Stop Dissin’ Texas on Jobs

APTOPIX Perry 2012

I know it's tempting.

I know Texas has it coming.

But Californians, starting with Gov. Jerry Brown, should resist the temptation to diss Texas on job growth.

Yes, Texas, and especially its dim-bulb governor, Rick Perry, have boasted for years about how their job growth surpasses that of California.

And yes, there's payback to be had in the most recent job numbers showing California now surpassing Texas and leading the nation in job creation over the past two months. The Golden State added more than 365,000 non-farm jobs over the last year, compared to Texas' 222,500.

But we should resist the temptation to do the sort of social-media touchdown dances that Brown and some Democrats have recently engaged in.

There are two reasons for caution:

First, California's job picture is still far from bright. The state still has unemployment well above 10 percent. So one reason for California's job growth is the depth of the hole out of which we're climbing. Given our current and past difficulties, it's no time to boast. And some of California's inland areas are badly hurting.

Second, boasting about job gains and state job comparisons has the potential to misinform the California public -- already a misinformed group -- about the nature of the state's economy and job challenges. For one thing, there is no real California economy -- the state is a collection of regional economies, some of which are doing well (Silicon Valley), some of which are not (Central Valley, Inland Empire).

Also, governors in particular should be sensitive to the idea of somehow linking their performance to job creation. There is very little evidence of a link between governorships and job creation, and so a governor who takes credit for good jobs news that he or she is not responsible for may end up taking blame for bad jobs news he or she's not responsible for.

So let's not break into the home run trot, just yet. California still needs to sprint.

Lead Prop Zero blogger Joe Mathews is California editor at Zocalo Public Square, a fellow at Arizona State University’s Center for Social Cohesion, and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (University of California, 2010).

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