AUSTIN, TX — A newly released economic presents an overview of challenges across the state amid ongoing pandemic, and the findings are not good — with public sector job loss among the nation's highest and steep declines in minority-owned firms among the most notable economic corrosive effects.
Titled "State of The State of Texas Report," the study was prepared by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin on Friday to provide an overview of data and key trends on economic impact of the pandemic on the Lone Star State.
"As the pandemic continues to affect the health and economic well-being of communities all over the state, having accurate and up-to-date metrics allows regional, state, and local organizations to make evidence-based decisions for the future," the report's authors wrote.
Researchers added: "We hope this compilation is used as a source of information for Texans to be well-informed about the pandemic's impact on their own state and provide valuable information to encourage leaders at all levels to use data to seek out opportunities and plan for the future."
Much of what researchers found was sobering. Among the key findings as of September:
Public sector job loss since February in Texas is one of the highest in the nation. These losses are felt mainly at the local level.
Vast areas of Texas are more than a 30-minute drive to an inpatient medical facility capable of treating COVID-19.
Almost all sectors see less dramatic job losses due to COVID-19 in Texas compared to U.S.
Business ownership dramatically declined. Black-owned businesses declined by 41 percent and Hispanic-owned businesses by 32 percent.
At-home/remote full-time work is expected to triple.
Texas population increases are impacted by large migration into the state. However, migration favors urban over rural areas. The “big four” urban regions of Texas must deal with the problems of fast growth, while many rural communities face decreasing population. Migration from outside of Texas is fueling unprecedented urbanization.
Rural communities — in Texas and globally — face more vulnerabilities during the pandemic. Among the factors: Older populations, distances to medical facilities, less diversified economies, supply-chain issues and less digital connectivity.
Art Markman, executive director of the IC2 Institute — the UT-Austin think tank from which the findings emerged — wrote in palpably reflective terms in a report summary. The damage the coronavirus pandemic has wrought is irretrievable, he inferred, and it's now time to plot out a better future amid the economic wreckage.
“This is the time to plan for a more resilient future," Markman wrote. "This data we compiled provides community leaders with context to better understand what is happening around the state so they can plan and prepare to rethink, redesign and recover from the economic devastation of the pandemic. The entire Regional Economic Recovery Initiative that the IC2 Institute launched in March provides a mechanism for the University of Texas at Austin to make good on our promise that 'We are Texas.'”
Amid the grim findings, a glimmer of hope: Texas has the 10th largest economy globally, researchers reminded, surpassing Canada and South Korea. "Texas has consistently grown economically despite recessions," analysts added.