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By W. Gardner Selby June 8, 2015

UPDATED: Rick Perry says Texas created 1.5 million jobs in seven years, rest of country down 400,000

Addressing supporters in an airport hangar in Addison, Perry said that on his watch, companies in Texas created almost one third of all new American jobs. And, he said,  "in the last seven years of my tenure, Texas created 1.5 million new jobs. As a matter of fact, without Texas, America would have lost 400,000 jobs."

Sounded familiar.

In May 2013, we found True a Perry claim about Texas accounting for 33 percent of the country’s net new jobs over the last 10 years. That conclusion was supported by comparing state-by-state job gain estimates and a separate calculation of net job gains nationally, both by the federal government.


Later, in January 2015, we rated Mostly True Perry’s statement that starting in December 2007, "1.4 million jobs were created in Texas. In that same period, the rest of the country lost 400,000 jobs." His figures mostly held up according to household surveys by the federal government looking into civilian employment including self-employment, though at the time positions not yet recovered outside Texas totaled closer to 350,000, according to the latest available data when Perry spoke to lawmakers Jan. 22, 2015.


When we looked at the earlier Texas-nation comparison by Perry, his spokesman encouraged us to consult Mark J. Perry, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan campus in Flint.


Professor Perry wrote in a November 2014 online commentary that from December 2007, the start of the national recession, through October 2014, Texas saw civilian employment balloon by 1.36 million jobs. "In contrast," he wrote, "civilian employment in the other 49 states without Texas is still 0.26% and more than 350,000 jobs below the December 2007 level … there were 134.9 million non-Texas jobs in October vs. 135.26 million in December 2007."


To our query, the scholar emailed a chart showing that based on what the government calls "total employment," covering all jobs including self-employed posts, Texas had 1,410,400 more jobs in November 2014 than it had in December 2007 while the rest of the country had 352,440 fewer jobs.


Total employment, he said, serves as a comprehensive indicator and is used to calculate unemployment rates.


A little more: The BLS says the definition of employment in the federal household survey, which the governor relied on for his comparisons, "comprises wage and salary workers (including domestics and other private household workers), self-employed persons and unpaid workers who worked 15 hours or more during the reference week in family-operated enterprises. Employment in both agricultural and nonagricultural industries is included."


In contrast, the federal government's oft-quoted payroll survey of employers "covers only wage and salary employees on the payrolls of nonfarm establishments." By this other metric, Cheryl Abbot, a regional economist for the bureau, told us, Texas netted 1.2 million additional jobs from December 2007 to December 2014. In the period, she said, 24 states had net decreases in total civilian employment.


But again, those figures weren’t total employment, the indicator chosen by Perry.


After Perry declared for president, we circled back to Abbot, who emailed us data indicating that from December 2007 to December 2014, Texas saw an increase in total employment of 1,572,694; the nation as a whole had a surge of 1,169,000. Put another way, but for Texas, the nation would have experienced a total employment decrease of 403,694.


When we looked into Perry’s seven-year contrast before, analyst David Cooper of the liberal Economic Policy Institute commented that the timeframe singled out by Perry may deliver a more glowing contrast for Texas than other periods. According to the government’s payroll surveys, he said, the country had added 9.1 million jobs since June 2009, the acknowledged end of the national recession, with Texas accounting for 1.5 million of the additions. Significantly, he said, the rest of the country as a whole lost jobs from June 2009 until February 2010. Since then, he said, the U.S. had added more than 10 million jobs with Texas (again) accounting for more than 1 million of them.


At the time, Professor Perry said that in his view, the best comparison of Texas to the rest of the nation starts in December 2007. His point: "Texas never experienced significant job losses during the Great Recession, while the rest of the country did," he emailed. "Therefore, comparing job gains since June 2009 or Feb. 2010 really won’t make much sense. Of course the non-Texas US gained a lot of jobs since June 2009, and more than Texas, but that’s because Texas never lost any (very many) jobs in 2008 and 2009 like the rest of the country. Texas is a great economic success story, and an anomaly vs. the rest of the country regarding job losses/gains," he wrote.


Also at the time, Abbot said by email Perry’s claim could have been precise by referring to "total civilian employment" rather than jobs. That said, as of November 2014, Abbot said, 24 other states had yet to reach pre-recession employment levels. "On a statewide basis, Texas by far leads all states, with total civilian employment growth of 1,410,440. California is a distant second with civilian (household) employment growth of 452,763," Abbot wrote.


Our ruling


Perry said: "In the last seven years of my tenure, Texas created 1.5 million new jobs. As a matter of fact, without Texas, America would have lost 400,000 jobs."


These figures hold up though Perry cherry-picked a time period arguably giving Texas more of a gloss than it might get with other periods. More generally, no governor determines job gains or losses in a state; outside factors tend to prevail. In Texas, the fracking boom comes to mind. Governors don’t create oil and gas fields.


We rate this claim Mostly True.


MOSTLY TRUE – The statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information.


CORRECTION, 12:40 p.m., June 18, 2015: This fact check was revised to correct our error in quoting an email from Cheryl Abbot of the BLS. This change, clarifying that 24 states had net decreases in civilian employment in the period singled out by Perry, did not affect our rating.

Our Sources

Truth-O-Meter articles, "Rick Perry says Texas accounted for 33 percent of nation's net job gains over the past decade," PolitiFact Texas, May 9, 2013;  "Rick Perry says Texas gained a million jobs while rest of country lost 400,000," PolitiFact Texas, Jan. 22, 2015

Telephone interviews, David Cooper, economic analyst, Economic Policy Institute, Washington, D.C., Jan. 15, 2015


Emails, Felix Browne, communications director, Gov. Rick Perry, Jan. 15, 2015


Online commentary, "An amazing chart of an amazing job-creating state; we owe a debt of gratitude to ‘Saudi Texas’ and the shale boom,"  Mark. J. Perry, scholar, The American Enterprise Institute, professor of Finance and Business Economics, School of Management, University of Michigan-Flint, Nov. 21, 2014


Emails, Mark. J. Perry, scholar, The American Enterprise Institute, professor of Finance and Business Economics, School of Management, University of Michigan-Flint, Jan. 15, 2015

Web page, "Local Area Unemployment Statistics, Differences Between Data Series," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, last updated Oct. 16, 2001 (accessed Jan. 21, 2015)

Emails, Cheryl Abbot, regional economist, Chief, Economic Analysis & Information, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Dallas, Jan. 15-16, 2015

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by W. Gardner Selby

UPDATED: Rick Perry says Texas created 1.5 million jobs in seven years, rest of country down 400,000

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