Economic Index Shows 15th Slow Month, With Some Bright Spots

The Houston Purchasing Managers Index rose slightly, but it’s still below the point which generally indicates contraction. This marks the 15th straight month of slower economic activity.


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The Houston PMI, as reported by area supply chain leaders, rose from its February level of 44.5 to 45.9 in March. Readings below 50 generally indicate coming contraction.

“It absolutely is further indication of contraction,” said Ross Harvison, the ISM Houston Business Survey committee chair. “It’s not surprising to me that we’re seeing people cancelling projects that are not already under construction. The office space that has been built is more than we’re going to need as we continue in this downturn that we’re seeing.”

A development firm that had plans for a 16-story office tower in Midtown on Louisiana has decided to cancel that project, and is now considering leasing the property or developing condos.

Despite continued contraction of the Purchasing Managers Index, Harvison says there are some bright spots.

“We continue to strength within the healthcare sector. The Houston area has a lot of very strong medical facilities and people are continuing to come to the Houston area for the higher-end healthcare, and that continues to show within our numbers.”

Oil and gas exploration continues to cause the greatest concern for the near-term growth of the Houston economy.

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