by David Stanowski
18 November 2007
Like the country as a whole, the state of Texas has enjoyed robust population and job growth since 1980. Unfortunately, this has not been the case for the City of Galveston.
As the U.S. population grew 30%, between 1980 and 2005, Galveston had a population DECLINE of 7%, during this same period! With a city that is so appealing, to many people, why are more people leaving than becoming new residents? Is one of the problems the lack of decent jobs, or is the net out migration undermining local job growth?
It doesn't matter whether it was residents or jobs that left first, it is nearly impossible to have a strong economy in a city that already has a below average Median Household Income, and then hit it with the loss of both jobs and residents!
When it comes to looking at employment data, caution is always warranted. The Payroll data generated by the federal government is dominated by mathematical approximations, rather than actual head counts, so wide fluctuations are possible, especially when the data being examined is for a relatively small city. The most notorious of these adjustment algorithms is their Birth/Death model.
Employment data for the City of Galveston is available starting in 1990. This data shows that the number of jobs peaked in 1995, and has been declining ever since!! There was a 14% drop from 1999 to 2000, which could have been caused by one major employer making big cut backs, or a discontinuity in the B/D model. There was also a 7% drop from 2004 to 2005, which could be explained by the same factors that may have influenced the earlier drop.
In 1995, Galveston had 30,387 jobs, but by 2006 the number was down to only 25,912; representing a loss of 4,475 jobs; a DECLINE of 14.7%. During this same period, the State of Texas added 1,936,038 jobs; an INCREASE of 21.55%!
Monthly data is available for 2007 through August, but it shows the number of jobs at 26,303; still far below the 1995 peak.
Even though it is very likely that this employment data has some degree of inaccuracy at the points of discontinuity, it still paints a clear picture of a job base, and, therefore, an economy in a state of decline since 1995!
The 1990's were a period of relatively strong job growth, in most places, that did not slow until the stock market began to decline in 2001-2002. Galveston followed this same general path, except that the number of jobs peaked very early in the cycle, i.e. 1995 instead of 2000.
After the stock market bottomed in 2002-2003, job growth picked up again, on a national basis, but locally the rebound has been very tepid, and has remained below the recovery high made in December 2004.
For more information on the Galveston Economy:
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