Greg Abbott economic talk Rex

Gov. Greg Abbott said Texas’ devotion to cultivating a workforce is the key to the state’s economic success. (Courtesy Office of the Governor)

AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott said Texas’ devotion to cultivating a workforce is the key to the state’s economic success.

Abbott hosted a fireside chat with Peter Rex, the CEO of Rex, an investment and real estate company, and Texas Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Robert Allen in Austin on Friday to discuss the state’s economy. He said the state’s ability to recruit companies from other states and around the world is not primarily because of low taxes or relaxed regulations but a robust workforce.

“The workforce propels businesses; the workforce propels Texas,” Abbott said.

Texas is one of fours states to fully regain all job loss caused by the pandemic, according to a report by agency Fitch Ratings.

A Friday report by the Texas Workforce Commission found that the state’s unemployment remained at 4.8% in January versus December, but it also added 29,000 jobs in January.

"The spirit of Texas — rooted in rugged individualism, freedom, and personal responsibility — makes the Lone Star State exceptional in every way," Abbott said. "From education, agriculture, space, technology, and more, Texas offers everything families, growing businesses, and individuals need to succeed.

Of the added jobs, trade, transportation and utilities gained 12,000, while leisure and hospitality added 5,700 positions, and information employment grew by 3,300 jobs, per state data.

“The Lone Star State continues to set new records for Texans in employment, with January’s total surpassing the record set in December,” TWC Chairman Bryan Daniel said in a news release. “Texas has added nearly 700,000 jobs since January 2021 and, while we can’t predict the future, job activity and hiring efforts by Texas employers continues to grow.”

Abbott said the state’s investment in early childhood education and push to elevate state universities to tier one research facilities have also played a role. Texas now has 11 tier one institutions of higher education, tied with California for most in the country.

Compiled by Carnegie Classification, reaching tier one status opens doors for grant opportunities, attracts industry leaders who might want to partner on research and aids in faculty recruiting. There are 146 institutions with the distinction in the country, according to Carnegie's 2021 update.

Abbott added that businesses are working with universities to prepare the next generation of working Texans.

“We first of all focus on making sure we have an educated workforce,” Abbott said.

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