Why a step back to the ‘80s won’t hurt Texas

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Professional headshot of Mark Lehman

03/29/2016 | Author: Mark Lehman

In Lehman's Terms

Many publications are dusting off headlines from the mid-1980s related to the economic impact of falling gas prices. A national newspaper recently published this headline on its business page: Beware Texas: Oil Price Drop Could Lead to 1980s Era Recession.

For those of you not around in the ‘80s, it was a time when plummeting oil prices created an economic disaster for Texas, which was a one-industry state at the time.

Texas oil legends fictionalized by Hollywood in movies like “Giant” or TV shows like “Dallas” saw their massive fortunes disappear overnight. Almost every Texan suffered from this economic disaster, when our unemployment rate was several percentage points higher than the national rate. Falling home prices forced many people into foreclosure, and many small businesses in areas not even related to the energy sector were forced into bankruptcy.

While I’m not an expert on the economic impact of gas prices, here "in Lehman's terms" is what I do know about our current economy and how we learned from our single-industry mistakes.

Since the 1980s, Texas lawmakers have worked tirelessly to diversify our economy to lessen our dependency on oil. These elected officials have not been concerned about partisan labels or immediate post-session victory pronouncements. They have been dedicated to long-term job creation and new steady economic engines designed to bring solid growth to our state. They have also been dedicated to ensuring Texas supplies these new economic models with the infrastructure needed for long-term economic viability, such as transportation, water, and an educated workforce.  

As a result, despite a significant drop in oil prices, we have an economy that’s a little sluggish but still growing. Declines in energy-sector job growth have been enormously overshadowed by significant growth in areas like education, healthcare, technology, manufacturing, and tourism. Most important, new home construction and real estate sales remain positive—major signs of economic stability.

Past and present Texas lawmakers should be commended for their dedication and commitment to this economic diversification. And current elected officials should not be distracted by a political environment where their decisions are immediately posted for public validation in social media. They should continue to work toward the long-term goal of a prosperous Texas.

Politicians are often characterized as elected officials who care only about themselves and the next election, while statesmen are characterized as public servants who focus on the future and its impact on the next generation. For decades the future of Texas has been in the hands of some pretty significant statesmen and stateswomen. Let’s keep it that way.

Mark Lehman is vice president of Governmental Affairs at the Texas Association of REALTORS®.

Categories: In Lehman's Terms
Tags: in lehman's terms, governmental affairs, oil and gas


Jason Hilliard on 04/04/2016

This is a very well written and informative article.  I was a child during the 80’s and my father had a good job so we were fortunate.  However, I had many extended family members who worked in the oil and gas industry who were hit hard.

John Crews on 04/01/2016


I sent you an e-mail suggesting the TREPAC vet all candidates running for state-wide
office.  Did you receive it and, if so, what is your response?

Candy Cargill on 04/01/2016

For one that decided to enter real estate right before the 1980’s BUST…it was something else.  If you could make it through that era, you can do ANYTHING.
It was proof positive that Texas and Texas REALTORS®  can prevail.  It also was and is proof why their (our) relationships with Legislatures is ever so important.
Thank you to TREPAC along with our top notch group in Austin and their fearless Leader Mark Lehman.

Sandy Bednar on 03/30/2016

As usual you hit the nail on the head…...I was here in the 80’s in real estate and it was brutal….....
Keep these articles coming Mark!

Tom Morgan on 03/29/2016

Texans have a lot to be thankful for.  Strong public policy advocates like Mark Lehman and the Texas Association of REALTORS have created a pro-business environment that allows our state to grow regardless of the world economy.  Thank you for bringing the best to Texas!

Cindi Bulla on 03/29/2016

Brilliant observation and analysis. I enjoy your blogs very much, Mark. Thanks to sound forethought and fiscal planning, we are positioned to better weather the ever volatile oil market. Historically low interest rates are helping as well.  TX Realtors, led our ouststanding Governmental Affairs staff, have played a significant role in advocating for the property and business friendly candidates/legislation ensuring that success, past, present and future.  Thank you for your service!

John Harrell on 03/29/2016

Excellent, well-documented piece about the current state of the Texas economy. Yes, the 80’s were challenging, but we had state-level leadership that learned from it and positioned us to better weather the next storm.

Michelle Lewis on 03/29/2016

What a GREAT word for all of our GREAT Realtors in the GREAT state of Texas.
Thank you Mark!

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