-------- Original Message --------
Subject: RE: Folo Questions
Date: Wed, 17 Aug 2011 14:25:14 -0500
From: Peter Clark
To: wgselby@statesman.com <wgselby@statesman.com>
CC: Michael Villarreal


Gardner,

 

Rep. Villarreal asked me to forward his response to you. His answers are in red font below.

 

Best,

 

Peter

 


 

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Gardner Selby" <wgselby@statesman.com>
Date: Aug 16, 2011 10:23 AM
Subject: Folo Questions
To: "Michael Villarreal" <muvillarreal@gmail.com>

...

 1) The percentages you cited reflect only hourly workers, who comprise about 56 percent of workers, and do not apply to the "total Texas labor force," the phrase you used. Federal researchers don’t even attempt to gauge wage rates for the 40-plus percent of Texas workers who are salaried or paid in other ways.Thoughts?
2)  The actual percentage of hourly workers paid at or below the minimum wage before Perry became governor in late 2000 was 5.8 percent--not 4 percent, as you said. The share dropped to 4.2 percent his first full year as governor.
Thoughts?

You're right. While my argument was true, the exact wording was slightly off. Indeed, the percentage doubled since his first full year in office, not the year before, and as far as we know the statistic only doubled in the population for whom the statistic is measured.  If I had said, "The percentage of hourly workers earning the minimum wage or less in Texas has doubled since Perry's first full year as Governor," then the point would have been the same, the audience would have understood the same idea, and the statement wouldn't be snagged on any technicalities.


3) Part of the difference between the 2010 and 2000 percentages can be attributed to the government increasing the federal minimum wage three times in intervening years. Thoughts?

First, over a decade of course there were a number of policies and other variables that shaped the minimum wage data I cited just as there were a number of polices and variables that shaped the jobs data Perry cites. Second, last year the Federal minimum wage didn't change but the number of Texas workers with hourly pay at or below the Federal minimum rose by 76,000 (see the same BLS data). Third, you're right that some of those minimum wage workers would have had even lower wages under Perry if the federal government hadn't increased the minimum wage. Fourth, other states have faced the Federal minimum wage increase but they haven't been content to leave wages at that level. Texas is tied with Mississippi for the state with the highest percentage of hourly workers earning the minimum wage or less (see BLS data).

 

4) Broadly, it's not clear to me how a governor, Perry in this case, would personally be responsible for such percentage changes. Thoughts?

First, the Governor is the one who has taken credit for job creation in this state, although many experts disagree with him. For those people that consider the job numbers part of Perry's record, the full picture of the job numbers should be taken into account. Second, the point of the 15 minimum speech that included these two sentences was that Perry has failed to lead the state towards investing in the education and human capital needed to grow high-paying jobs. The Perry economic model is based on low levels of education and low wages.