Rick Perry Created Thousands of Jobs For Immigrants

Filed under: Immigration Law & Employment,Legal,News,The Economy |

GOP presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry points to job growth in Texas during the current economic downturn as one of his primary accomplishments.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Texas Gov. Rick Perry

But an analysis of Current Population Survey (CPS) data collected by the Census Bureau shows that immigrants, legal and illegal, have been the primary beneficiaries of job growth in Texas since 2007, taking 81% of the jobs created even though native-born Americans accounted for the majority of working-age population (age 16 to 65) growth, according to to a study by the Center for Immigration Studies. Among the study’s other findings:

  • Of jobs created in Texas since 2007, 81% were taken by newly arrived immigrant workers (legal and illegal).
  • In terms of numbers, between the second quarter of 2007, right before the recession began, and the second quarter of 2011, total employment in Texas increased by 279,000. Of this, 225,000 jobs went to immigrants (legal and illegal) who arrived in the United States in 2007 or later.
  • Of newly arrived immigrants who took a job in Texas, 93% were not U.S. citizens. Thus government data show that more than three-fourths of net job growth in Texas were taken by newly arrived non-citizens (legal and illegal).
  • The large share of job growth that went to immigrants is surprising because the native-born accounted for 69% of the growth in Texas’ working-age population (16 to 65). Thus, even though natives made up most of the growth in potential workers, most of the job growth went to immigrants.
  • The share of working-age natives holding a job in Texas declined significantly, from 71% in 2007 to 67% in 2011. This decline is very similar to the decline for natives in the United States as a whole and is an indication that the situation for native-born workers in Texas is very similar to the overall situation in the country despite the state’s job growth.
  • Of newly arrived immigrants who took jobs in Texas since 2007, we estimate that 50% (113,000) were illegal immigrants. Thus, about 40% of all the job growth in Texas since 2007 went to newly arrived illegal immigrants and 40 percent went to newly arrived legal immigrants.
  • Immigrants took jobs across the educational distribution. More than one out three (97,000) of newly arrived immigrants who took a job had at least some college.

The study pointed out that:

(M)any immigrants are more educated. When we look at the number of newly-arrived immigrants in Texas, we find that 43.2 percent (97,000) of those that took a job in Texas had at least some college. If we look at the net gain in employment among more educated immigrants, rather than new arrivals, the growth was 53,000, which means that more-educated workers accounted for one-third of the net growth in immigrant employment. Thus it would a mistake to assume that immigrants are only competing for jobs at the bottom end of the labor market.

From ProPublica:

What did Perry actually do during his decade-long stint as Texas governor? One of Perry’s most-touted accomplishments as governor has been job creation. In his presidential announcement speech, he said:

Since June of 2009, Texas is responsible for more than 40% of all of the new jobs created in America. Now think about that. We’re home to less than 10% of the population in America, but 40% of all the new jobs were created in that state.

But it’s unclear to what extent Perry’s policy decisions were responsible for creating those jobs. The Austin American-Statesman lays out all the factors that went into Texas’ economic success over the past few years. Yahoo! News took a closer look at jobs data and found holes in Perry’s narrative that limited regulation of business was the major driver of Texas’ economic growth. Yahoo! and others have noted that part of the growth was driven by the state and local governments, which have actually added many jobs.

The National Journal has an overview of Perry’s performance on the economy, education and health insurance, accompanied by some useful charts. The Journal found that Texas still has a high poverty rate, despite the strong jobs figures, and that the state’s high-school graduation rates are below the national average. The contributors to Ezra Klein’s blog put together a series of critical posts evaluating Perry’s record on balancing the budget, creating jobs, Medicaid and the environment. Perry’s PolitiFact report card shows a mixed record when it comes to making accurate statements.

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