Texas has top cities for finding good jobs
Earlier this month, Texas Gov. Rick Perry made a quick tour of California to remind business owners that life’s a whole lot easier in the Lone Star State. Perry’s California critics called him “Governor Oops” for his miscues during the presidential debates, and Gov. Jerry Brown dismissed the Texan’s recruiting drive as “not a burp,” and barely even a certain bodily release of gas.Fort Worth and San Antonio also make the list. Dallas has always been a finance based city while Houston gets much of its growth from the energy business. Austin is growing with tech companies and San Antonio is getting a lot of the growth from the Eagle Ford shale development as well as trade with Mexico. Dallas and Fort Worth have pretty much grown into each other and San Antonio and Austin are doing the same. Houston used strip annexation to control the growth and later annex much of it as the subdivisions matured.
Laugh away, Californians. But Perry is playing the stronger hand here. Texas trounced the rest of the country our latest survey of the Best Cities for Good Jobs, with five metropolitan areas in the Top Ten, including the four best cities to find jobs in the next few years.
(See Also: How We Picked The Best Cities For Jobs)
This year’s winner is Dallas, which shrugged off the Nov. 2011 bankruptcy of American Airlines parentAMR Corp. to rack up 2.1% job growth last year and is projected to continue adding jobs at a 2.8% rate through 2019 – more than 300,000 on top of the 2.1 million already in Dallas and its Plano and Irving suburbs.
The Moody’s data show that Texans didn’t suffer as much in the financial crisis, and they’re doing much better now. The Texas unemployment rate rose from below 5% in 2007 all the way to a little above 8% in 2010, but now it’s falling back down again to a current 6.2%. The U.S. unemployment rate peaked at 10% and is still stuck at about 8%, with states like California, Illinois and New York well above that.
“You’ve got these two economic powerhouses, Texas and California, and you have to ask why we are outperforming,” Weinstein said. “It’s a real testament to the diversity and strength of our economy, that through good times and bad we are outperforming the nation.”
One explanation that is definitely false: Texas isn’t growing on the backs of underpaid, non-union workers. While Texas is a right-to-work state, many of the highest paying jobs in the Dallas area are with unionized defense manufacturers like Bell Helicopter and Lockheed Martin, which produces the F-35 Lightning II fighter at a mile-long plant in Fort Worth.
Asked about the state’s reputation for union-busting and low-wage jobs, Dallas Federal Reserve Economist Pia Orrenius said “we get a lot of that.”
“People say it’s all low-pay jobs, so I looked at employment growth by wage quartile,” she said. And guess what? Not only is the Dallas-area per-capita income of $39,548 comfortably above the national average of $37,000, but it’s growing fastest in the top half of wages above $16 an hour.
Dallas doesn’t have the booming energy industry of Houston – No. 2 on the list with expected 5-year job growth of 2.6% a year – but it has a prosperous and growing financial and professional-services sector. Bank of America has large back-office operations in the Dallas area and the city is home to large law and accounting firms as well as professionals who serve the energy industry. “Those are your extremely high paying jobs,” Orrenius said, paying an average of $28 an hour.
The relatively higher wages in Dallas are what pushed it to the top of the list, but for raw growth the Austin area wins at No. 2 in the nation with an expected 5-year annual growth rate of 3.9%. (No. 1 was Honolulu, which but for recent hiccups in its job market and lackluster projected income growth would be in the Top 10 overall). Austin is sucking in high-tech jobs from more expensive California and struggling to keep up with growth in demand for houses and roads.
“The hottest place to be in Texas is Austin,” said Orrenius. “They’re just booming.”