The largest state in the 48 contiguous United States and the second most populous is often the bottom of jokes (what's the four seasons in Texas? Drought, flood, blizzard and twister). Sure, it's got terribly hot and humid weather, relatively high crime rates, not-so-great schools, and cowboys.
But the Lone Star state has a lot of things going for it (besides having our very own John Farrier as a resident), like plenty of land, oil, low taxes and of course, cowboys.
And what's more, Texas is going to be the future. More exactly, the future of the United States of America will look more like Texas than any other place in the nation. Tyler Cowen, economist and author of the book Average is Over, explains in this week's cover story of TIME Magazine:
Texas is America's fastest-growing large state, with three of the top five fastest-growing cities in the country ...
As an economist and a libertarian, I have become convinced that whether they know it or not, these migrants are being pushed (and pulled) by the major economic forces that are reshaping the American economy as a whole: the hollowing out of the middle class, the increased costs of living in the U.S.'s established population centers and the resulting search by many Americans for a radically cheaper way to live and do business.
To a lot of Americans, Texas feels like the future. And I would argue that more than any other state, Texas looks like the future as well — offering us a glimpse of what's to come for the country at large in the decades ahead.
Cowen lists 10 reasons why Texas is America's future, as excerpted by Ryan Sager at TIME Ideas. For example:
5. Cheap land, cheap houses
So where can people go when their incomes aren’t keeping pace with the rising cost of living? We know they’re headed to Texas. And they’re headed there because land is cheap, and thus housing is cheap.
A typical home in Brooklyn costs more than half a million dollars (and rising rapidly), and 85% of these dwellings are apartments and condos rather than stand-alone homes. They don’t usually have impressive sinks and seamlessly operating air-conditioning fixtures. In Houston, the typical home costs $130,100 — and it is likely a stand-alone and newer than the structure in Brooklyn.
Housing is bigger — and cheaper — in Texas.
6. Cheap living generally
"The lower house prices, along with a generally low cost of living — helped along by cheap labor, cheap produce and cheap gas (currently about $3 a gallon) — really matter when it comes to quality of life … Texas has a higher per capita income than California, adjusted for cost of living, and nearly catches up with New York by the same measure. Once you factor in state and local taxes, Texas pulls ahead of New York — by a wide margin. The website MoneyRates ranks states on the basis of average income, adjusting for tax rates and cost of living; once those factors are accounted for, Texas has the third highest average income (after Virginia and Washington State), while New York ranks 36th."
"In the past 12 months, Texas has added 274,700 new jobs — that’s 12% of all jobs added nationwide and 51,000 more than California added … In fact, from 2002 to 2011, with 8% of the U.S. population, Texas created nearly one-third of the country’s highest-paying jobs."
8. Low taxes
Texas has no income tax. Per resident, it collects roughly $3,500 in taxes overall (including all state and local taxes) every year. By way of contrast, California collects $4,900 per resident — New York collects a whopping $7,400 per resident. Both states, of course, have income taxes.
People are going to Texas because it’s a low-cost, low-tax state. But they’re also migrating to other Sun Belt states, like Colorado, Arizona and South Carolina, which have similar policy profiles.
Read the rest over at TIME Ideas
(Image: Sarah Illenberger for TIME)