Monday, June 03, 2013

National press continues its Houston love-fest, the essence of our competitive advantage, and more

Another round of smaller misc items this week:
  • Gotta love it: 17 Reasons Why Houston Is The Best City In America in Business Insider magazine.  I'm disappointed that the lack of zoning, a major feature IMHO, is buried under the "international trade" point for some reason.
  • The BBC on 10 reasons so many people are moving to Texas.  I agree with all of them, although #6 is overblown, and #10 is under-appreciated.  Hat tip to Joel.
  • Houston Is Unstoppable: Why Texas' Juggernaut Is America's #1 Job Creator in The Atlantic.  "Houston is blessed by topography and geography. But the city's recent success is really a masterclass in learning from history."  Good explanation of how Houston insulated it from the deep national and global recession and is dominating other cities in terms of job growth since the crash.  Hat tip to Veronica.
  • How the population of Houston breaks down geographically.  Surprisingly, less than 2% of our recent growth has been inside the loop. I found it interesting that the numbers break down so cleanly: about a half-million inside the loop, 1.5 million to the beltway, 2 million outside the beltway but inside Harris County, and then another 2 million outside the county but in the MSA.  Of course you have to think of those numbers as odometers that are constantly growing... ;-)
  • Houston has been ranked as the #4 best performing big city in the country for 2012, and Richard Florida gives his analysis, including "Houston, which has one of the largest concentrations of IT workers and software engineers in the country, is a case study of how resources and ideas can go together to generate growth."  Hat tip to Jessie.
Finally, this interesting graph from The Economist magazine showing life satisfaction as it relates to income in different countries.  This gets to the essence of Houston's competitive advantage: our low cost of living moves people further up these lines even with modest incomes.  News flash: People are just plain happier when their salary goes further (surprise!).

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At 4:06 PM, June 04, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Out of curiosity, is there data on the extent to which Greater Houston shares Houston's lack of zoning?

Like, I've read The Woodlands continues to find new ways to put off incorporation as a city, and if I'm remembering stuff I've read correctly, a lot of the expansion of powers for MUDs in state legislation is because Northwest Houston really, really doesn't want increase taxes either. But what about the eastern suburbs, or Fort Bend?

At 4:30 PM, June 04, 2013, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

Unincorporated counties in Texas are essentially unzoned. The Woodlands has extensive deed restrictions. Pretty much all other cities in the Houston metro are zoned, but even all-together they don't represent that much population out of the metro area.

At 12:20 AM, June 07, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haha, I should check back here more often - I had to do a ton of reading to find out what you stated so succinctly. Thank goodness I enjoy this kind of research!

I had no idea exactly how much of Houston lived in unincorporated MUDs - all the talk about Northwest Houston's future makes much more sense, now; also how so many people live in the county "proper," rather than any neighboring cities: Houston's ETJ is *huge*... Random question: to your knowledge, is there widescale social awareness of the divide, a sort of Harris County versus Northwest Houston community rivalry? Or does everyone sort of just talk about inside and outside the loop?

At 3:14 PM, June 07, 2013, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

Inside vs. outside the loop is the most common lingo, but I do think people are generally aware of whether they live inside the city limits or not. I think there is a little bit of a community rivalry, since the unincorporated areas of the Harris County lean Republican and the City of Houston leans Democratic, and that's reflected in the County Commissioners Court vs. City Council.


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