The Big Business of Small Businesses

Small businesses generate substantial economic activity. They cover the spectrum from new tech startup to well-established retailer, and it has long been acknowledged that they are important sources of new jobs (though early studies were overstated). The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tracks job gains and losses by firm size. As of the third quarter of 2016, firms with 1-49 employees had contributed 30% […]

Change is Coming!

The next few decades will bring major changes in the US labor market. The growth rate will slow and the labor force will become older and more diverse. The percentage of the population which is working will also continue to fall. The implications for businesses, the economy, and society are profound. Let’s look at a few of the major trends. Population growth will slow. There […]

A Free-Market, Common-Sense Approach to Immigration Reform

Markets are among mankind’s most powerful inventions. Although they have existed in some form for several millennia, it is only in the past few centuries that we have used them to organize entire economic systems. Once we turned them loose, we unleashed a period of global growth unlike anything that had come before. They are not perfect, but they are truly remarkable and, like most […]

Turning the Corner

Things are definitely looking up in the oil and gas business, with more rigs, more jobs, and more spending. The economic benefits of this activity are rippling through the economy, and that is definitely good news. It looks like we may have turned the corner back toward expansion, though there are some signals that the recovery may face some challenges. Across the country, mining added […]

The Economic and Fiscal Price of Restricting Bathroom Access

Travel and tourism is an important source of economic activity. Every year, millions of visitors to Texas spend billions of dollars in the state, and hundreds of thousands of individuals across Texas are employed in travel-related industries. I have studied travel and tourism in Texas on a number of occasions dating back more than 30 years. Recently, I estimated that when multiplier effects are considered, […]

Getting Back to Normal

It’s been almost a decade, but the Federal Reserve (Fed) is finally confident enough in the economy to begin actions to get back to normal after the “great recession.” This is good news, because getting the Fed’s balance sheet back in order is essential to future economic performance. As the global financial crisis unfolded beginning in 2007, the Federal Reserve stepped in to help lessen […]

100 Years Old and Just Getting Started

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has turned 100. Originally formed as the Texas Highway Department on April 4, 1917, by the 35th Legislature, TxDOT has become a vital part of our quality of life and economic growth. TxDOT now maintains more than 79,000 miles of farm-to-market, ranch-to-market, state, US, and interstate highways across the Lone Star State. TxDOT also takes care of more than […]


The US national debt has just topped $20 trillion. That’s 20 million millions or $20,000,000,000,000. It’s a large number, and people are (justifiably) concerned. While the federal government takes in taxes and other payments, these inflows aren’t enough to cover obligations ranging from national defense to health care to construction to wages. To make up the difference, the US Department of the Treasury sells US […]

Make that Five in a Row

The Lone Star State has once again prevailed in Site Selection Magazine’s “Governor’s Cup” competition. The Governor’s Cup goes to the state with the most major corporate location and expansion projects. To be counted, a project has to either involve a capital investment of at least $1 million, 20 or more new jobs, or 20,000 square feet of new construction. Texas had 642 major projects […]