Greater Houston added roughly 52,000 jobs between January and May of last year. But from June through December, the metro area gained only 30,000 jobs.
Bill Gilmer heads the Institute for Regional Forecasting at the University of Houston’s Bauer College of Business. He says much of the slowdown comes from lower investment in exploration and production by the upstream oil and gas industry.
“With the collapse in natural gas prices in late 2011, we have seen a big slowdown in those expenditures and in local hiring. And I think that’s a big factor in pulling the job growth here down from 4% early in the year down to about 2% over the last six or seven months here. So there’s reason to be a little bit cautious about going forward, although I think the outlook here still remains very strong.”
Oil and gas extraction added a net 3,000 jobs in Houston over the course of 2013. The only sectors that lost jobs were financial activities and other services.