California Suggests Suicide; Texas Asks: Can I Lend You a Knife?

Norhill Realty November 30, 2010

Bring all of those jobs to Texas.  We’ll be happy to take’em off your hand California.   As a third generation Houstonian and Texan, I am enjoying this transfer of economic power very much.  No doubt Texas can do better in a lot of areas (namely higher education), but our libertarian leanings are servings us well.

Urban development scholar and California resident Joel Kotkin attempts to give his state a wake-up call at  NewGeography.com. Here’s a few excerpts:

In the future, historians may likely mark the 2010 midterm elections as the end of the California era and the beginning of the Texas one. In one stunning stroke, amid a national conservative tide, California voters essentially ratified a political and regulatory regime that has left much of the state unemployed and many others looking for the exits.

California has drifted far away from the place that John Gunther described in 1946 as “the most spectacular and most diversified American state … so ripe, golden.”  Instead of a role model, California  has become a cautionary tale of mismanagement of what by all rights should be the country’s most prosperous big state. Its poverty rate is at least two points above the national average; its unemployment rate nearly three points above the national average.  On Friday Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was forced yet again to call an emergency session in order to deal with the state’s enormous budget problems

Texas’ trajectory, however, looks quite the opposite. California was recently ranked by Chief Executive magazine as having the worst business climate in the nation, while Texas’ was considered the best. Both Democrats and Republicans in the Lone State State generally embrace the gospel of economic growth and limited public sector expenditure. The defeated Democratic candidate for governor, the brainy former Houston Mayor Bill White, enjoyed robust business support and was widely considered more competent than the easily re-elected incumbent Rick Perry, who sometimes sounds more like a neo-Confederate crank than a serious leader.

To be sure, Texas has its problems: a growing budget deficit, the need to expand infrastructure to service its rapid population growth and the presence of a large contingent of undereducated and uninsured poor people. But even conceding these problems, the growing chasm between the two megastates is evident in the economic and demographic numbers. Over the past decade nearly 1.5 million more people left California than stayed; only New York State lost more. In contrast, Texas gained over 800,000 new migrants. In California, foreign immigration–the one bright spot in its demography–has slowed, while that to Texas has increased markedly over the decade.

A vast difference in economic performance is driving the demographic shifts. Since 1998, California’s economy has not produced a single new net job, notes economist John Husing. Public employment has swelled, but private jobs have declined.  Critically, as Texas grew its middle-income jobs by 16%, one of the highest rates in the nation, California, at 2.1% growth, ranked near the bottom. In the year ending September, Texas accounted for roughly half of all the new jobs created in the country.

To read the whole article, click here.

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