Our latest projections indicate that both large and small Texas metropolitan areas are on track to experience notable employment growth over a long-term forecast horizon. While temporary fluctuations are inevitable, the population centers of the state are well-positioned for expansion over an extensive period.
Despite incessant headwinds, the Texas economy has been performing quite well, regaining ground lost during the COVID-19 shutdowns and then some. In fact, the increase in Texas jobs between February 2020 (just before the pandemic) and October 2022 represents more than 80% of the net gain in the entire country. While the state is well positioned to remain formidable, there are daunting challenges. Let's take a brief gaze into the long-term horizon.
Job openings in Texas as of September reached an all-time high at 1,026,000. According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the state has once again topped one million openings after a few months below that level (initially reached in June).
Every year, the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts prepares a document detailing the financial status of the State of Texas. The 2022 report (for the fiscal year ended August 31) was recently released. It paints an interesting picture that is well worth exploring.
World population recently reached the eight billion milestone according to estimates from the United Nations. That's up from about 2.5 billion people in 1950, with a gain of a billion since 2010. However, population growth rates are falling, and the total will likely peak at around 10.4 billion in the 2080s.
Gazing out over the next few decades, I see at least three major challenges confronting the US economy. First, we have to overcome the consequences of the lingering effects of the pandemic, including getting inflation under control, dealing with the inevitable fallout that effort will involve, and working through ongoing supply chain disruptions. Second, we must confront the chronic worker shortages. Third, we need to fashion a realistic energy policy which both meets climate goals and provides for future essential resources (more on that another time).
The rate on 30-year mortgages has topped 7% for the first time in more than 20 years. The sharp rise from about 3% just a year ago is causing fallout for homebuyers and the housing market. While the current situation is going to be costly from several perspectives, a market crash akin to the Great Recession of 2008 is NOT in our future. Let’s briefly explore.
Recently released test scores show that Texas public schools fared better than many through the pandemic, though ground was clearly lost. In a recent column, I examined scores from the National Center for Education Statistics which indicate the declines in averages at a national level; now, we have the state level data.
In the aftermath of World War I, Congress enacted The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (commonly known as the Jones Act after its foremost proponent, Senator Wesley R. Jones from Washington). Essentially, the law requires that any cargo shipped between US ports must be shipped on vessels that are US built, owned, and crewed. It was designed to support the US maritime industry, but it's a protectionist measure leading to a variety of concerns. It has long outlived its usefulness (to the extent it ever had any).