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Revised Numbers Paint Different Picture Of Houston’s Job Growth During Oil Downturn

But at second glance, the story is still the same.


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Houston skyline from south

Every year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revises its monthly, survey-based job estimates after using payroll data.

This time they show Greater Houston added only 200 net jobs in 2015 – instead of 15,200.

Bill Gilmer, director of the Institute for Regional Forecasting at the University of Houston, said the change only seems significant because of just how little growth Houston had.

"If we were talking about the 120,000 job growth that we enjoyed in 2012, 2013, 2014 – each one of those years close to 100,000 – a swing of 10,000 jobs one way or the other would probably hardly be noticed in the revisions," he said.

Whether you're looking at 200 jobs or 15,000, he said, it's the same story of slow growth over the last two years.

The revisions also show that Greater Houston actually lost jobs last summer and that losses in the oil and gas industry were also more than estimated.

Nonetheless, Gilmer said Houston proved to be resilient during the oil downturn.

"I think really the important thing is that these data, despite the loss of probably 75,000 to 80,000 jobs in oil and gas, we still didn't have a recession," he said.

Last year, Houston added 18,700 jobs, according to the revisions. The Texas Workforce Commission initially estimated that number to be 14,800.

Gilmer said there's a good chance the numbers for 2016 could also be significantly revised again next year, when more data is available.

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