News Roundup: Study Finds Migrants Give A Big Boost The Texas Economy

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelApril 5, 2018 2:15 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas finds migrants make up about half of the Texas workforce and help drive the state’s economic growth. That’s on top of having one of the “stickiest” populations in the country: 82 percent of those born in the state stay here.

As of 2016, domestic migrants from other states made up 25 percent of the Texas labor force, and international migrants comprised another 23 percent.

Pia Orrenius, a senior economist at the Dallas Fed and one of the report’s authors, explains that migrants fit so well into the Texas economy because they’re filling a need.

“Our own labor force is slightly less educated than the nation on average and so what we’ve been bringing is a lot of, from other states, a lot of very high skilled workers,” says Orrenius. “Take for example Texas transplants from New York: 51 percent of them had a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 27 percent of the Texas population. International migrants also help fill many high-skilled positions within the state. 59 percent of medical scientists are foreign born as are 45 percent of software developers, and 33 percent of engineers. Orrenius adds that migrants do not just help fill high-skilled jobs, they’re crucial to low-skilled fields as well. “Of course, we stop and take note of, we have also attracted historically a lot of low skilled workers as well, if you look at international immigrants from Mexico and Central America. So it’s important not just that we’re bringing in workers, but also their skills.”

Orrenius says that the significant number of migrants in Texas does not seem to have affected wage growth or the employment rates of native Texans.

“The big reason for that is really just the demand for workers is growing so fast that in the case of Texas because of this fast-growing economy,” says Orrenius. “Without the migration of workers into the state, we’d actually sort of be up against a growth bottleneck.  And so we have a case of a very fast growing regional economy where migrants actually allow us to grow faster if you will.”

According to the report, California is the state that sent the most domestic migrants to Texas between 2011 and 2016, followed by Florida, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. Mexico is the country that sent the most international migrants during that same period, followed by India.

New buildings in Houston’s floodplains will have to be higher. The Houston City Council passed new regulations Wednesday after weeks of debate.

Houston Public Media’s Davis Land reports.

The rules affect buildings in both the city’s 100 and 500-year flood plains. As new structures are built or homeowners make what the city calls “substantial improvements,” they’ll have to build two feet above the water level of a five-hundred year flood. Mayor Sylvester Turner says he understands it’s a tough pill to swallow for a city so traditionally opposed to regulation.

“This is a city where you don’t — very seldom do we tell people in this city how to do it. You just kinda do it in this city,” Turner says.

He says there are plans in the works for regulations that extend beyond the floodplains, but hasn’t offered any details.

If you’re heading to the Texas Motor Speedway for the NASCAR races this weekend, you can also pick up a very big, BLT.

Chef Lincoln Engstrom has concocted the Hawg Heaven BLT that includes thick slices of soy black pepper candied bacon on corn-dusted, jalapeno bread. That bread is even branded with the Texas Motor Speedway logo. You can watch Chef Engstrom below:

The Texas-sized sandwich will run you $10, and is available Saturday and Sunday.