact ObamaCare – I’m a savior from the wrongs of the GOP.

    Perry’s budget mess has caused tens of billions of dollars to be slashed in services and tens of billions of dollars to be used in Obama stimulus money to help patch the mess – Obama will be able to say, if not for my stimulus – I’m a savior from the wrongs of the GOP.

    Then there’s the drug and the drug money – they will paint the GOP as Merck monsters.

    The sooner Perry is out the better for the GOP.

  • Dragonfly

    Clinton is an alumnus of Georgetown University where he was Phi Beta Kappa and earned a Rhodes Scholarship to attend University College, Oxford.

    George W Bush received an Undergraduate Degree from Yale University then went on and received an MBA from Harvard School of Business.

    Barak Obama is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was the president of the Harvard Law Review.

    Perry got a C in Reproduction in Farm Animals, a C in genetics, a D in Feeds & Feeding, a C in Sheep & Angora Goat Production and two C’s in animal breeding classes.
    Perry also got a ‘D’ in Introduction to Economics and a ‘C’ in Gym.

    Ya, Perry ought to go over well in the history books – NOT.

    And a ‘D’ in Introduction to Economics being the extent of his business schooling…………

    Perry never held a private sector job in his life.

    Seeing his grades explains his debate performances, and the state of his state.

    Romney received his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University, and thereafter earned Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration joint degrees from Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School.

    Romney also has executive experiences as governor and many in the private sector – it’s the economy, stupid – Romney is what America needs.

    Rice as VP would be outstanding – she has national security experience, which will come in handy, even for the election – the Dems may create a need situation seeing they don’t have the economy – Rice covers that, and it would be good to have her experience, gain some Black votes for the GOP, and keep the country from rioting if Obama is knocked out by all whites.

    Besides, Condi is Director of Stanford Graduate School of Business’ Global Center for Business and the Economy.

    Romney/Rice is a dream team that is well needed for America.

    Given a Republican-controlled Congress, Romney/Rice will bring America back to her glory days in no time.

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