Monday, September 19, 2011

The Texas Miracle Is A Tall Tale, Part 2

Rick Perry says he should be President because he knows how to create jobs.  But do those jobs keep Texans out of poverty?  The closer you look at it, the more Perry's "Texas Miracle" economy looks like nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

While it's true that Texas is responsible for 40% of the jobs added in the U.S. over the past two years, its poverty rate also grew faster than the national average in 2010.

Texas ranks 6th in terms of people living in poverty. Some 18.4% of Texans were impoverished in 2010, up from 17.3% a year earlier, according to Census Bureau data released this week. The national average is 15.1%.

And being poor in Texas isn't easy. The state has one of the lowest rates of spending on its citizens per capita and the highest share of those lacking health insurance. It doesn't provide a lot of support services to those in need: Relatively few collect food stamps and qualifying for cash assistance is particularly tough.

"There are two tiers in Texas," said Miguel Ferguson, associate professor of social work at University of Texas at Austin. "There are parts of Texas that are doing well. And there is a tremendous number of Texans, more than Perry has ever wanted to acknowledge, that are doing very, very poorly."

And the vast majority of those new jobs in Texas are minimum wage jobs.  The median hourly wage in Texas is $11.20, well under the $12.50 an hour that the US is averaging.  And as the article says, being poor in Texas is a pretty raw deal, with the state making major cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and other social programs.

All told, if the GOP theory that people are just on unemployment because they are lazy is true, then the combination of steep social spending cuts and high numbers of minimum wage employees should result in one of the lowest poverty rates in the country, yes?

Of course the numbers above show Texas is one of the most impoverished states in the union.  And remember, Rick Perry wants to do to all of America what he's done to Texas.

All hat, no cattle indeed.

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