Conservatives say the Lone Star state’s recent record of growth validates their economic agenda. That record crumbles upon inspection.
But regardless of its sources, population growth fuels economic growth. It swells the supply and lowers the cost of labor, while at the same time adding to the demand for new products and services. As the population of Texas swelled by more than 24 percent from 2000 to 2013, so did the demand for just about everything, from houses to highways to strip malls. And this, combined with huge new flows of oil and gas dollars, plus increased trade with Mexico, favored Texas with strong job creation numbers.
But this model of economic development, which also combines a highly regressive tax system with minimal levels of public investment, has not allowed Texas to keep up with America’s best-performing states in per capita income or rates of upward mobility. And that’s what most people, including in Texas, most want the economy to deliver. The real Texas miracle is that its current leaders get away with bragging about it.
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