On a roll in rankings and the national mediaI've heard of the, well, "herd mentality" in the national media, but it seems to be definitely the case with Houston lately. We've been getting all sorts of attention, and it seems to be snowballing. First, some recent rankings.
Forbes just ranked Houston the third-best city for young professionals (city profile), behind SF and Boston (Hat tip to HAIF). That puts some pretty high profile cities behind us: #4 NYC, #6 Chicago, #9 Austin, and #18 Dallas (poor Tampa came in last). They base it on high-powered business opportunities for 25-35 year-olds, and they look at success in attracting graduates from top universities. It helped us a lot that they include Rice in the universities they track along with Stanford, Princeton, Harvard, Duke and Northwestern. This year they stopped penalizing cities and states that attract their own grads, so we shot up from #16 to #3 with all those Rice grads, along with high salaries, a low cost of living, and plenty of singles. There's been a lot of fretting over the years that Houston can't attract grads from top schools, but this data seems to put that to rest.
"Anyone who follows the news knows that materials and energy companies have had a good year, and there's a high concentration of the nation's best geospace engineering firms, oil and gas operations companies, and oceanic exploration companies in Houston. Despite its size, the city ranked eighth for the number of graduates it was able to attract from the class of 1998."Houston is also now Inc.'s #4 best big city for business, behind Raleigh-Durham, Austin, and Salt Lake City, and moving up 13 places from last year (rankings, story). We're the highest ranked of the mega-cities with over a million jobs. Hat tip to Joel.
And our final ranking: Houston ranked #1 for manufacturing jobs. Hat tip to Brian.
The Texas Ascendancy Continues
While California is struggling, says Los Angeles-based architect David Hidalgo, Texas is thriving. Hidalgo just completed a large Latino-themed shopping center in Ft. Worth and sees more of his business coming from the Lone Star State. "That's where the opportunities are," he says. "Its costs, regulation, and infrastructure drive you to Texas."
Our rankings certainly bear out Hidalgo's assertion. In many ways Texas has become the new Florida, dominating the top of the list. Among the largest metro areas, a remarkable five of the top 12 best places to do business are from the Lone Star State, ranging from Austin (No. 2) and Houston (No. 4) to Ft. Worth (No. 9) and Dallas (No. 12). Among the small cities, Midland, now ranks No. 1, up 10 places from last year. Odessa and Longview, both big gainers, round out the Texas stronghold on the top portion of the list.
Texas' boom reflects solid growth in a variety of industries, from energy and agriculture to manufacturing and trade. "The big difference for Texas is we did not rely on the real estate bubble," suggests Bill Gilmer, a Houston-based economist for the Federal Reserve. "Our gains are based on jobs elsewhere and that has insulated us pretty well."
"Texas is home to 24,273 manufacturers employing 1,225,585 workers, ranking second in the nation for number of manufacturing jobs and plants, just behind California. The state accounts for 62 percent of the Southwest's manufacturing jobs and 55 percent of the region's manufacturers.The rankings aren't the only national press we're getting.
Houston alone currently accounts for 222,072 industrial jobs -- comparable to the number of manufacturing jobs for the entire state of Oregon. Houston saw employment drop by 1.6 percent over the year, but still ranks first in the nation for number of manufacturing jobs, according to the report."
- Bloomberg has story on Houston's growth and renewal in downtown and midtown. Hat tip to Anthony.
- The UK Telegraph, "Houston has lift-off as oil price rises."
- The Chicago Tribune, "Houston doesn't have a problem."
"Houston's newfound energy prosperity comes on top of other economic advantages the nation's fourth-largest city has long possessed. Tax rates are low, as is the cost of living, and the city's political climate is aggressively pro-business—officials steadfastly resist imposing zoning laws, for example, because they could crimp development."
"To the extent that Houston is the energy capital of the world, [it] is not because we have a lot of hardhats, but because we have a lot of technology," said Barton A. Smith, director of the Institute for Regional Forecasting.
- ABC News, "Houston: The U.S. Boomtown."
Finally, in case you missed it, the Chronicle's own Lisa Falkenberg says taking our boom times for granted is a dangerous attitude:
Or, as the local bumper stickers used to say,
The fact is Houston's bubble can be popped. Each time we've managed to convince ourselves that the next big thing — tech, real estate, oil — was an invincible industry, we've been proved wrong.
"You know, there's probably a good reason for Houston to be looking over its shoulder just a little right now," says Bill Gilmer, senior economist and vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
As tempting as it is to bask in the fairytale stories of Maserati sales, we should face the crude truth. One of the surest ways to bust a boom is to actually buy into it.
"Please Lord, give us one more oil boom. I promise not to blow it next time."Time to hold up our end of the bargain...