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posted on 03 October 2016

Texas Enterprise Zone Benefits For Poor Prove Elusive

from the Dallas Fed

-- this post authored by Wenhua Di and Daniel Millimet

The Texas Enterprise Zone Program, established in the late 1980s, is intended to aid economic development and create and retain jobs in impoverished locations. Projects in designated areas receive tax breaks and other assistance intended to help businesses expand and increase employment.

Ultimately, it is expected that the additional jobs will raise household income and improve residents' financial well-being.

The actual results are mixed. One independent, academic study of the Texas Enterprise Zone Program found that in areas with a roughly 20 percent poverty rate, five to six resident jobs were added annually per designated census block group - a cluster of blocks with 600 to 3,000 people within a census tract.1 Employment effects were greater for lower-paying jobs in construction, manufacturing, retail and wholesale trade industries. Median house values in the zones also increased, while home vacancies decreased.

Another study, written by the authors of this article, asked whether enterprise zone improvements in labor and housing markets resulted in better financial outcomes for residents.2 It found little evidence of a beneficial effect on measures such as residents' credit scores, bankruptcy filings and consumer loan performance.

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