HOUSTON – (By Ralph Bivins, Realty News Report) – The Houston economy created 101,800 jobs in the 12-month period ending in July, the strongest job-growth pace in over three years, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.
Construction jobs contributed 25,500 new jobs to the total. Repairs and construction related to the recovery from Hurricane Harvey, which struck Houston a year ago, have created the demand for construction tradesmen. Houston also ranks second in the nation, behind Dallas, in single-family home building.
The new job growth number was the biggest since February of 2015, when the local economy was slipping due to a decline in oil prices. A year ago, in the summer of 2017, the Houston economy was dragging along with job growth around a 30,000 annual pace.
Another positive sign for Houston is recovery of the energy industry.
“The downturn in the oil industry is finally over,” the Greater Houston Partnership said in its “The Economy at a Glance” report released last week.
West Texas Intermediate crude is now $66.43 a barrel, a healthy price that makes drilling a profitable proposal in most cases. In early 2016, oil bottomed out when it fell below $30 a barrel. By comparison, in the summer of 2014 when oil was at its peak, oil hit $107 a barrel.
Drilling is back. The domestic rig count is over 1,050, up from 949 rigs at this time last year and less than 500 rigs in 2016.
Houston hasn’t regained the 86,000 jobs it lost during this recent energy downturn. But things are improving, even though job growth has not translated into the kind of job growth that fills office space. Over the last 12 months, some 2 million SF of Houston office space became vacant in a phenomena that’s called “negative net absorption” in the commercial real estate industry.
It’s been a year since Hurricane Harvey dumped 50 inches of rain on Houston. Although the city’s recovery has not been completed, the economy is improving. Bankruptcies are declining. Home sales are strong. Job growth is excellent. And it feels like Houston has emerged from a dark period.