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The Lone Star State of Inequality: Unpacking Greg Abbott’s Misleading Job Claims

Uncovering the truth behind Texas’ high poverty and uninsured rates, low wages, and lack of worker protections.

Once again today, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has boasted about the state’s job creation numbers, claiming that Texas is “number one for job creation” and that businesses continue to invest in the state due to its “lower taxes and reasonable regulation.” However, a closer look at the data reveals a different story.

It’s important to note that while Texas may have added a significant number of new jobs in recent years, the state also has the highest poverty rate in the country. According to the U.S. Census, Texas has higher rates of both childhood and adult poverty than the national average.

Texas’ supplemental poverty rate average for 2019-2021 is 10.4% (3 million people), which is higher than the national average of 9.6%. The rate for Texas children living in poverty is also slightly higher than the national average at 10%, making it the 8th highest in the country.

Texas has a significant number of low-wage workers.

Nearly 40% of the state’s workers make less than $15 an hour. The Lone Star State is also home to the largest number of folks earning an hourly wage of less than $15: roughly 5.7 million workers. This is particularly concerning given that the federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 an hour since 2009 and has lost 21% of its value.

Wage disparities are also particularly present for Texans of color. While around a quarter of white employees earn less than $15 an hour, more than 54% of Hispanic/Latino and 48% of Black workers say the same.

Wage disparities are also particularly present for Texans of color. While around a quarter of white employees earn less than $15 an hour, more than 54% of Hispanic/Latino and 48% of Black workers say the same.

According to the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, Texas also maintained the country’s highest uninsured rate for children and adults at 18% in 2021. This means that not only are these workers earning low wages, but they also lack access to basic healthcare.

Texas ranks poorly in terms of worker protection.

Texas ranks 48th on the “Best States to Work Index.” The research looked at policies that support workers, and their families needs both within and outside the workplace. That includes equal pay mandates, pregnancy accommodations, and paid family and sick leave. Texas does mandate equal pay across gender and race and provides sexual harassment protection by state law, but it fell short on nearly every other criteria the study looked at.

Texas does not have any paid leave and does not have accommodations for pregnant workers or workers who are breastfeeding. There are very few regulations around having a fair enough schedule for workers. There are no protections for domestic workers. There is no protection for outdoor workers from heat.

Governor Greg Abbott’s claims of Texas being the #1 state for job creation are misleading when considering the state’s working conditions.

The state has the highest percentage of workers earning less than $15 an hour and the highest uninsured rate in the country. Texas also has higher rates of poverty than the national average and a lack of worker protections such as paid leave and accommodations for pregnant workers. While job creation is an essential factor in economic growth, it is also important to consider the well-being and financial stability of the state’s workforce.

Texas needs systemic change to improve the lives of its residents. The state’s leaders must take responsibility for the current state of affairs and work towards implementing policies that provide fair wages, worker protections, and access to affordable healthcare. The upcoming legislative session presents an opportunity for progress in these areas, and lawmakers must take action to address the needs of the state’s working families. The well-being of Texas residents should not be sacrificed for the sake of job creation. It’s time for Governor Abbott and the legislature to prioritize the well-being of all Texans, not just a select few.

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