Update on the Houston and Texas economy
Came across this interesting report
("Texas is Feeling Heat from the Housing Slump") from Wachovia profiling the Texas economy (hat tip to Hugh). A graph on page one profiles the major Texas Triangle cities since 2001, with Houston and San Antonio as big winners - mainly because we took almost no hit from the tech crash. Both Austin and Dallas tanked hard after the tech crash, but both have bounced back - Austin particularly strongly.
Houston also saw growth pick up a little earlier than the rest of the state. Strong global economic growth boosted demand for all types of energy products and set off a boom in the energy business. The technology sector also came back relatively solidly and healthcare continues to be a major growth engine. Job growth in the Houston area consistently ranks near the top of any major metropolitan area in the country and recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that gains have been slightly understated.
Page 10 focuses on Houston. Some key excerpts:
Houston is currently one the nation’s strongest job markets, with hiring up across nearly every industry. Growth in business and professional services, especially those related to energy exploration and development, remains exceptionally strong. The region’s vital health care industry is also seeing solid gains, leading to expansions at several area hospitals. ...
Population growth surged in 2006, reflecting an influx of new residents from New Orleans. Growth should return to its preexisting trend in coming years.
Home prices are rising modestly and remain a relative bargain compared to most other major business centers. But not even Houston’s robust economy can escape the effects of the housing slump. Sales and new construction have softened recently, although sales are holding up better than most other areas. ...
Nearly 4.7 million square feet of office space have been absorbed through the first nine months of this year. With little speculative space coming online, office vacancy rates have fallen to just 10.5 percent in downtown Houston and 12.1 percent in the suburbs. Strong demand for space has sent rents dramatically higher, particularly in the downtown area. Growing trade through the Port of Houston is driving gains in wholesale trade and distribution. Demand for industrial space remains exceptionally strong, particularly for well located, large industrial centers. Retail expansions are fueling demand for shopping centers, although the pace of expansions is slowing.
Impressive, but imagine the new downtown towers that would be under construction if Enron hadn't imploded. It alone cleared two buildings, not including all the other energy trading firms that crashed in their wake. They're bouncing back now
, but downtown certainly would have evolved differently if they hadn't gone away in the first place...
Labels: economy, growth