Texas is one of only 12 states that have not yet chosen to expand health insurance coverage to low-income adults using the financially attractive mechanism created with passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010. In addition to enhancing the health and wellbeing of individuals directly affected, expanding health insurance coverage involves substantial economic and fiscal benefits.
The educational opportunities offered by The University of Texas Permian Basin enhance employment prospects for students and improve the regional workforce and economic development potential. In fulfilling its primary role, UT Permian Basin generates a significant economic stimulus as well as incremental tax receipts. The University provides direct well-paying jobs, engages in major projects, and supports important research. Graduates are essential to the current and future business complex and enhance the competitiveness of the area. These activities contribute to the economy of the local area, region, state, and nation.
Texas has been one of the strongest performing states in the US for a number of years, attracting more major corporate locations and expansions than any other and regularly topping lists of the best places to do business. As examples, the state has won the "Governor's Cup" for the most major projects for the past eight consecutive years and was recently named the "State of the Decade" by Site Selection magazine.
Through their joint mission of providing top-quality health care and training for medical professionals, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler (UTHSCT) and UT Health East Texas (UTHET) generate a substantial increase in business activity and benefit the entire region in multiple ways. In addition to providing care for tens of thousands of patients each year, they provide jobs, procure needed goods and services, prepare health professionals (many of whom remain in the area), and conduct meaningful research, resulting in significant economic benefits.
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.
The US Supreme Court recently ruled to preserve DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA allows individuals who came to the US as children to remain under certain conditions and was implemented in 2012. Since that time, about 800,000 people have received protection under the act, which requires that recipients either be in school or be employed. Although the decision does not permanently secure the program, it provides critical near-term security to the affected group.
The Perryman Group's most recent economic projections for the US and Texas incorporate the potential effects of COVID-19. The forecast calls for significant losses this year, but a fairly rapid recovery is expected once the worst virus issues have passed.
The Perryman Group's most recent economic projections for Texas' largest metropolitan areas incorporate the potential effects of COVID-19 and the downturn in the energy sector. Like the US and Texas, these population centers will see significant losses this year, but a fairly rapid recovery once the worst virus issues have passed. The economic fallout will be significant for each, with the degree of decline and speed of recovery influenced by the differing concentrations of industries across population centers. The downturn, while sharp and painful, will likely be more of a pause than a fundamental change.