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article imageTexas unemployment on rise, Perry’s jobs growth agenda at risk

By Lynn Herrmann     Sep 17, 2011 in Politics
Austin - Unemployment in Texas rose to 8.5 percent in August as the nation’s economic crisis has apparently come to the Lone Star State, and the statistic will offer plenty of ammunition as GOP presidential hopefuls renew attacks on the state’s brash governor.
In numbers released by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) on Friday, the state’s jobless rate rose from the July figure of 8.4 percent. Despite the increase in unemployment, the state government agency noted private sector growth in Texas added 8,100 jobs in August, 16 straight months of positive annual job growth.
Still, the nation’s economic woes have drifted south, crossing the Red River border to finally roost in Texas, where the current unemployment rate is the highest it’s been in 24 years. “Texas continues to feel the pressures of a stagnant national economy,” said Tom Pauken, chairman of the TWC, in a media release (pdf). The current 8.5 percent is the state’s highest since July 1987, when the state was suffering through a real estate and oil bust which had seen the rate at 9.3 percent 10 months before that.
“Private sector gains were offset by government losses of 9,400 jobs in August, including 11,500 jobs lost in local government,” Pauken added.
The news could not come at a worse time for Rick Perry, the state’s governor who is seeking a presidential bid based in strong part on what he claims is the state’s s solid economic performance during his long tenure as governor. 

“His opponents will pay attention,” said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University, the San Antonio Express News reports. “If Texas’ job-growth engine continues to sputter for several months, that would be uncomfortable for the governor.”
Perhaps in an attempt to deflect the seriousness of the jobs report, Perry earlier in week issued a statement directing job losses in the state on to the Obama administration. “The Obama Administration continues to put up road blocks for our nation's job creators by imposing burdensome regulations based on assumptions, not facts, that will result in job losses and increased energy costs with no definite environmental benefit. Yet again, this administration is ignoring Texas' proven track record of cleaning our air while creating jobs, opting instead for more stifling red tape. As expected, the only results of this rule will be putting Texans out of work and creating hardships for them and their families, while putting the reliability of Texas' grid in jeopardy.”
In an email to The Hill, Perry’s spokesman Mark Miner added: “And even during this national economic downturn, which the president’s misguided policies have only worsened, Texas remains the nation’s top economy, attracting jobs and growing by more than 1,000 people a day.”
Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and currently Perry’s main opponent, issued a press release on Friday noting Texas’ new unemployment numbers are more than double the 4.2 percent unemployment rate when Perry inherited the governorship in 2001.
More about texas unemployment, Texas governor, Rick perry, Economic downturn, on rise
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