Whether in recovery or recession, the sprawling U.S. economy doesn’t march in lockstep. Some parts of the country are always faring better than others—and in recent years, Texas has been the hub of the top-performing area.
Employment in the nation’s 12 Federal Reserve districts provides a handy gauge to measure this regional economic diversity. The Dallas-based 11th district contains Texas, northern Louisiana, and southern New Mexico. From January 2001 (the starting point of the chart below) to 2007, employment in the Dallas Fed’s district recovered in sync with the rest of the country, with steady job gains. Eventually, during the next year or so, the district’s job base kept growing strongly, while employment in the rest of the nation stalled and then fell as the U.S. economy sank into a long, deep recession.
Only in the second half of 2008 did recession hit the Dallas Fed district. Employment fell for about a year before beginning to turn upward again in early 2010. Through mid-year, the Texas-based region was recovering jobs faster than most other Fed districts, but the most recent months have seen a disappointing employment dip.
Even with the recent job losses, the Dallas Fed district’s economy retains a huge lead over the rest of the nation. Once the United States begins to recover again, the district should outperform the rest of the nation in creating jobs.
Cox is director of the William J. O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom at Southern Methodist University. Alm is a writer in residence at the center.