Bauer Business Focus

Bill Gilmer On The Greater Houston Jobs Outlook For 2016

The region has already lost tens of thousands of jobs in oil exploration, energy services, and manufacturing. This year, layoffs are likely to spread to other industries.

Bill Gilmer
Bill Gilmer, Director, Institute of Regional Forecasting, Bauer College of Business, University of Houston

Low oil prices are taking an ever broader toll on the Houston economy. There’s little chance those prices will recover any time soon. So what’s in store for Greater Houston in 2016? Bill Gilmer is director of the Institute for Regional Forecasting at the University of Houston’s Bauer College of Business.  He joins Andrew Schneider on this week’s Bauer Business Focus.

Interview Highlights:

How has the drop in oil prices affected businesses outside the oil and natural gas sector?

“Late last year, if you asked, ‘Have you felt anything?’ the answer was, ‘No, I haven’t felt a thing. We’re not in the oil business, you know.’ And that might have been because [of] the U.S. economy – the AIG unit over on the Allen Parkway, if they’re Sysco, the big food distributor, they sell into national markets, which are doing well. It might be because they’re working on the East Side of Houston in the petrochemical business. And it might be that they’ve benefited from the kind of momentum that had built up here in Houston. We added 650,000 jobs in Houston since 2003, and just because the job growth machine shut down, which it did quickly with the fall in oil prices, it doesn’t mean that forward momentum stopped.”

Where do you see Houston’s economy going over the rest of 2016?

“This year, that forward momentum is going to be behind us… So without help from oil in the coming year, we’re going to kind of see that oil stain spread through the rest of the economy. We’re already seeing big concessions being made in apartments [construction and rents]. We’re seeing a slowdown … in existing home sales, and frankly the new home builders missed the market. They built for this influx of high-end professionals and energy executives moving to town, and so they’ve been caught with a big inventory of the wrong kind of houses on the ground right now… And I think a lot of secondary industries, even down to the retail level, are going to feel this slowdown in 2016.”

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas delegations in the U.S. House and Senate, as well as the Texas governorship, the state legislature, and county and city governments. Before taking up his current post, Andrew...

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