A reader writes:
Your reader comparing Beloit and San Antonio is leaving one major component out of the comparison: military spending. San Antonio is home to four large bases (Brooks, Sam Houston, Lackland, and Randolph) while Beloit has... a National Guard armory.
Texas years ago enacted strict laws governing exotic and aggressive mortgages (e.g. no IO loans, no 10% down, maybe no liar loans either). As a result, there was no housing-price boom and subsequent bust in Texas. If it were simply the immigrant reason assumed by your reader, California would hardly be bankrupt.
I, too, am a college student from Texas who attends school out of state, and I can corroborate your reader's story. I go to school in Los Angeles, where the recession seems to be absolutely crippling the city. Traffic has almost disappeared and a ton of homes near USC are in foreclosure. Right before heading home for the summer, I drove by a line that stretched for a block and a half. Those people were waiting for hours outside to interview for a single job at a restaurant as a waiter.
By contrast, I came home this summer to San Angelo, TX, where nobody acts like a recession is happening. Construction on new houses is still ongoing at roughly the same pace it has been for the past 5 years. In fact, all of West Texas has been left relatively untouched by the recession. Lubbock, for example, has 2% unemployment. Even Houston, Dallas, and Austin haven't been hit nearly as hard as the rest of the nation.
My theory is that the Texas economy - primarily based on energy and agriculture - is fundamentally different than other states. Thus, the economy in the Lone Star State is, at its core, mainly responsive to rainfall and commodity prices.