Employment update: Texas employment growth

There is nothing I enjoy more than reading through spreadsheets of employment data. And I am certainly not being sarcastic here, this is the life of a nerd.

Part of the reason I enjoy reading through them so much is that when you deal with sector-level classification schemes (the North American Industrial Classification System, NAICS, is the one with which I have the most experience from my graduate work), you encounter some very funny occupations. They are funny, on one hand, because so many occupations are activities that you though were obsolete already, and there is something a little funny about the past (buggy-drivers, for instance, are a little funny; see what I mean?). On the other hand, they are funny in the way that bureaucracy is funny, like what you would read in Kafka or see in Terry Gilliam movie. Bureaucrats are uptight and fussy, which is pretty funny when you think about it; and you definitely get a sense of that fussiness reading through these spreadsheets.

As a short example, I’ve got in a figure below the ten industry sectors that grew the most in terms of employment in Texas from the third quarter of 2009 to the third quarter of 2013, and the ten sectors that contracted the most. This is mainly due to the influence of the book I am currently reading at the moment, Rough Country by R Wuthnow about the role of religion in Texas history. I am routinely sidetracked by my thoughts while reading, and this blog post follows one of the occasions.

Here are the largest contractions.

Contracting Industries NAICS Emp 2009 Emp 2013 Chg
Funds, Trusts, and Other Financial Vehicles 525 8356 78 -0.9906654
Electronics and Appliance Stores 443 38704 5352 -0.8617197
Rail Transportation 482 74 46 -0.3783784
Private Households 814 21290 16544 -0.2229216
Motion Picture and Sound Recording Industries 521 2026 1584 -0.2181639
Broadcasting (except Internet) 515 22571 18789 -0.1675601
Administration of Human Resource Programs 923 36668 32386 -0.1167776
Printing and Related Support Activities 323 29100 25732 -0.1157388
Apparel Manufacturing 315 4894 4370 -0.1070699
Publishing Industries (except Internet) 511 44231 40151 -0.092243

Some comments. I find it hard to believe the figures for 525; this must have something to do with counting error, which I’ve encountered a few times elsewhere in NAICS statistics. Second largest drop: electronics stores. That’s RadioShack, I guess. What’s incredible is the drop: from 38 thousand to five thousand! That is low-skilled service work after all, so ostensibly those workers can find jobs in other retail activities, although that isn’t much of a consolation. There are five thousand fewer people working in private households, so it seems that the wealthy have cut back on their excesses, out of solidarity with the working classes no doubt. Also four thousand cut from Administration of Human Resource Programs; so the rationalizers were rationalized. Printing also by four thousand. This classification is a little ironic; as printing of papers declines, printing of materials is growing (3-D), but it really seems to be evolving into just another large electronic item you would buy for your house, like a washing machine or entertainment system. Finally, Publishing Industries (except Internet) also declined by about four thousand. Several sectors include the “excluding the Internet” qualifier; economic history in the making.

Here are the largest positive employment changes.

Growth Industries NAICS Emp 2009 Emp 2013 Chg
Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing 332 116206 138366 0.1906958
Oil and Gas Extraction 211 89965 107668 0.1967765
Securites, Commodity Contracts, and Other Financial Investmens and Related Activities 523 49272 62066 0.2596607
Machinery Manufacturing 333 86382 109960 0.2729504
Truck Transportation 484 104578 134310 0.2843045
Forestry and Logging 114 415 535 0.2891566
Wholesale Electronic Markets and Agents and Brokers 425 58507 75664 0.293247
Support Activities for Mining 213 100794 177155 0.7575947
Sporting Goods, Hobby, Book and Music Stores 451 39248 72612 0.8500815
Postal Service 491 325 856 1.633846

Some comments. These are mostly big industries. I notice that Texas has a lot of people in manufacturing (about 130 thousand in fabricated metal and another 100 thousand in metal machinery). It sure has an enormous pool of skilled labor, which is even more interesting in the context of it being a right-to-work state; how many of these workers are members of a union? What are their wages? What is the level of labor turnover? Oil and gas extraction as well as mining support together make up over another quarter of a million workers; all growing after crisis by significant amounts. Yet another very large sector with skilled and highly regulated/licensed labor is truck transportation; obviously on account of US trade with Mexico and the great amount of industrial production. The securities sector has also expanded by leaps and bounds, in the wake, oddly enough, of a major financial panic. I suspect mostly this labor is located in Dallas and perhaps Houston. Maybe this has something to do with fracking as well, as big oil is hugely preoccupied with risk management through financial markets. Fracking boom in Texas may translate into risk management boom as well. FInally, I am slightly relieved by the expansion in Sporting Goods, Hobby, Book, and Music Stores–hopefully the workers displaced from Electronic Goods Stores have found their way into these stores, which hopefully will enjoy a long life. Unless Amazon wipes them out first.

In short, quite a story of economic success. These figures give an interesting insight into why Texas has prospered after the crash. That story still needs to be developed.

I place a lot of value in government statistics like employment figures because as an undergraduate, I majored in Near Eastern archaeology. Being able to read into the lives of past civilizations is so worthwhile; you get such a sense of that when you have an idea as to what people were doing and how they were organized. It’s hard to make historical employment and economic figures interesting, but economic history is fascinating.


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