Houston seems to be a favorite subject of national media these days. But perhaps it’s good hear about the Houston economy from those that are actually living it day to day. Here are six reasons I think Houston’s economy is working so well…
1) Houston didn’t have much of a housing boom last decade, so it’s less likely that we’d have a housing bust in the near future.
2) Health care jobs are growing. We’re still on the leading edge of Baby Boomer retirements, so it’s reasonable to think that any city that has a strong health care center is only going to see more growth in coming years. Plus, with the ACA and a massive Medicaid expansion (even without Texas at this point) the need for doctors, nurses and other health workers is stronger than ever. Makes sense that ever since I’ve moved here, the Medical Center has always been dotted with cranes.
3) Port of Houston shipping strength. As home to one of the nation’s largest ports, and one of the largest freight rail hubs, Houston is well-positioned to take advantage of our nation’s growing shipping industry. And grow it shall… once completed in 2015, the widening of the Panama Canal is expected to double it’s traffic capacity. The Port of Houston has spent millions to get ready for it, so all signs point to a busier shipping industry in the Bayou City.
4) Energy diversification. Sure… having oil and energy-related jobs be nearly half of your economy may not sound “diverse” but it’s a heck of a lot better off than the mid-1980s, when oil made up 87 percent of the Houston economy. Plus the jobs themselves are different now. Far fewer of the strictly industrial labor sector, and more people that are engineers and specialists, the future of the energy industry.
5) Good governance. Our current city government has been a good steward of public money, and as a result we are investing in our transit system, schools, parks, bike trails and infrastructure at an impressive rate. With programs like Hire Houston First, these investments are creating jobs for local companies. Under Mayor Annise Parker’s leadership, things are getting done at City Hall.
6) Immigration reform? As Texas’ second largest metropolitan area, Houston has a particularly special interest in our nation’s immigration system. If done well (let’s be honest… if done AT ALL), the recognition of the US’ undocumented population is going to bring over 11 million people into legal, working status. And that’s going to create some serious jobs. Houston is home to a large population of immigrants legal and otherwise, so we stand at the forefront of CIR’s effects.
I’m cautious to use terms like “economic boom” because anything can happen. But it’s fair to say that Houston is on a strong economic path for the next few years. So don’t believe the hype… instead, just look at the facts.