Tag Archives: Port of Houston

Movin: Houston Named Number 1 Exporter in US

Some more welcomed economic news for a city that is already on the move… literally and figuratively. From the Houston Chronicle, Houston has surpassed New York City to become the number 1 metro for exports in the United States…

The Houston metropolitan area has become the nation’s top exporter for the first time, pushed by growing shipments of petroleum products, the Department of Commerce reports.

About $110.3 billion in merchandise shipped from the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown area in 2012, rising nearly 6 percent from the year before. The region surpassed New York City’s $102 billion in exports to grab the title of top U.S. exporter.

Petroleum and coal products were the largest group of exports from the Houston area, totaling $36.6 billion in value. Another $31.2 billion worth of chemicals left the region, according to the department’s report this week.

Other major exports from the Houston area included non-electrical machinery at $15.2 billion, and computer and electronic products at $6.7 billion.

Our North American neighbors were the top importers of Houston-area shipments, with $17.2 billion going to Mexico and $11.4 billion to Canada. The next-biggest destinations were Brazil, which received $6.6 billion in Houston-area exports, and China, which received $5.2 billion.

Given that the Bayou City was able to garner the top spot even before the much- anticipated Panama Canal Expansion, Houston has some room to grow yet. Though China’s economy may be headed for a slow- down, Brazil and other South American countries appear to be increasing demand for American exports. It seems as though Mayor Annise Parker’s trade missions to Brazil are reaping some serious benefits in the Houston economy. Funny how that happens when government and the private sector cooperate.

The only sour note here… it’s great for our massive energy companies in Houston to be doing so well, but would it kill them to put some more of that money back into the local economy. How about joining forces with the city to help us fix our roads and sidewalks? After all, if you’re company is based here, it’s your employees that are using (and abusing) our infrastructure along with everyone else.

(Photo credit: Craig Washburn)


Obamanomics: Helping or Hurting Houston?

Houston’s Strong Economy: Why It’s More Than Just Hype

Houston’s Strong Economy: Why It’s more than just Hype

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.

Obamanomics… Helping or hurting Houston?

So we see the jobs reports on the first Friday of each month, and everyone inhales and holds their breath for just a second. If the unemployment rate goes down, we breathe a sigh of relief. If it ticks up, we wonder what happened.

Over the past few months, the economy has started to pick up steam. Have we had a full recovery yet?? No, of course not. Is there still much to be done? Yes, yes yes. But as we’re in the throws of electomania, I thought it was important to see if any of the recent job growth we are having is sustainable, and how it’s affecting Houston. More specifically, have policies of the Obama administration made any difference for our city?

One of the President’s main economic goals (LONG overshadowed by the bloody healthcare fight, the oil spill, and a bunch of other things) was to get Americans actually making things again. Not only would we make more of our own goods, but actually start to sell those goods to other countries. In the 2010 State of the Union, President Obama set a goal to double US exports by 2014. So far as of 2011 U.S. exports have risen by a whopping 34 percent… well ahead of schedule to meet the original goal. China, in particular, has begun to take notice and buy American goods. According to the US-China Business Council, US exports to China have eclipsed the $100 Billion dollar mark, and it is once again our third largest export market. California is the leading state to export to the rapidly developing nation, but Texas comes in at a surprising 3rd place.

So how does this good news translate to jobs in Houston?? We were already one of the nation’s strongest exporters, but under the Obama administration, export activity in our city has continued to grow, and diversify. Take the Port of Houston, for example. A big expansion of the Panama Canal should be complete by 2014. As a result, shipping volume at the Port of Houston is expected to grow between 20 and 35 percent. it certainly was a wound on Houston pride to lose our beloved Continental to the United merger, but IAH’s new role as the lead hub for the world’s largest airline is quickly elevating our cities statue in the air travel world.

On a landmark trip to Brazil, Houston mayor Annise Parker signed major trade and cooperation deals with the cities of Sao Paulo and Rio De Janerio. As the most rapidly developing economy in Western Hemisphere, these deals could be very lucrative for Houston and Texas’s future. Mayor Parker’s initiative in this respect will surely be remembered as a highlight of her administration.

The groundwork for Parker’s recent trade mission was actually laid by President Obama, as he visited the country last year. Though his trip wasn’t quite as “smooth sailing” as the mayor, this action and similar deals with other emerging markets are sound economic maneuvers that will continue to encourage job growth in America. Houston is a significant part of the success of the USA, and under Obama’s Presidency, Houston and Texas will continue to prosper. So the job growth we’re all seeing and feeling?? It’s no bull.