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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke September 30, 2010

Bill White says Texas has a higher unemployment rate than neighboring states

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Bill White has charged Gov. Rick Perry with taking undue credit for Texas job growth and ducking the limelight when the economy looks bleak.

Earlier this month, we rated True Perry's boast in a TV ad that Texas has created more jobs than the other states combined.

"Does he accept responsibility for one million Texans unemployed and a higher unemployment rate than neighboring states?" White asked in a Sept. 27 e-mail.

White's hammered the number of unemployed Texans before — in March, we rated True his claim that nearly 1 million Texans were unemployed, a state record. As of August, the number of unemployed crept up to 1,004,388, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. We wondered whether Texas has a higher unemployment rate than neighboring states.

So we consulted the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which tracks unemployment data in each state, to see how Texas compared to the four states it borders: New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

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In August, Texas and New Mexico had an unemployment rate of 8.3 percent, followed by Louisiana (7.6 percent), Arkansas (7.5 percent), and Oklahoma (7 percent).

Cheryl Abbot, an economist at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Dallas, confirmed that Texas had a higher unemployment rate than three of the four adjacent states, and noted that "nearby states" Colorado and Kansas also had a lower rate (8.2 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively).

Next, we looked at Augusts past starting in 2001, Perry's first full year in the governor's office. We found that Oklahoma and Louisiana have had lower unemployment rates, and until this year, New Mexico had a lower unemployment rate than Texas. Arkansas had a higher unemployment rate than Texas in 2006 to 2008.

Nationally, the unemployment rate was 9.6 percent in August. Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia had higher unemployment rates than Texas.

Upshot: In August, Texas had a higher unemployment rate than Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, but not New Mexico.

We rate White's statement as Mostly True.

Our Sources

Texans for Bill White, Press release: White challenges Perry to answer to small businesses, the unemployed, Sept. 27, 2010

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local area unemployment statistics, accessed Sept. 28, 2010

E-mail interview with Katy Bacon, communications director, Bill White for Texas, Sept. 27, 2010

E-mail interview with Cheryl Abbot, economist, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in Dallas, Sept. 29, 2010

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Bill White says Texas has a higher unemployment rate than neighboring states

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