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The State of the State of Texas

What does the pandemic impact really look like for the State of Texas? Key trends and responses to the economic, health, and lifestyle shocks presented by COVID-19.

September 24, 2020

As the pandemic continues to affect the health and economic well-being of communities all over the state, having accurate and up-to-date metrics allows regional, state, and local organizations to make evidence-based decisions for the future.

The State of The State of Texas Report is an overview of the economic challenges and opportunities in the state of Texas as of September, 2020. The report contains detailed information about opportunities and challenges facing the state on different levels, by economic sectors, regions, effects on urban centers versus non-metro areas, and comparisons to other states. We hope this compilation is used as a source of information for Texans to be well-informed about the pandemic’s impact on their own state and provide valuable information to encourage leaders at all levels to use data to seek out opportunities and plan for the future.

This is an unprecedented time. The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to continue for months, and the long-term effects could last for years. With IC² Institute’s focus on smaller and remote communities, we note that these areas, compared to larger urban centers, have certain vulnerabilities which pose different risks from the COVID-19 impact. However, we see this time as an opportunity for communities to take stock and prepare to rethink, redesign, and recover from the economic and health crises that affect our state, nation and world.

The State of the State of Texas report
Click on the image to download the full report.

A preview of some of the data and findings: 

  • SIZE: Its sheer SIZE ranks TEXAS as 10th largest economy globally, surpassing Canada and South Korea and just below Brazil and Italy. The State of Texas has consistently grown economically with a diverse GDP base over the past years despite recessions. Its size and diverse economic base have allowed for more resilience during the pandemic shock.
  • Almost all sectors see less dramatic job losses due to COVID-19 in TEXAS compared to U.S.
  • Public employment accounts for over 15% or 1 out of 6 working Texans, with local government employing nearly 11% of the workforce, i.e. 1 out 10 Texans.
  • Public sector job loss since February in Texas is one of the highest in the nation, impacting smaller, local economies hardest. California and Texas have experienced the most public-sector job losses since February: 229,000 (-9.6%) and 112,100 (-6.3%), respectively.
  • Trade, Transportation, Utilities (20%), Pro & Biz Services (14%) and Edu & Health (14%) employee nearly half of Texas’ workforce. In contrast, manufacturing, construction, mining/logging (2%, which includes oil & gas) total only 15% of goods produced.
  • 2019 ended with 10% fewer Texans working in mining & logging sector, which includes the oil and gas business. These pre-pandemic losses are now amplified with the energy sector shock.
  • Beyond urban centers and corridors in TEXAS, broadband access is spotty and insufficient.
  • Many rural hospitals have closed in the last decade, putting the elderly rural population at greater risk.
  • TEXAS Leading Index, a tailored indicator for the State, shows the recent drastic decline levels comparable to the recession of 2008 (longer term) but with a flatter recovery and uptick.
  • Based on data through August 15, 2020, TEXAS Leading Index took a step backward during the week ending August 15, reversing the increasing trend of the previous two weeks (Figures 1 and 2). This signals a slowing in the pace of the economic recovery.
  • As of July 19, 2020, total consumer spending in Texas decreased by 6.7% compared to January 2020. Certain counties in Texas recorded >45% reductions.

  • Oil prices contracted rapidly after pandemic with decreased demand and over supply compounded by international energy politics but have stabilized since May. Natural gas prices continue to be stable.
  • Trend appears to highlight higher impact of pandemic-induced energy crisis on producing counties, with less impact on processing counties.
  • Business ownership dramatically declined.  Black-owned businesses declined by 41% and LatinX businesses by 32%.
  • Despite the fluctuations of the state and national economies, businesses and their employees have continued to migrate to Texas, attracted by its high quality of life, lower cost of living, and business-friendly tax and regulatory structure. However, migration favors urban over rural areas.  The “big four” urban regions of Texas must deal with the problems of fast growth, while many rural communities face decreasing populationMigration from outside of Texas is fueling unprecedented urbanization and sharpening the demographics divide between rural & urban.

Rural communities—in Texas and globally—face more vulnerabilities during the pandemic.  Factors:  older populations, distances to medical facilities, less diversified economies, supply-chain issues, and less digital connectivity.

Download the full report below.

The State of the State of Texas report
Click on the image for the full report.

For more information on the IC2 Institute or how to get involved with REGIONAL ECONOMIC RECOVERY INITIATIVE, please contact us at: info@ic2.utexas.edu.