Houston Public Media

Houston’s Economy Will See ‘Moderate’ Growth Without An Oil Rebound

Crude oil storage tanks along Beltway 8 in the Houston area. The city’s economy, though diverse, is still closely tied to oil and gas activity.

A new economic forecast indicates Houston’s economy is growing, but not as fast as it usually does.

Unless oil drilling ramps up, the city will continue to see only “moderate” growth. That’s according to Bill Gilmer, head of the Institute for Regional Forecasting at the University of Houston.

In his latest forecast, Gilmer said that unless there is a big uptick in the oil sector, the city will likely only see about 40,000 new jobs over the next year.

“Even without oil and gas, we have still sub-par, on Houston standards, growth and growth in employment,” he said, noting that 60,000 new jobs is an average year for the city.

Still, Houston has fared the oil downturn pretty well. Gilmer’s forecast points to 97,000 jobs in other sectors like restaurants, retail and education since oil prices dropped in 2013. Cities like Pittsburgh or Detroit, Gilmer said, would be happy to see those numbers.

“It looks like a pretty dismal outcome, but it’s hardly the end of the world,” he said.

“Even if oil and gas don’t come back for a couple of years, we’re still seeing slow to moderate growth here in Houston.”

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