His four main conclusions, and why they're wrong...
Unemployment Rate. Matthias: Even at 8.2%, Texas has performed better than other states, and in fact has a ballooned unemployment rate due to increased migration. The Whole Story: Actually, he got this one. But his analysis goes downhill from here. Read on. Also worth noting: Massachusetts and New York mirror the Texas rate and pre/post recession trend, and Nevada is seeing the complete opposite effect due to exodus.
Low wages? Matthias: No. Median income $15 (28th, nationally), and fast wage growth post recession, so everything's super. The Whole Story: Median income isn't an accurate indicator, especially in "top heavy" Texas. Median income in Texas is skewed by a uniquely large gap between high skill workers (oil engineers, for example) with salaries well above national averages, and hourly wage workers (service industry, retail, etc) well below. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics -- the same place Matthias gets his median numbers -- service industry salaries in Texas fall 10.3 - 13% below the national average, and nearly 10% of these workers are at or below minimum wage. That leaves Texas tied for the top spot in the nation for population making nothing more than minimum wage. While this may attract business chasing cheap labor to the state, it hardly positions Texas as a solid wage mecca as Matthias concludes.
Unique Energy Sector "Boost"? Matthias: No. Even if you take the energy sector out, Texas job market is growing fast. The Whole Story: What? Matthias displays here the ancient axiom that being a (self professed) whiz at math doesn't give you an edge in common sense. The energy sector in Texas has dwindled greatly since the 1980's, but it still brings with it supporting sub-sectors that are themselves substantial chunks of the market makeup of the state. Short: Energy sector employees eat lunch, buy toothpaste, get their cars fixed, go to movies, shop at malls... you know, all the things that you do in your average day with your money. Even Shorter: Vernal, UT, without an energy industry, is a road sign and a porta-potty (some will argue it's not much more than that now, but you get my point). It's impossible to conclude that without the energy industry there would be the same rate of growth in Texas. Im. Poss. Ible. To use an example Matthias himself will understand: Say you have a two foot tall column of pennies that represent your state's job market, each penny dependent on the one below and above for stability. You decide to grab a fistful in the middle of the column and just yank them out. The result? Pennies everywhere. You simply wouldn't see the same productivity in Texas without the energy sector, and in mid-recession Texas this sector was booming.
Texas Jobs # Inflated by Public Sector? Matthias: Nope. Public sector grown 70,000. High but not off the charts. The Whole Story: Texas workforce commission reports:
Dec 2007 - 1,781,000 jobsNet increase: 140,000. While Matthias is right +70,000 public sector jobs is the number now, why ignore the much higher number just one year earlier? Well, my friends, because that number is off the charts. And in the end it has to do with those tangential job market relationships again. Just as energy jobs have their supporting industries, so too the public sector. With the loss of 1/2 of these public sector jobs in just the last year, it's likely that supporting industries are -- as is typical -- slow to respond, but sure to respond (in fact, they're already seeing it), but Matthias would have you believe reaching this high water mark had no effect on the job market then and ongoing. He's wrong.
May 2010 - 1,920,000 jobs
And there's one final glaring omission from the Political Math post: $11 billion of stimulus spending in 2009 alone, in addition to federal $ for infrastructure projects. I'm sure he just forgot to mention it.
Finally, relish Gov. Perry touting the notion which Republicans and teabaggers have labored against for oh so long: government does, indeed, create jobs. Texas -- though obviously not the jobs "miracle" Matthias, Gov. Perry, Erickson, and NRO would have you believe -- is sitting in a better spot than all but two other states. How? Immigration, consumer protection (housing), and government spending. They balanced the budget with fed money, spent fed money, and cut taxes amidst that government optimized spending, while taking nothing away from the people, at least at the same time (Texas has a few health care and education funding challenges... but that's another post). Yay, Keynes! And Perry will be campaigning against all of this while seeking the TeaGOP nomination.
Some other great reads on this: Kevin Drum, Yglesias, Wall Street Journal, and David Dayden.