You can continue to add big jobs to the list of big things to love about big Texas. In yet another report, this one from the American Legislative Exchange Council, Texas ranked number one over the last decade in jobs and economic growth.
One of the cities creating those jobs is Houston, described by Mayor Annise Parker as a “redneck white city down in Texas.”
According to Matthew Kaminski at The Wall Street Journal:
The mayor herself is a walking testament to the cosmopolitan contrarian reality of modern Houston. Annise Parker is a Democrat in a deep-red state, the first openly gay mayor of a major American city. She’s a social liberal who’s also a former oil-industry executive with a pro-business attitude running what may be the nation’s least-regulated metropolis….
Houston’s recent track record is startling. For the calendar year ending in February, it saw the fastest pace of job growth (4.5%) among the country’s 20 largest metropolitan areas. (With a population of 2.1 million, it’s the fourth-largest U.S. city.) In 2011, the last year such data are available, Houston had the fastest-growing large metropolitan economy, at 3.7%.
Add to that a cost of living that is 7.8% below the U.S. average—New York is 53.4% above the average—and you can see the attraction for waves of new arrivals. Housing costs run a third less than the average in the 29 largest metro areas. Adjusting for these lower costs, Houston has the highest per-capita income of any city in the nation.
Houston is also home to Cabela’s, which is a huge beneficiary of President Obama’s policies. Its stock is up 95% over the last year and 70% so far this year. Its cash cow is firearms, ammunition, and accessories, which made up a third of its sales last year and helped with most of its 24% same-store sales growth. That’s how the government has been working overtime for the brothers Cabela, Richard, 76, and James, 73. As Nathan Vardi points out in Forbes:
It has been an incredible run for the company founded in 1961 by Richard Cabela and his wife, Mary, at their kitchen table in Chappell, Nebr. Within two years younger brother James Cabela joined the catalog business, and the duo eventually moved their headquarters to Sidney, Nebr. and developed stores that have become like shopping amusement parks for sportsmen, known for elaborate taxidermy displays of animals from deer to lions. In addition to its stores and direct-sales channels, Cabela’s offers a cobranded Visa credit card and even owns an FDIC-insured bank.
Then you have Houston’s John Arnold. He wants the government to work for you too. He’s got around $4 billion to make that happen. The 39-year-old made his fortune away from Wall Street through his hedge fund, Centaurus Energy. His approach to philanthropy is anything but mainstream. He’s not interested in building more libraries that we don’t need. In “The New Science of Giving,” Brad Reagan of The Wall Street Journal writes:
The Arnolds want to see if they can use their money to solve some of the country’s biggest problems through data analysis and science, with an unsentimental focus on results and an aversion to feel-good projects—the success of which can’t be quantified. No topic is too ambitious: Along with obesity, the Arnolds’ plan to dig into criminal justice and pension reform, among others. Anne Milgram, the former New Jersey attorney general hired to tackle the criminal-justice issue, has a name for all this: She calls it the “Moneyball” approach to giving, a reference to the book and movie about how the Oakland A’s used smart statistical analysis to upend some of baseball’s conventional wisdom. And the Arnolds are in no hurry for answers. Indeed, they believe patience is a key resource behind their giving.
There are plenty more reason why Texas works. But you don’t have to look much beyond Houston as a template to get other cities and states in America working too.