Job creation in the United States as a whole continues to improve at a sluggish pace. But consider the state of affairs if Texas wasn’t dragging the nation forward.

A new report by Moody’s Analytics, and featured by Forbes, predicts that seven Texas cities will be among America’s 10 best for projected job growth through 2015. Austin leads the way with an expected 4% annual increase. The next three positions belong to McAllen, Houston, and Fort Worth-Arlington. Positions eight through 10 belong to Dallas, Laredo, and Brownsville.

Many who dismiss Texas’ recent economic dominance as anomalous point to the bounty of oil and natural gas lying beneath our state, noting that not every state is so fortunately positioned. But many states have the ability to benefit from the development of conventional and shale oil and gas resources. Further, the total number of jobs in the oil and gas exploration (captured in the Mining and Logging category) represent a small fraction of Texas’ labor force and net job growth, and are not driving job creation in Austin or the Rio Grande Valley.

A more plausible explanation is to look at the 10 metropolitan areas projected to have the weakest job growth. Three are in states adjacent to Texas, but six are clustered in the Rust Belt between northern Illinois and western New York. Those regions are also situated above shale plays – and in three cases, also above substantial coal deposits – but the broader policy landscape in their states stands in stark contrast to that in Texas. Businesses have a much higher chance of being successful where taxes are low, government spending is restrained, regulation is limited and predictable, and employees have the right to decide whether or not to join a union. The Texas Model incorporates all of those elements, but those are absent in the Rust Belt.

In a modern, mobile economy, people and businesses tend to vote with their feet. On ballot after ballot, Texas remains a consistent winner.