The US Census Bureau recently released the 2020 Census estimated undercount and overcount rates from its Post-Enumeration Survey. The results indicate that the Texas population was undercounted by 1.92%.
The recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia is generating questions regarding how important Russia is to the Texas economy, particularly as policies restricting trade and investment interactions are implemented or contemplated. While no area can escape the near-term disruptive effects related to the supply chain and inflation, the specific effects on business activity within the state are relatively minor. The Perryman Group recently analyzed patterns in Texas-Russia trade and investment to assess the extent of the linkages and related economic effects.
Every day, thousands of trucks cross the Texas-Mexico border, bringing a variety of goods ranging from fruits and vegetables to electronic equipment. Cross-border supply chains are common, and manufacturing facilities on both sides of the border depend on the efficient flow of products across the border. The recent slowdowns due to additional inspections disrupted these patterns, resulting in not only spoilage of perishable items, but also production delays. Given the strained capacity at the border in normal times, it will be difficult and, in many instances, impossible to “catch up.”
As space travel became a realistic possibility, a “space race” developed, with the United States pitted against Russia to be the first to achieve milestones such as orbiting the earth and landing on the moon. Americans were glued to television screens in July 1969 as Neil Armstrong became the first human to step on the moon, and every previous and subsequent milestone has been the subject of intense interest among people in all walks of life. Texas was an integral part of this phenomenon and it left an indelible imprint on the culture and personality of the state.
Texas has recently seen a sharp upswing in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. This spike has caused substantial disruptions and hardships to families across the state (including many children), compromised safety as schools seek to reopen and address the massive educational gap that has surfaced during the pandemic, and added further strain to an already fragile healthcare complex. Despite these concerns, there has been massive resistance by policymakers to sensible and basic protective measures, such as appropriate masking requirements and measures to encourage higher vaccination rates. In addition to these obvious consequences, this approach is also resulting in preventable losses to the economy through reduced employment and decreases in productivity. The Perryman Group (TPG) has recently quantified these adverse effects.
Laws which restrict voter access can have substantial negative economic consequences due to lost earnings and related reductions in consumer spending. In addition, irrespective of their stated purpose, controversial laws can also lead to reductions in travel and tourism and economic development.
The recent extreme winter weather is unprecedented in Texas. Records were shattered, and the demands on the power grid were exceptional. When brutal conditions took down about 40% of generation capacity (wind turbines and conventional plants alike), disaster struck. Most people had to deal with power outages (sometimes for days in freezing temperatures) and millions had no water (again for an extended period).
The most recent employment data indicates that the pace of hiring in Texas has slowed. In September, 40,700 net new jobs were added, compared to 111,900 in August. Moreover, the unemployment rate rose and is now higher than the national level. While this slowing is not good news, it was not unexpected.
Category 4 Hurricane Laura made landfall just after midnight on August 27, 2020 in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, about 35 miles east of the Texas border. While the damage was significant, the economic costs could have been far worse. The Perryman Group estimates that if the storm had made landfall as a direct hit on one of the nearby refining and petrochemical areas (such as Beaumont), the economic losses could have been 8 to 10 times as large as preliminary damage estimates have indicated.
May and June jobs reports for Texas and the state's largest metropolitan areas were encouraging and reflect the fact that as businesses began to reopen, what was essentially a sound economy before the pandemic responded relatively quickly. Nonetheless, employment remains well below pre-COVID-19 levels. The Perryman Group's latest forecast calls for significant year-over-year losses for 2020, but notable recovery next year. If additional interruptions are required as a result of the recent surge in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in Texas, the annual declines will escalate.