If Texas Gov. Rick Perry is “the only bright light,” we may be worse off than some of us thought. Perry’s labor growth has been fueled by oil production and federal government spending for defense contractors and government workers to deal with a growing population. Big oil and defense contractors are two huge power brokers in Texas. The population is being spurred by immigrants, both legal and illegal. The attraction for business is little corporate regulation. Texas ranks No. 1 in water and air pollution.
Texas labor numbers reflect a huge growth in minimum-wage jobs. Texas shares first place, with Mississippi, in percentage of the population with minimum-wage jobs. And that percentage is growing, by 14 percent last year. Texas median hourly wage is lower than the national average by $1.30 per hour.
Many people would be happy to get a minimum-wage job in this economy. But, in Texas, those jobs are coupled with slashing education and social services. So moving forward, Texans will be less well educated, less healthy, and have fewer services for struggling citizens. Ironically, much of this growth in Texas labor is funded by the federal government through defense spending and stimulus funds, something Perry wants to eliminate if he gets to Washington.