Aug 17, 2022 - Business

Houston sees job growth despite an uncertain economy

Houston metro area employment
Data: Texas Workforce Commission; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Houston had record job growth in the first six months of this year, even surpassing numbers seen in the oil boom years in the early 1980s and 2010s.

Why it matters: There has been a lot of talk and fear about the looming recession, and though the rise of inflation and interest rates is very real, the job numbers show that Houston's local economy is still growing, according to Patrick Jankowski, the senior vice president of research at the Greater Houston Partnership.

Yes, but: Other economic indicators have pointed to slow growth, Jankowski said.

Details: Houston created 85,000 jobs in the first half of this year.

  • Most of the sectors, including restaurants, arts, finance and health care, have reached or surpassed their pre-pandemic employment numbers.
  • Energy, manufacturing, hotels, real estate and construction industries are still catching up.

Quick take: Houston has recovered despite the struggles in the energy sector, suggesting that the city is no longer as dependent on oil and gas as it once was.

Between the lines: A chunk of the job growth can be attributed to pandemic recovery. However, the job expansion is also reflective of how Houston's exports are growing, warehouse and distribution centers are spreading and people are still moving to the city, according to Jankowski.

  • "When people come here, they're going to need a house or an apartment or they're going to need to buy groceries or buy furniture," Jankowski said. "By them coming here, they are a new worker. That's one of the reasons why the workforce has expanded while many other metros aren't having the benefit of an expanding workforce."

Of note: Most of the recent mass layoffs have been at a national level concentrated in the tech and digital currency sectors. Jankowski says those job cuts are not a sign of a local slowdown and almost none impacts Houston.

What we're watching: Growth has slowed, but it should continue, for now.

  • "We have enough momentum to carry us through the end of the year," Jankowski said. "There's no danger of us thinking there's recession in 2022. For 2023, I have less clarity."
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