Lisa A. Bastian (Oct/Nov 09)
Compared to the rest of the nation, Texas is faring very well in these uncertain economic times. Amazingly, just last year, 70 percent of all new American jobs were created in Texas. Then the recession shocked the entire nation, and in the 12 months ending July 2009, Texas lost 222,000 jobs. The good news is that although the state's economy slowed late in 2008, its gross product expanded almost twice as fast as the U.S. economy - 2 percent versus 1.1 percent - from January to December 2008.
Fast-forward a bit and look at indicators released this past July. Employment figures showed Texas gaining 37,900 jobs and reporting an unemployment rate 1.5 percent below the U.S. rate. (The state's unemployment rate has been at or below the national rate for 31 consecutive months.) Also in July, seven of the state's 11 major industries experienced payroll expansions over the month, with the largest monthly gain in professional and business services. Moreover, Texas has not had to raise taxes or cut services as the majority of other states have done.
State economic development officials say this shows that Texas is the first state to "recover" from the nationwide financial upheaval. Large investments and substantial numbers of jobs continue to flow inside the United States' second-largest state. Many represent key sectors, ranging from advanced technology and manufacturing, energy, aerospace, and defense, to information technology, biotech and life sciences, and petroleum refining and chemical products.
In August, Toyota Motor Corporation confirmed rumors that by summer 2010, it will relocate production of the Tacoma pickup from its California plant to its state-of-the-art San Antonio manufacturing facility. Up to 1,100 new workers could be added to the Alamo City's payroll. In May, Minneapolis-based Medtronic, a leader in advanced diabetes management solutions, announced that San Antonio will be home for its new 150,000-square-foot diabetes center, expected to hire about 1,400 professionals over a five-year period. And last December, Caterpillar announced plans to move one of its main global assembly, test and paint facilities to Seguin. The project will add another 1,400 jobs to the economy and generate $169.7 million in capital investment.
The Texas Enterprise Fund - the biggest deal-closing fund of its kind in the nation - has certainly boosted state inward investment efforts. Its grants are given to emerging technology projects helping make Texas more globally competitive.