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Area job growth in 2012

We’ve seen a prediction for job growth in Texas for this year, now here’s some soothsaying about job growth in the Houston area for the year.

Jobs and job growth for the region (Source: Greater Houston Parnership)

The Greater Houston Partnership predicts the Houston area will add 84,600 jobs this year. Some economic observers are speculating the estimate may be conservative – especially since the most recent data from the Texas Workforce Commission shows that Houston-area employers created 87,900 from November 2010 to November 2011.

We asked experts in finance, real estate, recruiting and economic development to assess the area economic picture. Here is what they said:

Q: Where is Houston’s economy headed in 2012?

A: “I think it’s headed up,” said James Weston, associate professor of finance at Rice University. “Everything I see points to a return to moderate economic growth.”

He ticked off the factors: Energy prices are stable; housing prices were essentially flat in Houston last year even as they fell nationwide; and Houston is adding jobs at a faster clip than the nation as a whole.

The likelihood of a double-dip recession – which was a worry not that long ago – has faded, he added.

Regina Morales, director of economic development for the city of Sugar Land, characterized 2011 as the year of recovery, when the region regained the jobs it lost during the recession.

“Now we’re poised for expansion in 2012,” said Morales, who predicted that energy, technology, health care, education and food service will drive the growth.

The real estate community looks at job growth, and those 87,900 new jobs last year are a good sign, said Bruce McClenny, president of Apartment Data Services, which gathers information on pricing, occupancy and rents on apartments.

Job growth is tied directly to the demand for multifamily housing, especially from people who are moving to Houston from other states and new college graduates.

That sets the stage for the same kind of growth in 2012, McClenny said.

Here the distinction between the city of Houston and the greater Houston area is made more clearly than in the earlier story about real estate projections. Note that the region has about a quarter of the state’s population but nearly half of its projected job growth for the year. Either one of those projections is out of whack or the state isn’t in such great shape overall. The story also notes the likelihood of flat property tax revenues and a continued shrinking of the government sector. Some different policy decisions, mostly but not entirely at the state level, could have led to a better outcome, but it’s way too late for any of that now. Maybe we’ll get lucky with sales tax revenues and not have as big a problem this year. We can hope, anyway.

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3 Comments

  1. Fernando says:

    When was the last time the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) or the City of Houston has provided job projections that were specific to the city of Houston (city limits)?

    The GHP and Annise Parker are speaking of the 10 country region (the Metropolitan Statistical Area) when they refer to the Houston “area”. The city of Houston isn’t gaining jobs, we’re bleeding jobs–1,500 Continental Airlines, 3,800 NASA JSC, 5,000 Exxon, just to name a few.

    Are we to expect our great HISD to attract middle to upper middle class families to move into the city limits? How bout that new rain tax? What about the model of efficiency permit process? Oh…less crime. We should at least have good day cares in Houston, Council is about to vote on spending over $2 million on day care projects.

    These are just some of the reasons unincorporated Harris County is developing 6 times faster than the city limits of Houston.

    How long can Houston continue to deflect the decisons of our “leadership”?

  2. robert kane says:

    Fernando… good points, In researching “problems” of Houston over the last 20 years….they have remained constant, each year politicians promising the same things will be corrected yet people vote in the same type of person…. (the country as a whole has the same problem).

    When I ran, people thought I always sounded negative, but I was just being pragmatic, in my mind.

    I’m not sure what we can expect….maybe miracles at this point??

    I’ve met Charles Kuffner and see him as a very pragmatic person as well…..think we could convince him to run for something….I’d vote for him.

  3. Ross says:

    I suspect the ExxonMobil jobs at the new campus will end up in the City of Houston. I can’t imagine the City not annexing a non-voting commercial development like that.

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