HOUSTON – It’s all about oil in Houston right now. The drop in oil prices this time last year continues to send ripples throughout Houston’s economy.
At the University of Houston’s Institute for Regional Forecasting Fall Symposium on Thursday economist Bill Gilmer gave an outlook difficult for optimists to swallow, noting Houston is in a serious downturn (not recession) and the hope for a quick recovery is fading. If Houston has another year of weak job growth, which Gilmer warns is possible, the downturn has more time to spread beyond the oil & gas sector.
Thus far in 2015 Houston has added 14,700 jobs, says the Texas Workforce Commission, and the lion share of losses resulted from energy and manufacturing sectors. But health care, retailers and hotels are doing just fine. The last two years of population growth left Houston with tremendous amounts of built up momentum in the economy, says Gilmer. Some disagree with a gloomy outlook for those sectors driven by population growth – particularly the Houston retail market which is just beginning to develop retail to provide services to Houston’s growing population.
Gilmer’s predictions for next year? Slow job growth again, about 27,000 but a nice recovery to look forward to rebounding to 90,000 jobs in 2017.