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Economic Ignorance

Posted By Russ Roberts On August 21, 2011 @ 3:47 pm In Education,Politics,Work | Comments Disabled

Nothing captures the state of economic education in America like the debate over Rick Perry’s job creation abilities. He brags about how many jobs he has created. Critics point out that many of them are government jobs (that he allegedly disdains) or minimum wage jobs. People point out (I will assume that the facts are correct) that Texas has the highest proportion of minimum wage jobs (though maybe tied with Mississippi).

Those who like Rick Perry argue that he is a job-creating wizard.

Those who dislike Rick Perry argue that he is a bad-job-creating wizard (or a hypocrite).

He, of course, is no kind of wizard at all. The governor has something to do with whether people want to live in the state and what kind of people. But he creates very few jobs directly. Certainly he and his policies is only one of many factors determining how many jobs are created in Texas. And certainly, he has little control over how many minimum wage jobs are created or the proportion of jobs that earn the minimum wage. That is determined by the skill levels of the people who live in Texas or who move there in response to economic opportunity. It is possible that particular policies of Governor Perry have encouraged opportunity or discouraged it. I’d like to know what those are. Merely touting the numbers of jobs created or the kinds of jobs doesn’t tell me a thing.

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