Looks like Gov. Rick Perry has a new favorite number. During the campaign, he frequently touted an 850,000-net-job gain during his tenure. On the media circuit to promote his new book, Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington, he seems fond of 153.
"Since the first of the year, 153 businesses at last count had moved out of California to Texas," he said on "Fox & Friends" Nov. 4. Then on Nov. 8, he said it to host Greta Van Susteren on Fox News's "On the Record." Later that day he told the host of Comedy Central's "Daily Show," Jon Stewart, that "153 businesses have moved out of California to Texas since the first of the year through August."
Perry spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger told us that "the 153 figure came from a Dun & Bradstreet analysis of California business migration from January 2010 to August 2010." Dun & Bradstreet is a New Jersey-based business-intelligence company with a global database of some 171 million companies in more than 190 countries.
"Texas was the largest recipient of outbound California business migration with 153 companies," she said. When we asked her for the analysis, she directed us to a D&B official.
Mark Muckerman, D&B government relations director, told us that the company conducted an internal exercise — most of which he said has not been shared outside the company — of "interstate moves of business locations," or businesses that have relocated out of state. He said that 153 businesses relocated from California to Texas from January through August.
However, Muckerman said, the D&B count does not mean that 153 individual companies pulled up stakes in California to settle in Texas. Muckerman offered this example: If one company with five offices in California keeps its headquarters in state and moves its branches out of state, including one to Texas, that would figure into the D&B count that Perry cites.
Muckerman revealed one other caveat. He said the "interstate moves" don't include new business locations. So if a California company decided to open a brand-new packaging facility in Texas, it wouldn't be counted among the businesses that have moved from California to Texas.
Muckerman said he didn't know how Perry learned of D&B's internal report though he presumes someone at D&B spoke to someone in the governor's office.
We wondered how many business sites moved from Texas to California. Muckerman told us there were 92 such moves, leaving Texas with a net gain of 61 business sites from the Golden State.
How did California rank in landing business sites from other states? Muckerman declined to disclose that information.
Lacking more data from D&B's research, we struggled to evaluate the significance of 153 business sites having moved to Texas from California over the past eight months.
Muckerman said that "from a purely economical development viewpoint," any gain from another state is good news. Putting Texas' numbers in perspective, he said, 19,585 business sites in the D&B database showed a change of address from one state to another between January and August. Of those, 1,280 relocated from other states to Texas, which ran second to Florida in relocations. Florida's haul was 2,032, Muckerman said.
Where does that leave us?
Wishing for more data. And if it surfaces, we'll consider revisiting this subject.
Still, based on the limited information D&B has shared, it looks like Texas netted 61 business sites from California from January through August, less than half the one-way total that Perry cites. Also, as D&B advised us, not all of the 153 sites that came here from there necessarily reflect whole companies making the move east. Instead, the 153 moves could have involved individual offices or branches of firms that continue to do business in California.
We rate Perry's statement Half True.