By Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar
For the past few months, I’ve been traveling across the state, meeting with Texans from all over, talking about our economy — and doing quite a bit of listening, too.
I’ve found that Texans are very interested in the state economy, and a little worried about the tumultuous times in which we live. Their questions are basically pretty simple, even if the answers aren’t — how are we doing? And where are we headed?
Supplying those answers is my job, of course. As Texas’ chief financial officer, I’m charged with managing the state’s finances and monitoring the economy to make sure our revenues stay strong. Our economists and researchers have to keep their eyes fixed on the road ahead, staying abreast of trends and events that could affect our economy and the tax revenues it generates.
And despite a slowdown caused by slumping energy prices, I’m happy to report that the Texas economy is doing well — particularly in comparison to most other states, many of which are still mired in one of the weakest recoveries on record.
In Texas, though, we added 319,000 nonfarm jobs in fiscal 2015, more than any other state except California. Our unemployment rate has fallen from an average of 5.3 percent in fiscal 2014 to just 4.4 percent in 2015, well below that of the U.S.
The recent energy boom has cooled off, for the time being, and we’re feeling it. But our state’s diverse economy puts us in a good place. There’s no question that our growth will be more moderate than it was during the shale rush. We expect employment growth to drop into lower gear, at less than 2 percent, but the unemployment rate should remain steady, at about half of what it was during the Great Recession.
In the next two years, we expect the growth in Texas’ real gross state product (GSP) and personal income to track U.S. growth rates pretty closely. Our GSP grew by 2.4 percent in 2015 and should do about the same in fiscal 2016 and 2017. Texas personal income rose about 4.8 percent in 2015, and we estimate similar growth rates over the next two years.
As for state revenues, tax collections in the 2016-17 biennium should generate more than $93.1 billion, about 1.5 percent more than in the previous budget period. Our most recent budget was well below the state’s spending caps, and we anticipate no problem in meeting our obligations over the next two years.
As the state’s chief financial officer, I’ll continue to monitor the Texas economy closely, and inform you of any significant changes. As always, you can stay up to date via our website, Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Glenn Hegar is Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. For more information on the Texas economy, please visit the Comptroller’s website at Comptroller.Texas.Gov