In a speech this afternoon announcing that he won’t run for reelection (and hinting heavily that he’s exploring a presidential campaign), Rick Perry touted Texas’ robust record of job creation. The problem with the kind of statistics Perry was talking about is that, as they say, “everything’s bigger in Texas”—it’s a giant state and more stuff in the aggregate is bound to happen there, including job creation, than happens in a Utah or Nebraska.
But even if you correct for state size by using an index measure as I’ve done above, the Texas job creation record is pretty stellar and has far outpaced the national average. A combination of good weather, pro-growth housing regulations, and a booming energy sector has given Texas one of the strongest labor markets in the country. But the real champion is little North Dakota which, though it can’t boast of good weather, has experienced a natural resources extraction boom that’s just enormous relative to the small size of the local population. And since people generally seem reluctant to move to North Dakota, it hasn’t seen an overall population boom on quite the Texas scale and has been enjoying ultra-low unemployment that Texas doesn’t have.