By Dr. Vance Ginn & Mary Katherine McNabb
The Texas Comptroller recently released an interactive website to score all 50 states on various metrics during multiple years that can be used to evaluate each state or compare them among others. We applaud the Comptroller for making this valuable website available.
Texas tops the list for the best place to “do business” based on factors such as taxation, regulation, workforce quality, and living environment. Texas ranks the second highest for “making a living.” Texas places 3rd for creating the highest percentage of jobs at 19.8 percent but created the most jobs with 1.8 million during the 2003 to 2013 period.
The Comptroller’s office concludes from these “business and opportunity” data: “On the whole, Texas has earned its reputation for business friendliness. It’s one of the best states for business and also a great place to make a living.”
In other areas, Texas ranks 11th highest for entrepreneurial activity, which shows the drive by Texans to start their own business in a conducive economic environment. Contributing to Texans having additional funds to start their own business or save for a rainy day, Texas ranks as having the 15th lowest cost of living.
Texas is in the top 10 for the highest changes in both average wage and per capita personal income. Slightly outside the top 10 ranking, Texas’ gross domestic product per capita ranks 15th highest, average annual wages is 12th highest, and the unemployment rate is 15th lowest.
The state falls exactly average with its rank of 25th for per capita income; however, this doesn’t consider the fact that Texas has a relatively low cost of living letting each dollar of income go further than many other states.
The Comptroller concludes this section by noting the following: “With relatively low unemployment and growing annual wages, economic indicators suggest that Texas remains a destination of choice for workers.”
More people are moving to Texas shown from the highest net domestic migration from other states—far surpassing all other states. Texas ranks in the top five for the highest percent population changes for people under 18 and for total percent population, indicating that people move with their feet when they notice a good thing happening for their careers and families.
According to the Comptroller’s data, Texans 25 years old and older with a high school diploma rank nearly last and with a bachelor’s degree near the middle of the pack. Education should be improved for the future of Texas, particularly by advancing school choice.
In evaluating tax and debt policy, Texas has the 6th lowest state debt per capita and ranks 10th for having the lowest business tax burden. Texas has a high median property tax rate and local debt per capita as both rank as the third worst nationwide.
Changes can, and should, continue to be made in Texas to decrease the business tax burden with a complete repeal of the business margin tax, help homeowners by eventually swapping the property tax with a reformed state sales tax, among a host of other liberty-friendly, pro-growth policy choices.
Overall, Texas is well above average compared to most other states, but that doesn’t mean that progress can’t make Texans more prosperous and free.