Friday, July 10, 2009

Houston's impressive GDP ranking + a survey

The NY Times had an interesting story yesterday about how the transportation stimulus funding is overly biased towards rural areas, which doesn't surprise me at all given the geographic nature of politics and the obvious fact that a road network will be more expensive per capita for a dispersed population than a concentrated one. We have more people inside the 610 Loop than in the entire state of Wyoming - whose road network do you think is more expensive to build and maintain?

But the really interesting item from the story was the graph below. Not because it shows Houston underperformed securing transportation stimulus vs. most other cities (inc. DFW), but because of the interesting GDP share numbers. (you can click on the graphic to see a larger more readable version)

Note that we are the 5th largest GDP metro in the country, and ahead of DFW and Philly, even though they have larger populations. Atlanta and Miami have similar populations to us, but are significantly farther behind in GDP. San Francisco and Boston, which are 1 to 1.5 million smaller than us, but packed with highly productive, educated, creative class types still end up notably below us in GDP share - and Detroit, Phoenix, and Riverside with populations similar to both of them fall well below them in GDP. LA has more than twice our population, but less than twice our GDP share. Chicago has 67% more people than us, but only 41% more GDP share. We even slightly edge out NYC proportional to our populations.

All in all, Houston punches above its class on GDP - lots of high wage and productive jobs. Not bad.

One quick pass along from the city:
The City of Houston is interested in your opinion

In the City of Houston's ongoing efforts to provide better customer service, would you please take a moment to fill out a detailed citizen survey

Houston City Controller Annise D. Parker is gathering the data and once the results are tabulated, they will be available at

Through both random telephone surveys and online participation, the goal is to have at least 200 respondents in each of the city's nine geographic city council districts, for a minimum of 1,800 completed questionnaires; please forward this email to others to give their feedback also.

Take the Houston Citizen Survey by visiting
We need weigh-in by the intelligent readers of this blog who understand our city's strengths and want to preserve them, as well as put the focus on the right weaknesses we need to address - so please take a few minutes and fill it out today.

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At 10:51 AM, July 10, 2009, Anonymous Chris said...

I'll e-mail you that Glaeser/Resseger paper I wrote about. It plots productivity against city size; Houston clearly outperforms Atlanta and Dallas and Los Angeles. Since productivity = GDP / # of workers, this isn't a surprise.

At 1:14 PM, July 10, 2009, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

Cool. Thanks! Looking forward to it.

At 4:17 PM, July 13, 2009, Blogger Unknown said...

One would think that the energy sector has a great deal to do with the GDP numbers for Houston vs. the other cities...check GDP out when the oil industry is in the tank and see where it shakes out...might be a different story!


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