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Houston Economist Bill Gilmer’s Forecast: 2017 Will Be No Winner

HOUSTON – Sobering predictions came out of the Institute for Regional Forecasting Fall Symposium Thursday by Houston economist Dr. Bill Gilmer of the University of Houston.

Gilmer, in a presentation before hundreds at the Hyatt Regency hotel ballroom, said Houston has been moving through a mild recession that has been obscured by a revision in governmental reporting of job growth.

Houston went from the biggest oil boom ever into the most severe oil bust in just 18 months — rig  counts fell 80 percent and all together Houston lost 80,000 energy-related jobs.  The drastic swing likely sent the Energy Capital of the World into a mild recession, he said.

But Gilmer, the Director of the IRF, said the recession territory is likely already behind us and “if you’re going to have one that’s the best place to put it.”

Gilmer is forecasting weak employment growth in 2017 that will probably lead to  paltry job growth of 4,500 jobs, or even drift lower – or please the optimists with a slightly higher number.

While Houston’s energy employment will never return to the high levels seen in the fracking boom, hiring trends should begin to turn around beginning in 2018. Missing from the economy will thousands of construction jobs that have been provided by massive chemical plant construction and other construction projects that will soon be finished.

So the Houston economy is poised for another slow year in 2017, but probably better than this year, Gilmer said.

Although it is early to speculate about the economic impact of the future Trump administration, but Gilmer said election results will not have a short-term impact on the local economy.

Nov. 11, 2016 Realty News Report Copyright 2016

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