Houston Public Media

Is The Oil Bust Really Over For Houston?

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For several months now, we’ve heard that Houston is in recovery from the worst oil downturn since the 1980s.

“Certainly, we have turned the corner,” Bill Gilmer, director of the Institute for Regional Forecasting at UH’s Bauer College of Business, said during the institute’s biannual economic symposium. “We have seen the rig count begin some really significant and rampant improvements.”

As oil prices have moved back up in the $50-a-barrel range, oil and gas companies’ revenue is increasing, they’ve started investing in new operations, and some jobs are coming back.

But does that mean Houston’s economy is back on top?

Gilmer said that depends on what’s ahead for the price of oil.

“We’re not going to get good strong growth based on $48 a barrel, where we were this morning,” he said. “So we’re still waiting for that little bit of help from oil just to push us over the line.”

He said besides the national economy, the petrochemical boom of the past few years helped to keep the Houston economy afloat.

But that’s winding down now, making oil all the more important.