The latest jobs report for Texas is replete with good news. November data shows strength across the economy and a new record for total state employment. In less than two years, Texas has completely overcome the devastating loss of about 1.5 million jobs that occurred in early 2020.
It is no exaggeration to say that I have seen millions of numbers every week since the late 1970s (comments regarding my social life are neither encouraged nor welcomed). On those rare occasions when one startles me, I can't help but mention it.
In early 2020, COVID-19 plunged the economy into freefall, abruptly reversing a historic expansion. Although the sharp declines only persisted for about two months, almost 1.5 million jobs disappeared across Texas. The loss of income and financial security for millions of families and small businesses added to the immeasurable human costs and tragic loss of life associated with the pandemic and measures required to slow its spread.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to significant economic disruption, but the Texas economy continues to recover. Recently released October data indicate that the seasonally adjusted Texas unemployment rate continues to fall and now stands at 5.4%. Texas added 56,600 jobs for the month and has almost recovered to pre-pandemic levels. While issues such as supply-chain challenges and inflation will likely linger over the coming months, the long-term outlook for the state remains favorable.
The concept of a Census to identify and enumerate the population of an area dates back more than 5,000 years. Accurate Census counts are important to ensuring adequate federal funding for various programs and appropriate representation in Congress. In addition, the Census is crucial to understanding population and demographic trends to plan for the future.
The Perryman Group's most recent long-term forecast for the US economy calls for notable expansion. Things have improved significantly since the worst of the pandemic, but previous activity levels have not yet been reached. The upward trend should continue (though business cycles are inevitable).
My dear friend, Pike Powers IV, recently succumbed to Parkinson's after a courageous struggle. Beyond the Austin area, you may not recognize his name, but he changed your life. He was the single most powerful force in turning Texas into an international technology powerhouse. His impact is unparalleled, and we are all beneficiaries.
Oil prices have regularly closed above $80 per barrel of late, something that hadn't happened since 2014. They've more than doubled in the past year and are a far cry from the doldrums of last spring. High oil prices ripple through the economy. More than half of the cost of gasoline is directly determined by oil prices, and most manufacturing and distribution involves some use of derivative fuels. Consumers are paying higher prices both directly at the pump and indirectly through other products.
Three Americans have received this year's Nobel Prize in Economics. One half went to David Card (University of California, Berkeley) "for his empirical contributions to labour economics," and the other half was awarded jointly to Joshua D. Angrist (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Guido W. Imbens (Stanford University) "for their methodological contributions to the analysis of causal relationships."