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U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett told ABC News on Aug. 11, 2011, that Gov. Rick Perry’s rosy depictions of employment conditions in Texas aren’t entirely accurate.
"Twenty-five states have lower unemployment than Texas does today," the Austin Democrat said, adding that "we're tied with Mississippi for more minimum-wage jobs than anywhere in the United States."
Is Texas middling in unemployment and tied with the Magnolia State for minimum-wage jobs?
Yes and yup.
According to the latest monthly state-by-state unemployment rates, posted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas’ seasonally adjusted June unemployment rate of 8.2 percent placed it 26th among the 50 states. North Dakota had the lowest rate, 3.2 percent. The most populous states faring better than Texas were Pennsylvania, ranked 18th (7.6 percent), and New York, which was 23rd (8 percent).
Regarding minimum-wage workers, the Austin American-Statesman said in a July 17 news article that Texas and Mississippi led the nation last year with 9.5 percent of hourly workers earning at or less than the federal minimum hourly wage of $7.25. Hourly workers aren’t the entire labor force, which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics defines as adults who are working plus those lately looking and available for work.
The Statesman story says that according to the bureau, 550,000 Texans earned no more than the minimum wage in 2010, and the number of Texas workers earning the federal minimum wage or less was greater than the totals for California, Florida and Illinois combined. In the story, Lori Taylor, an associate professor in the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, attributes the state’s lower wages to its having a younger, less educated workforce and a lower cost of living.
In March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said in an online post that nearly 5.8 million Texas workers were paid hourly rates in 2010, representing 55.7 percent of the state’s workers, a proportion that compares with 58.8 percent nationally. A bureau economist, Steven Haugen, told us in an interview that most other workers are salaried, though some work on commission or do piece work; the bureau doesn’t collect data on those workers’ pay rates, he said.
A table in the bureau’s post lists each state and its percentage of hourly workers paid at or below minimum wage (people who work for tips and worker younger than 20 are among those who can be paid less than minimum wage). Texas and Mississippi each had 9.5 percent of hourly workers paid at or less than minimum wage, tying for first among the states. Under Texas law, employers must pay workers the federal minimum wage.
Alabama and West Virginia, at 9.3 percent, were next highest, followed by Louisiana (8.9 percent), Oklahoma (8.6 percent), Georgia (8.5 percent), Tennessee (8.3 percent), Kentucky (8.1 percent) and Missouri (8 percent). Washington, which has a state minimum wage rate higher than the federal rate, had the lowest share of hourly workers paid at or below minimum wage, 1.1 percent.
In sheer numbers, Texas had 268,000 hourly workers earning minimum wage and 282,000 paid below the minimum wage, the bureau says, the most of any state by a wide margin. Almost 13 percent of the nation’s hourly workers paid at or below the minimum wage were in Texas, the second most-populous state with more than 25 million residents, or about 8 percent of the nation’s population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Mississippi, with almost 3 million residents, had 34,000 and 29,000 hourly workers, respectively, earning the minimum wage or less.
We rate Doggett’s statement True.
ABC News, blog post, ""Rep. Lloyd Doggett: A ‘President’ Rick Perry Would Have Americans Praying -- to Survive."
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, web posts, "Unemployment Rates for States," July 22, 2011; "MINIMUM WAGE WORKERS IN TEXAS - 2010," March 28, 2011
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