The question of job creation is the early hot topic in qualifying Rick Perry’s run for the presidency. Statistics of Texas job growth under Perry’s governance are being used politically to build and attack his bid, and debate rages over how much credit or blame he deserves.
Gov. Rick Perry enters the presidential race with one big advantage and one big impediment. The advantage: his record of job creation in Texas. His impediment? His record of job creation in Texas.
Through two years of weak economic recovery, Texas has led the nation in job creation. Of all the jobs created in the United States since 2009, 38% have been created in Texas. But if Texas has created many jobs, it has failed to create good jobs. Many of the jobs created since 2009 pay only minimum wage, and Texas, along with Mississippi, has the highest percentage of minimum wage workers in the U.S.
Truth be told, it’s unclear how much (if any) blame or credit Perry personally deserves for either Texas’ good job creation or Texas’ bad wages.
Massimo Calabresi in Time says that statistics point in both directions:
The Wall Street Journal’s lead editorial (6/10/11) touted “The Lone Star Jobs Surge” and reported, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers via the Dallas Federal Reserve, that “37% of all net new American jobs since the recovery began were created in Texas.” Texas has created 265,000 “net new jobs” since the recession ended in June 2009 through April 2011, the Journal reported.
Texas’ unemployment rate tells a different story. It has gone up from 7.7% to 8.0% over that same period. And by that measure, Texas has done worse than the rest of the country since the peak of national unemployment in October 2009: that month the U.S. rate was 10.1% and Texas was 8.2%. Texas peaked at 8.3% last December, dropping to 8.0% in April, while the national rate has dropped a point since it’s peak to 9.1%
As both sides of the political spectrum wonder how much credit or blame a sitting Governor should get for mixed statistical evidence, it is also begs the question how we in the church evaluate new jobs. Is it acceptable to claim success over the creation of jobs under a living wage? Do we make an exception during a poor economy, or is this the time when the gap between rich and poor must be dealt with?
Even Frum laments: “Must Americans choose only between the two ugly options: no jobs vs. low wages?”
In terms of justice, is it the responsibility of the church to set the bar higher?