The colossal $3 trillion coronavirus federal relief package enacted in March was designed to aid Americans through easily executed means and without respect to regional variations in economic conditions. Although the $1,200 direct relief to nearly all American taxpayers and the added $600 monthly federal unemployment benefit may seem plentiful to Texans, the story is vastly different for workers on the nation’s coastline. Coastal cities like New York, Boston, and San Francisco have a highly constrained housing supply and as result, a high cost of living. Aside from housing costs, the price of a representative basket of consumer goods doesn’t vary all too much around the U.S. Consequently, workers in low housing cost markets, like Texas, unduly benefit from blanket relief.
Take another comparison between Dallas and New York City. In Dallas, the median household income is roughly $50,000 and the average rent per unit falls just above $1,200 according to apartment data provider RealPage. In New York, the median household income is roughly $60,000, but the average rent per unit exceeds $3,500 – nearly triple the average cost in Dallas. While a monthly $600 federal benefit may keep unemployed Texans afloat, it’s nothing more than a drop in the bucket for distraught New Yorkers. Unsurprisingly, a large share of New Yorkers are unable to pay rent. According to a landlord survey conducted by the Community Housing Improvement Program, roughly a quarter of New York tenants skipped their rent in May. The driver of this national disparity, housing affordability, was experiencing a political moment in 2019. In the years to come, housing affordability will continue to define the nation’s demographic shifts and domestic political affairs. Elected officials where housing costs constrict workers will face mounting pressure as the COVID-19 crisis magnifies the issue. Subsequently, the demographic trends of the past decade within the U.S. are likely to accelerate.
Americans are moving from the high-cost coasts and the withering Midwest to business-friendly and affordable southern states, where Texas is an undeniable leader. From 2010 to 2018, Texas had the second-highest net migration of any state, accounting for over 1.7 million people and roughly 24 percent of the nation’s entire migration influx. The factors that drove this unbelievable migration remain in sure footing entering the new decade. The state’s very identity is forged by low taxes, attainable housing, warm weather, and clear political leadership. Today, such an environment is difficult to rival as is the strength of Texas. Once again, Texas is ready to prevail and lead, serving as a beacon and an added tailwind to our recovery as a nation.