Houston Economic Update: August 2010

by CoyDavidson on August 2, 2010

Private Sector Reports Strong Job Growth in June

The Greater Houston Partnership released its August 2010 Economic Report with the most notable highlight being that Houston added jobs for a fifth straight month. The Texas Workforce Commission reports that the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown Metropolitan Statistical Area created 600 net new jobs in the month of June, marking the fifth consecutive month of job gains.

More importantly, the private sector created 13,100 jobs in June with solid gains in several sectors that were offset by losses in the government sector as Census workers finish their contracts and educational employment dropped because of teachers and support staff on 10-month contracts. The offset illustrates the challenge of working with seasonally unadjusted employment data.

Changes over the past 12 months or from a specific point in time offer a better insight into employment trends.

  • For the 12 months ending June ’10, the Houston region lost 17,400 jobs, or a loss of 0.7 percent. As recently as December, the 12 month loss was 92,500 jobs, or 3.5 percent.
  • Private sector employment peaked at 2,268,500 jobs in August ’08 and trended downward for 17 months, bottoming out at 2,106,100 jobs in January ’10. Since January, the private sector has regained 42,700 of the 162,000 private sector jobs lost in the recession or about 26 percent of the total. Again, these are seasonally unadjusted numbers.

Unemployment Rate — Houston’s June unemployment rate stood at 8.8 percent slightly above the employment rate of Texas of 8.5%, but below the national unemployment rate of 9.6%. The unemployment rate for Austin was 7.4 percent, for Dallas-Fort Worth, 8.5 percent, and for San Antonio 7.1 percent.

Additional Highlights from the Report:

New Vehicle Sales Up: Total monthly sales volume of new cars, trucks and SUVs in the Houston region increased from 13,474 vehicles in June ’09 to 16,642 vehicles in June ’10, a 23.5 percent increase over the same month last year.

Houston Airport System Posts Gain: The Houston Airport System posted year-to-year gains in passenger volume and air freight in June ’10.

Postings and Foreclosures Drop: Harris County foreclosures totaled 1,252 in July ’10, down 2.0 percent from July ’09, while July ’10 postings totaled 4,092, down 8.4 percent from last July

Foreign Trade Continues to Rise: The Houston-Galveston Customs District handled foreign trade valued at $18.3 billion in May, up 42 percent from $12.8 billion in May ’09, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Oil Prices Remain Strong: The Friday closing spot market price for West Texas Intermediate crude oil (WTI) averaged 77.49 a barrel for the first half of ’10, compared to $57.11 for the first half of ’09. The Friday closing spot market price of Henry Hub natural gas averaged $4.80 per MMBtu for the first half of ‘10, compared to $4.08 for the first half of ’09.

There continues to be quite a bit of speculation regarding the impact of the Oil Drilling Moratorium. However, that situation is very fluid and several organizations have outlined multiple scenarios regarding its projected impact on Houston. The impact of the B.P. Spill and the Deepwater Drilling Moratorium remains a question mark.
Houston Economy at a Glance August 2010

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