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Comerica Bank: Risk Of Recession For Houston Rising

Low oil prices, a strong dollar, and a real estate glut all threaten the region’s economy in 2016.

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The outlook for Houston's economy is growing murkier as the third quarter of 2015 wraps up.

Speaking at Comerica Bank's quarterly business forum, the bank's chief economist, Robert Dye, offered a grim prediction.

"We are indeed forecasting at least a mild recession for Houston," he said, with "negative job growth, or job losses, through 2016."

The most obvious reason is crude oil prices, which are now less than half what they were a year ago. But there are other factors in play as well.

"I'm very concerned about the overbuilding in apartments," said Patrick Jankowski, senior vice president of research at the Greater Houston Partnership. “I'm very concerned about the overbuilding in office space. I'm concerned that the dollar will continue to strengthen."

The dollar has already risen in value by 20 percent over the past 18 months. That effectively makes Houston's exports 20 percent more expensive for foreign customers than they were a year and a half ago. Jankowski notes that many of the region's major trading partners are experiencing slower growth, further weakening their demand for Houston's goods and services.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew Schneider is the senior reporter for politics and government at Houston Public Media, NPR's affiliate station in Houston, Texas. In this capacity, he heads the station's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments...

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