To Perry, a Quarter Million Jobs Means Zero

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Photo by Patrick Michels

The night Rick Perry announced he was running for president, he made a bold statement. After being introduced as “the jobs governor,” Perry told the crowd that “Washington’s insatiable desire to spend our children’s inheritance on failed stimulus plans and other misguided economic theories have given us record debt and left us with far too many unemployed.”

Perry has been railing against stimulus programs and federal spending for years, even as he’s used more than $14 billion in federal stimulus funds to balance the state’s budget. In September, during a debate between Republican candidates, Perry claimed Obama’s 2009 Recovery Act “created zero jobs.”

Problem is, economic studies show that is far from the case. In addition to the Congressional Budget Office’s report suggesting between 1.3 and 3.6 million jobs were created by the Recovery Act, independent economic studies from private companies like Moody’s reach similar conclusions.

This week, an independent study commissioned by Texans for Public Justice was released suggesting the Recovery Act created or preserved at least 264,000 jobs in Texas through 2010. The study, “Federal Stimulus Spending Accounted for a Quarter Million Texas Jobs,” adds to growing evidence that the Recovery Act created jobs.

The study, which was conducted by public policy and economics researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, doesn’t rely on the methodology employed by Recovery Act jobs data alone, but draws its own conclusions after testing eight different economic models.

In addition to revealing how many jobs the stimulus created in Texas, the research also shows that the state’s percentage of local, state or federal government jobs is higher than and has grown much faster than the national average.

The vast majority of these jobs, more than 243,000, were directly created or saved by stimulus funds, according to the report.

“In 2010, employment figures for Texas were growing,” says Andrew Wheat, research director at Texans for Public Justice, “but if you take away the stimulus figures, they were plummeting. That quarter of a million jobs saved tens of thousands of families from hardship.”

According to the study, Texas added more than 190,000 jobs during 2010. Without the stimulus, Texas would have lost, at the very least, around 53,000 jobs. Not only did the federal stimulus Perry so opposed create new jobs in Texas, it spared many Texas workers a pink slip. The top job gains during this period were in the government sector, education and healthcare, all of which rely heavily on federal spending.

Wheat says the findings speak to the role governments have in correcting economic downturns, something Perry and other conservatives have consistently denied.

Perry campaigned for governor in 2010 on a platform blasting the very programs that poured billions of job-creating dollars into Texas. He has boasted about turning down federal stimulus money, and while he was still campaigning to be president, he promised he would create no such programs.

An increasing amount of evidence, including this new study, shows that Perry’s economic premise is not only wrong but bad for Texas’ economic growth.

Nick Swartsell is a freelance writer and graduate student at the University of Texas.