The Texas “Miracle”

Invictus here (leave Ritholtz out of this):

The notion of a Texas Miracle — that employment in Texas somehow defied the grips of the Great Recession — has been debunked thoroughly here, here, here and here, just to cite four examples.

So, putting employment aside, I thought I’d examine some other metrics by which states are measured.  Using the excellent database at the Council of State Governments (which I’ve written about previously), I took a look at a dozen “quality of life” metrics to see how Texas ranks relative to its peers.

In each case, I ranked the 50 states in a manner where “1” is the best score achievable and “50” the worst (e.g., the highest high school graduation rate would garner a “1,” the lowest incidence of STD’s would also garner a “1.”  In other words, if you’re a governor — a state’s CEO, as it were — you always want to be #1 and, conversely, nowhere near #50.).

That said, let’s have a look at how Governor Perry’s Texas ranks in a dirty dozen metrics (and keep in mind that Perry has held the governorship for 11 years):

(Source citations for all statistics above are readily available at the CSG website.  Rankings by author.)

I don’t see much to be proud of in Perry’s stewardship of Texas.  And yes, I’ve highlighted some particularly poor scores, but believe me, Texas doesn’t fare much better in most of the others at the CSG database.  And these are all clearly issues over which a governor, given his/her influence on policy matters, could absolutely make a difference.  These rankings are, frankly, unacceptable, and now he wants to spread this record nationally?  And his “D” in Principles of Economics doesn’t hearten me, either.

ADDING (Aug. 18):  Quite a lot of commentary on this one, so a few things:

I am sympathetic to the immigrant argument, but am not in touch with data that would allow me to factor it in, so it is very difficult to quantify.  As there are three other border states, that may be one way to go.  I’d also point out that many states have their own particular idiosyncracies that influence their performance for better or worse.  I’d also note that immigration has been a problem in Texas longer than Perry has been governor — what steps has he taken to address it and why have they apparently not worked?  I’m open to suggestions on how to solve for these issues.

I don’t have the time to track the progress Texas has made (or not) over any period of time.  If I could easily pull data from, say, 2004 and make a five year comparison, that would be great.  But I think we should be able to agree that if Texas is currently ranked 50th in anything (which it is), its situation has clearly not improved in that particular metric; it can only have gotten worse.  Agreed?

The name-calling is juvenile.

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