Thursday, April 28, 2011

Texas Jobs

In the Time magazine April 4, 2011 issue on page 20 you will find a story “Where the Jobs Are.” There is a U.S. map with a red line pointed to the state of Texas. The caption reads Texas added 211,800 jobs in 2010.

I checked the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Survey file for statewide Texas jobs and found the numbers to compute the increase. As Time reported Texas establishment jobs were up 211.8 thousand for the 12 months ending December 2010.(1)

Citing the 12 month increase when jobs are going up generates a larger number than comparing another commonly cited figure: the monthly average of jobs for the year. Texas reached its highest monthly average of 10.6 million establishment jobs per month in 2008. Jobs declined to 10.3 million in 2009, but the monthly average improved by only 35 thousand in 2010.

Texas jobs from 2000 to 2010 are up by an average monthly increase of 910.4 thousand, a bigger increase than any other state. However, Texas also had the biggest increase in population in the same period, which was up 4.3 million between 2000 and 2010. Despite the new jobs, population growth was four times faster than jobs.

The figure Time magazine cites suggests a better future for Texas jobs, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes 159 data series that give statewide details of Texas jobs by industry sector and sub sector. As the old saw goes the devil is in the details.

Texas had just under a million manufacturing jobs back in 1990, which was 13.3 percent of statewide employment. Only 811 thousand remain, which is now 7.8 percent of Texas jobs. The 5.5 percentage decline means Texas needs faster than average growth in service industry employment to make up for the declining share in manufacturing.

Trouble is higher productivity restricts jobs in services not just manufacturing. Computer technology limits jobs in wholesale and retail trade where the use of computers for barcodes, inventory management and Internet sales raises sales per work hour and limits jobs. Amazon computers put Borders books in bankruptcy as netflix knocks out jobs at video stores.

Craigslist offers free classified advertising with a few dozen out of state jobs while fewer and fewer bother with the Yellow Pages. More enjoy the convenience of on-line banking from their home computer while fewer drive to a bank to exchange paper with a teller. More use continuously updating Internet stock quotations instead of newspapers.

Services like wholesale and retail trade, newspapers, communications and finance including insurance and real estate dropped as a percentage of statewide jobs between 1990 and 2010, which makes them like manufacturing because they have to be replaced by a declining number of other services.

In all, 12 sectors defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics lost 11 percent of Texas jobs from 1990 to 2010. Small share losses in natural resources, accommodations and personal services should recover with a better economy, but jobs lost to productivity gains and computers will not recover their previous share of Texas jobs.

The reality of shifting jobs between service sectors together with the long term decline in manufacturing limits the opportunities for Texas jobs. Percents must total one hundred which guarantees an 11 percent loss equals an 11 percent gain for other industries, but the sectors that gained a percentage of Texas jobs over the last two decades will have to continue to do so if Texas can meet its job requirements.

The biggest share of replacement jobs came in health care. Health care picked up 643 thousand new jobs equal to a 3.6 percent bigger share of statewide jobs. Public and private education jobs are up 485 thousand jobs over the last decade, 1.6 percent of statewide jobs. Texas has to support education and further health care expansion and concentrate on producing its health care needs within its borders to expect to meet the need for new jobs.

Private sector services in selected professional and business support services gained another 3.3 percent of Texas jobs. These include 280 thousand more jobs in careers like accounting, architecture, engineering, computer design, management consulting, and scientific research, but also business support services with 318 thousand new jobs in administrative and facilities services, employment services, temporary help services, telemarketing, security, janitorial maintenance, landscaping and a few more.

Professional services give a chance to bring in spending from outside Texas to support jobs with exported services. For 20 years growth rates nearly double the statewide average helped Texas meet its job needs with professional services. However, professional services are increasingly produced and delivered by computer as part of competition in the high productivity global economy. The reality of competition from other states and other countries makes it risky to expect above average job growth for professional services.

After professional services it was leisure and hospitality jobs including 401 thousand more jobs at restaurants that gained percentage share of Texas jobs. Construction, transportation, and repair services, mostly auto repair, also made small percentage gains.

Like so many other states, Texas jobs are shifting out of high productivity industries in the global economy and into low productivity industries in the local economy. Low productivity is the friend of jobs, but low productivity jobs can be divided into career jobs with generally self supporting salaries in health care and education and lower paid jobs in business support, leisure and hospitality as janitors, waiters, waitresses, maids, cashiers, ushers and ticket takers.

In politics the Democrats promise jobs and fail to deliver, the Republicans promise jobs and fail to deliver, and back and forth. Jobs are a long term problem. I reference 1990 and 2000 to emphasize that point. If Texas politicians want jobs they will need to put away their free enterprise slogans and develop some new policy for the long term. But that is a topic for another article.


Note(1) All job and employment number citations are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States Department of Labor, Current Employment Survey. No exceptions.


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