How North Texas helped drive the state’s economy and job growth
Texas led the nation in job growth last month, adding 542,500 positions since last June — with Dallas-Fort Worth seeing the largest job growth of any metro area in the state.
In fact, the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington Metropolitan Statistical Area had the second-largest year-over-year jobs increase in the entire country.
Ray Perryman is president and CEO of the Perryman Group economic analysis firm, and has been studying the Texas economy for decades.
He sat down with KERA's Bekah Morr to discuss the state of jobs in Texas, and why North Texas is so central to the economic growth of the state.
The below interview has been edited for length and clarity.
BEKAH MORR: The Texas Workforce Commission's June jobs report showed the workforce in Texas grew by more than half a million jobs since last year. What exactly is driving that increase?
RAY PERRYMAN: Some of it was the comeback from the pandemic, getting things back to normal. Obviously, that played a major role in what's going on.
There's also been a lot of growth in some of the service-oriented sectors, particularly the hiring in professional services, that type of thing. Fortunately, we've had growth in manufacturing, we've had growth in construction. The oil-and-gas sector has been quite strong. The state’s turned in a very strong performance.
Obviously, we can't grow about 500,000 jobs every year. We literally don't have enough people to do that. But a lot of it was the comeback of the pandemic and getting things back to normal.
MORR: Texas is also leading the nation in the number of new jobs created year-over-year. Can that be attributed to more people moving to Texas, or has there just been more job creation here than anywhere else in the country?
PERRYMAN: There's a number of things going on there. One thing is the state has done a very good job of attracting new industry and attracting new investment. The state has led the country in new economic locations and expansions for the past 11 years. So it's had a lot of new business come in and that helps bring a lot of people in. Our population growth this past year — about 75% of it was either domestic or international migration. And so we're able to bring the people in, I think, because we're bringing the jobs in. And then a lot of our own companies have made substantial investments as well.
MORR: What industries are we seeing the most growth in and why?
PERRYMAN: Well, the most growth in terms of sheer numbers is always service and retail trade sectors, that sort of thing.
Early in the year, we saw a particularly large number of new jobs in leisure hospitality, and that was because it was hit so hard by the pandemic.
Then we've also seen growth in things like professional services, which is where you see a lot of the young professionals coming in to Texas who are accountants, engineers, doctors and so forth.
So it's really a diverse set of industries and a number of things that are causing this to happen. We have some long-term challenges, there’s no question, but right now the Texas economy has really been hitting on all cylinders.
MORR: Can you talk a little bit more about what some of those long-term challenges might be?
PERRYMAN: One thing is growth itself brings its own set of challenges. The other thing is, like most parts of the country, we are experiencing a long-term workforce shortage because of demographics. We have a younger population in Texas that's worked to our advantage, but we also have a population in Texas that is more difficult to educate just because of their long-term demographics, socioeconomic status, that sort of thing. And we're spending less resources to educate them than most states. So there's a real challenge there.
Keeping up with infrastructure is a challenge. Water resources, getting broadband out to all parts of the state, having enough transportation infrastructure to support everything that's happening in terms of growth. We also are among the worst in the country in terms of access to health care. And over a long-term period of time that impacts morbidity, mortality, the productivity of the workforce and things of that nature.
We face a number of challenges going forward. If we're successful in meeting those challenges, the state certainly has a lot of resources that should indicate continued growth for a long time to come.
MORR: I want to hone in on the DFW area for a minute, because we had the second-largest increase in the number of jobs in the nation compared to last year. Can you talk about what that might mean for the region's economic outlook?
PERRYMAN: Well, the Dallas-Fort Worth area — or if you take a look a little bit broader, the Sunbelt — is the fastest growing part of the country. Dallas-Fort Worth is the transportation center. It's the financial center. It's the commercial center, the trade center of the Sun Belt. And so it's a place that dynamically has a lot of good things going on. It also has a number of large Fortune 500 corporations located there. And we're seeing some substantial new growth in things like life sciences. Basically, it's the center of the fastest growing area in the country, I guess is the best way to say it.
Got a tip? Email Rebekah Morr at email@example.com. You can follow her on Twitter @bekah_morr.
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