Hometown Glory

Texas, America's jobs driver: The Economist credits Lone Star State for powering economy

Texas, America's jobs driver: The Economist credits Lone Star State for powering economy

Williams Tower, Transco Tower, downtown Houston, skyline
Photo by Jack Opatrany/Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau

Did you know that the name Texas originally came from the word "jobs" in the language of the Caddo, an Eastern Texas tribe of Native Americans?

No? That's because it's not true. (Fun fact: the original Caddo word "Taysha" meant friends or allies.) But based on new jobs figures compiled by The Economist, maybe the state should change its name.

It's been five years since the United States officially slid into recession in December of 2007, and the newest metropolitan employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that most cities have yet to reach pre-recession jobs levels. After all, the 10th-best city for growth between December 2007 and October 2012 is New Orleans, which has the slightly dubious accomplishment of breaking even on jobs during that time frame.

Of the nine American metropolitan areas (with more than half a million jobs) that recorded job growth that surpassed pre-recession levels, four are in Texas.

Austin's amazing growth leads the pack, with Texas' capital boasting nearly eight percent more employment than in 2007, or 55,400 additional jobs. On the other hand, Houston came in second in percentage change since 2007, with around five percent growth, but is the unchallenged leader in raw jobs numbers, with 128,000 more jobs now than before the recession. San Antonio came in fourth, and Dallas rounded out the Texas foursome in seventh place.

But as The Economist writes, even those numbers don't tell the whole story on Texas' strong jobs performance.

The second thing that stands out is Texas. The focus on just the very top of the league table for large metro areas actually understates the performance of the Lone Star State. Looking at all metropolitan areas, 8 of the top 20 and 17 of the top 50 metros, in terms of percentage employment growth, are in Texas."

Although the booming energy sector and more stringent mortgage policies in Texas are included as factors of Texas' remarkable, virtually recession-proof run, the author also points to Texas' strong population growth over the past five years as a main source of new jobs. But one could just as easily argue that the strong economy of the Lone Star State has been a cause, rather than an effect, of people from around the country and beyond making Texas their home.