Gov. Rick Perry says Republican voters should support his presidential bid because he knows best how to create jobs based on his experience in Texas.
Indeed, since the recession ended in June 2009, Texas has created roughly one-third to one-half of the net new jobs in the nation, depending which data is used for comparison.
But there's disagreement about how much credit Perry should get as he campaigns for the White House on his jobs message.
With unemployment stubbornly high, Perry told an Iowa State Fair audience he knows how to create jobs. "You let the private sector free them up from over-taxation; free them up from over-regulation; free them up from over-litigation; then government, get out of the way," he said.
Perry has said the most important contributor in Texas job growth is low taxes. But according to studies by the Dallas Federal Reserve, the low tax burden is just one factor; geology, geography and demography are also critical.
The energy industry (geology) spurred jobs through higher oil prices and rising gas drilling.
Texas' proximity to Mexico (geography) grew trade.
And growing population and immigration (demography) supplied labor — with both low and high skill levels.
"The interaction between all those is what makes the Texas economy great," said Pia Orrenius, a senior economist at the Dallas Fed.
Critics say that the jobs "miracle" Perry takes credit for has been under way since 1990, and will become a mirage, in part, under the new state budget.
"The truth is that Rick Perry this legislative session supported a state budget that's estimated to kill hundreds of thousands of jobs and that will lay off tens of thousands of teachers," said Texas Democratic Party spokeswoman Kirsten Gray.
But Perry supporters say low taxes are good for businesses here, and for attracting those in other states.
"What you can look to is his ability to go out across the country to major companies and businesses and entrepreneurs and bring them to Texas," said Perry campaign adviser Reggie Bashur.
Regardless of Perry's impact on jobs growth, his campaign will try to make him the candidate for a nation that wants to get back to work.