Economist Ray Perryman, whose clients range from private companies to political activists, told Texas lawmakers last week that Texas has bounced back better than any state in the nation. “We’ve gained back roughly a million jobs,” he told the House Business and Industry Committee. “In contrast to everybody else, we’re doing very, very well.” Since Texas represents 8 percent of the nation’s economy, the state’s $1.3 trillion in economic activity and 5.7 percent unemployment rate are two of the reasons the country is no longer in a recession. Perryman told lawmakers the oil and gas boom is different than the one in the late 1970s that led to the state’s worst modern recession in 1982. Back then, Texas oil and gas revenues skyrocketed because of troubles with OPEC, Iran and other Middle Eastern strife, not due to demand or increased production.
Texas oil and gas production peaked in the early 1980s at 1.2 billion barrels a year, but Perryman said few people realized that the higher prices were temporary. When other oil-producing nations boosted production, prices dropped and the Texas economy went down with them. The hit to the Texas state budget was so extreme that lawmakers created the rainy day fund to be ready if another economic bust hit the state. The comptroller’s office predicts that fund will have $12 billion in it by the end of the 2014-2015 biennium.