Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Maryland vs. Texas on CNN's “Crossfire”

Govs. Rick Perry of Texas and Martin O'Malley of Maryland faced off over job-creation policy on CNN's "Crossfire."
Govs. Rick Perry of Texas and Martin O'Malley of Maryland faced off over job-creation policy on CNN's "Crossfire."

On CNN’s Crossfire last week, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, debated how best to promote a state’s economic growth and quality of life. Their discussion produced a blizzard of statistics with varying degrees of accuracy.

We fact-checked several of the claims along with our partners at PolitiFact Texas.

Crossfire host Stephanie Cutter said that one in 10 minimum-wage workers in the United States lives in Texas.

Actually, 18 percent of U.S. workers who were paid the minimum wage in 2012 toiled in Texas, according to government figures.

Since Cutter was arguing that Texas is not a land of plenty, the fact that she understated the state’s share of minimum-wage workers doesn’t short the Truth-O-Meter. We rated this claim True.

• Perry countered that 95 percent "of all the wages in Texas are above minimum wage."

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, 452,000 Texas workers in 2012 earned the minimum wage or less, accounting for a small minority -- 7.5 percent -- of the state’s 6 million hourly workers over all. That tends to support Perry’s statement. Still, those numbers are incomplete, because the federal agency that analyzes such data doesn’t gauge how much any non-hourly workers are paid.

It seems reasonable to speculate that most non-hourly workers earn more than the minimum wage, but it’s not an across-the-board certainty. We rated this statement Mostly True.

• In touting the jobs picture in Texas, Perry said every engine manufacturer is now in the state of Texas. Using a broad definition from the Census Bureau, we counted 17 firms in Texas that are involved with building engines. However, in that broad line of work, the total number of firms nationwide is well over 350. A sampling of the larger engine makers in the United States revealed some notable absences from Texas. We rated the statement False.

Crossfire host Newt Gingrich said that since 2007, "Texas has gained 440,000 people" while "Maryland has lost 20,000." O’Malley said that wasn’t right and countered that Maryland has added 230,000 people.

After digging into the statistics, we found they were looking at different measurements. O’Malley is right if you use overall population figures, while Gingrich is right if you look only at migration from other states. We rated Gingrich’s statement Half True.