Houston Economic Update – September 2012
This month marks the fourth anniversary of Houston’s entry into the Great Recession. Employment peaked at 2,615,300 jobs in August ’08, with the first job losses reported in September. It was inevitable that Houston would enter the recession, given the problems throughout the global economy. But Houston received an extra push when Hurricane Ike made landfall in mid-September, leaving many businesses and homes without power and disrupting commerce throughout the region.
Over the next 16 months, the 10-county metro area lost 116,900 jobs, one in every 22 in the region. Total wages fell by $5.8 billion, from $37.7 billion in the fourth quarter of ’08 to $31.8 billion in the third quarter of ’09. All industries save two, healthcare and educational services, recorded job losses.
The recovery began in January ’10, when the region reported modest job gains. Momentum built and within 21 months the region had recouped all jobs lost in the recession. The Texas Workforce Commission reported the Houston metro area had 2,616,100 jobs in October ’11, passing its pre-recession peak by 800 jobs. Since then, the region has added 68,900 jobs (seasonally adjusted), an average of 7,700 per month. More people are working in Houston now than at any time in the region’s history.
Almost every indicator suggests Houston’s economy has returned to normal, though in some sectors “normal” may be defined differently now. The current issue of the Greater Houston Partnership’s Economy at a Glance examines four indicators—the Purchasing Managers Index, the North American drilling rig count, home sales and City of Houston sales tax collections—looking at how they tracked during the recession and recovery, and what they suggest about the Houston region’s near-term economic prospects.