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Texas Economic Development


Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries

In the 1960s the population of Texas passed that of Ohio and Illinois to become the third largest state in the nation by 1975. In 1970 slightly more than 70 percent of Texans, both black and white, lived in urban areas, the same percentage as in the rest of the nation. About 12 percent of Texans were black, compared to 35 percent in 1870, but the Mexican American population had grown to 20 percent, up from less than 5 percent in 1900.

The character of Texas cities had changed, too. No city had adequate public transportation. Private automobiles encouraged the growth of interstate highways, although new highway systems often divided established neighborhoods. Whites escaped both school integration and a perceived crime threat by moving from city centers to the suburbs. Each year the inner cities housed a higher percentage of the poor and black and Hispanic people while tax revenues declined. In the 1960s the economy of Texas remained centered on oil, defense and agriculture. Oil created new jobs, which attracted new settlers, which in turn encouraged real estate, financial, and manufacturing booms. Farms continued to grow in size, and the 1970 U.S. census reported that less than 3 percent of the population owned farms.

East Texas and west Texas became almost uninhabited, with an occasional island city that served the vast territory. No one discounted the importance of agriculture to the Texas economy, however; somewhere between 20 and 25 percent of the state was involved in the $33 billion “agribusiness” industries.

Many towns or cities, for example San Antonio, listed military bases as their major employer. In addition, the location of the manned-space center near Houston and the 1958 development of the microchip attracted high-tech defense contractors to the Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth areas. Although the economy was much different than that of prewar Texas, it remained one based on raw materials and defense. In the mid-1970s and early 1980s, the Texas economy and population grew spectacularly.

In 1973 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) placed an embargo on oil to the United States and other supporters of Israel, ending the stability in oil prices that had existed for the previous 25 years. The price of Texas oil tripled and then doubled again after 1979. Texas oil profits caused real estate prices to soar, construction to skyrocket, and banks to enjoy unprecedented growth. Texas agriculture, however, suffered from the high oil prices, which increased the cost of running machinery and petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides. Nevertheless, the economic boom brought 2.5 million people to Texas between 1970 and 1985.

In the early 1980s, after world oil demand decreased and the embargo collapsed, oil prices dropped quickly. Real estate and banking fell into a depression that was accented by a reduction in the increase in defense spending, particularly after the end of the Cold War. By the mid-1980s the Texas economy had been badly damaged.

The collapse in oil prices cut the state’s revenue 20 percent. Governor Mark White, Jr., who had defeated Bill Clements in 1982, made a temporary sales tax increase permanent and tried innovative ways to raise new revenue. At the same time, advised by a committee including billionaire Texan H. Ross Perot, White introduced and passed a number of public school reforms, a pay raise for public school teachers, and other measures to improve public services, including the prison system. He was defeated in 1986 by Clements. "Texas" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.

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