A handful of independent republics existed at one time or another in what is now the U.S. For example, the Vermont Republic acted as a separate country from 1777 to 1791, four years after the signing of the Constitution.
The state of Muskogee, a multicultural republic of Native Americans, escaped slaves and white settlers located within modern-day Florida, lasted four years before collapsing in 1803 after Spanish forces captured its charismatic leader. Rebels established the California Republic in 1846 in an uprising against Mexican authorities, but the state remained independent for only 25 days before joining the U.S.
Maybe the most remembered of these entities is the Republic of Texas, whose settlers overthrew the Mexican government in 1836. Texas would remain an independent nation until 1845 when continued hostilities with Mexico led the fledgling country to seek annexation into the U.S.
Today, Texas is one of the largest states in the U.S. in terms of population and economic output (No. 2 behind California), as well as land area (No. 2 behind Alaska). If Texas was a sovereign nation, it would rank as the 10th-largest economy in the world with its $1.7 trillion gross domestic product, or the sum of all goods and services, putting it on par with Canada.
Oil remains big business for Texas. More than 40% of all oil produced in the U.S. comes from the Lone Star State. The Texas economy, however, is both strong and diverse. More than 150,000 Texans are employed in the aerospace, aviation and defense sector, or about 9% of all aerospace manufacturing jobs in the U.S. More than 280,000 Texans work for 29,000-plus information-technology companies in the state.
The Lone Star State produced $24.9 billion in agricultural goods in 2017, although that was about half a billion dollars less than five years earlier. The cattle industry accounted for about $12.3 billion of the 2017 total.
Texas has a burgeoning wine industry, producing 4.2 million gallons a year, good for fifth in the nation. The state has about 350 wineries with an economic impact of $13.1 billion, third in the U.S. behind California and New York.
Fifty Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Texas, including Exxon Mobil, AT&T, American Airlines and Halliburton. This number trails only New York and California, which have 54 and 53 of these companies, respectively.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on the Lone Star State. Late this past September, Texas ranked No. 2 in the nation behind California for total cases with more than 750,000, and No. 3 in total deaths (more than 15,500) behind New York and New Jersey.
The median household income for the Lone Star State is $59,570, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The poverty rate is 13.6%. ●
Texas Home Sales
The pandemic put a damper on Texas real estate during the first half of 2020. Closed sales were down year over year by 9.9% in second-quarter 2020, according to Texas Realtors. In the first and second quarters of this year, active listings were down annually by 8.9% and 22%, respectively.
With fewer homes on the market, median home prices for closed sales increased in both of these quarters. The statewide median price for closed sales in the first quarter was $241,500, up 5.1% over the prior 12 months. For the second quarter, the median price was $252,000, up 2.9% year over year, Texas Realtors reported.
The Lone Star State led the nation with 129,000 single-family housing permits in 2019, or 15% of the 862,000 planned single-family home starts in the U.S., according to the National Association of Home Builders. Texas had more building permits than the Northeast and Midwest regions.
The tech industry has deep roots in the Lone Star State. The handheld calculator was invented in the state in 1967 by Texas Instruments. Dell, Tandem and Compaq played pivotal roles in the personal-computer business in the 1980s. Today, virtually every major tech company in the world has a presence in Texas.
Tech companies are clustered around four major hubs — Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and tech darling Austin, which is sometimes referred to as the Silicon Hills. Legacy companies such as Hewlett Packard, Intel, IBM and Apple have offices in the Austin area.
About 270 video-game companies operate in the state, including heavyweights such as Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts and Bethesda Game Studios. About 140 of these companies are in Austin. The state is attempting to lure a U.S. headquarters for Chinese social media company TikTok, according to a September 2020 Houston Chronicle report, a move that could employ another 25,000 people.
What the locals say
“I think the market out here is amazing. [With] Texas and San Antonio being Military City, USA, VA (Veterans Affairs) loans are very steady. [With] military members PCS-ing (permanent change of station) and being a very active part of our community in Texas, we believe that the market is still moving in the right direction and is still stable. I know that COVID made things a little bit strange there for a little bit, but right now in San Antonio, we’ve actually started to experience an inventory shortage.”
Owner, Aligned Mortgage
3 Cities to Watch
The fourth-largest metropolitan area in the U.S. is poised for more growth. Dallas-Fort Worth gained 1.3 million residents in the past decade and now has a population of more than 7.5 million. The area is expected to add another 1.4 million people in the next decade, according to commercial real estate services company Cushman & Wakefield. More than a dozen companies each employ at least 10,000 workers in the Dallas area, including American Airlines, Bank of America and Texas Instruments.
The state capital is known for its live music and bustling bar scene. Both are in danger as the pandemic is threatening to force many of these businesses to close for good. The city is a hub for tech businesses. State government employs nearly 70,000 people. The University of Texas at Austin employs another 25,000. The Austin metro area has added nearly 1 million people in the past 20 years and now has 2.2 million residents. The median household income in the city is $67,462.
In 1901, a self-taught geologist drilled at Spindletop Hill and found the state’s first major oil geyser, ushering in the state’s oil boom. Today, Beaumont and the southeast Texas economy continues to be tied to the oil and gas industry. Beaumont, which sits along the Gulf Coast, also features the fourth-busiest port in the U.S. by total tonnage. The city had a population of 116,825 as of July 2019, a slight decline over the past decade. The median household income is $47,144.
Sources: Austin American-Statesman; Austin Business Journal; Austin Chamber of Commerce; Beaumont Enterprise; Built in Austin; City of Austin; Dallas Chamber of Commerce; Forbes; Fortune; History.com; Houston Chronicle; National Association of American Wineries; National Association of Home Builders; State Symbols USA; Statista; Technical.ly; Texas Department of Agriculture; Texas Economic Development Corp.; Texas Realtors; The New York Times; Trip Trivia; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics; U.S. Census Bureau; U.S. Energy Information Administration