Texas’ economy continued to outperform the U.S. economy

Created Wednesday, 20 April 2011 13:29

Monthly Review of Texas Economy

Real Estate Center Online News Texas A&M University
COLLEGE STATION (Real Estate Center)
April 19, 2011

by Ali Anari and Mark G. Dotzour

Texas’ economy continued to outperform the U.S. economy, gaining 237,900 jobs from March 2010 to March 2011, an annual growth rate of 2.3 percent. Over the same period, U.S. nonfarm employment rose 1 percent. The state’s private sector also exceeded U.S. figures, posting an annual employment growth rate of 2.7 percent compared with 1.6 percent for the U.S. private sector from March 2010 to March 2011.

From March 2010 to March 2011, Texas gained 237,900 jobs, an annual growth rate of 2.3 percent. Over the same period, U.S. nonfarm employment rose 1 percent.

The state’s private sector also exceeded U.S. figures, posting an annual employment growth rate of 2.7 percent compared with 1.6 percent for the U.S. private sector.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell from 8.2 percent to 8.1 percent. The nation’s rate decreased from 9.7 to 8.8 percent.

All Texas industries except financial activities and information industries had more jobs in March 2011 than in March 2010. All Texas metro areas, except Abilene, Brownsville-Harlingen and Laredo, had more jobs. Petroplex Odessa ranked first in job creation followed by Midland, Longview and Dallas-Plano-Irving.

The state’s actual unemployment rate in March 2011 was 8.1 percent. Midland had the lowest unemployment rate followed by Amarillo, College Station-Bryan, Lubbock and San Angelo.

Click Here for the complete report.



Poteet Strawberry Festival

Created Thursday, 07 April 2011 15:10

Sweet Poteet

So, my daughter and I went down to the Poteet Strawberry festival this last weekend; we’ve been to it before, at least twice – but it now seems to have grown, and grown on steroids. Wow – we didn’t recall having to wait in a line of cars for about a mile outside of Poteet to get up to one of the parking lots. There weren’t near as many vendors, lining the walkways of the festival grounds . . . and there certainly weren’t as many outside the grounds in previous years. Across the street from the festival grounds was am unbroken row of street-food vendors, everything from aqua fresca, to tacos, to gorditas, to fruit drinks in hollowed out pineapples, freshly cut slabs of watermelon, fruit cups, shortcake, roasted corn, BBQ brisket, sausages and roasted turkey legs.

This was not confined to the streets of Poteet, either. All the way from 1604 to Poteet along Route 16, everywhere there was a church or a business, or a cluster of homes, there were pavilions set up, barbeques smoking away, and tables and chairs set out, invitingly. This is Poteet’s once-a-year-big bash, the celebration of strawberries – strawberries that were for many years, the main cash crop. Well, one has a feeling that the strawberries are just the excuse, the starting-point, and an ongoing decorative motif. There are only a few local growers of the sweet red heart-shaped fruit these days; only those local growers are allowed into the grounds, to advertise their harvest as real, genuine, for-real Poteet strawberries.

So – why has the Strawberry Festival gotten ever bigger, even if the strawberries in the market are more likely to come from California, or Mexico, or someplace else than Poteet? Ah – I theorize that the real purpose is to have a midway and carnival rides, to listen to live music and watch the fire-eater, to eat kettle corn and cotton candy, to engage in games of skill for the prize of a stuffed animal, to look in wonder at the display of white Bengal tigers, and generally have a good time. In the era of cable television, of movies and Disney World and other such permanent, carefully designed and gorgeously appointed amusement parks . . . this is a throwback to another and a more simple time, that of the late 19th century, when folk living in a rural area had neither the time or the money to travel very far.

So amusement had to come to them, and not stay for very long, for the traveling lecturers, the traveling circus, the Chautauqua and the revival meeting – well, they could not afford to stay in one place for very long, either. This was a big country – still is a big country – and just as our ancestors did, we crave loud music and bright lights, exotic animals and excitement, to meet with our friends and encounter strangers, to consume interesting varieties of foodstuff-onna-stick . . . but in carefully metered and regulated doses. Not too many of us can stand it all on a 24-7-365 basis . . . so for the great most of us, local festivals like this will do very nicely.


The San Jacinto reenactment is April 16, 2011. This is the 175th anniversary of the war for Texas independence

Created Thursday, 07 April 2011 13:55

Annals of 1836: The Runaway Scrape

The 175 anniversary of the war for Texas independence is being observed this year, I’ve been to commemorative events at the Alamo, and at Presidio La Bahia . With the price of a gallon of gas already reaching towards $3.50, I’ll probably have to give a miss on the drive from my San Antonio hometo Houston to the reenactment event there on the weekend of April 16th. The war was fast, furious and relatively brief; barely six months from the start of open hostilities at the ‘Come-and-Take-it Fight” in a watermelon field outside of Gonzales, to the shattering of the Mexican forces under the command of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, in a grassy meadow by Buffalo Bayou, in 18 minutes of pitched battle. Kind of fitting, actually – as went the war, so went the final decisive battle.

So, most of the major events have their commemoration – but not so much the event that hit the Texian settlers the hardest – the terrifying Runaway Scrape. The San Jacinto reenactment (April 16, 2011) will touch on it a little, which is only suitable, but it would be difficult for a day-long event to do the experience justice. It was a pell-mell evacuation of all the Anglo settler families, first from all settlements and farms west of the Colorado – and then, as Santa Anna’s three columns kept advancing east, it seemed as if there would be no safety anywhere on the Texas side of the Sabine.

Fear drove the settler families, fear of the implacable Santa Anna, who had put down similar federalist-inspired rebellions in other Mexican states with considerable brutality. Upon defeating the federalist militia of Zacatecas, Santa Anna had allowed his victorious army to pillage, loot and otherwise abuse the citizens of the defeated town for two days. What happened in Zacatecas would have been well-known, among the Texian rebels; the executions of the Alamo and La Bahia garrisons were just proof that Santa Anna was running true to established form.

The direct orders of Sam Houston also provided a motivation, as if any more were needed. He had barely arrived in Gonzales on March 11, with the intent of rallying an army to him to relieve the Alamo, when word arrived that it was too late. Within hours, Houston gave orders for his army to retreat east, back to hold a strong line along the Colorado River. He also ordered that civilians evacuate as well . . . and that the town be burnt. It was a cruel plan, but one with a purpose. Santa Anna’s supply lines were stretched to the breaking point as it was. Failing necessary supplies arriving from Mexico, they could manage in the short term by forage and local requisition, but Houston’s plan was to leave a scorched earth as he retreated back and back again. Gonzales burned, so did the fledgling settlement of Bastrop, and San Felipe de Austin, although there is controversy as to who actually fired San Felipe. Refugio, Richmond, Washington-on-the Brazos – all emptied of the Anglo-American settlers and their families. Santa Anna burned Harrisburg, possibly out of frustration at not being able to catch members of the Texian government. All the way through March and into April, settler families straggled east. Some had only a bare few minutes to gather their belongings and leave. Many families buried those things they valued, intending to return when they could. It was the rainiest spring in years, which put many of the rivers at flood-stage and bogged down the Mexican army . . . but added to the sufferings of the refugees. Disease broke out, especially those intensified by cold, hunger and bad sanitation. The dead were hastily buried where they died, and their kin moved on, seeking any safety they could.

And then, on April 21st, it was all over, although it took some few weeks for word to get out, and for the refugees to believe . . . and even longer to rebuild.

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