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How Will The Next Recession Affect Houston?

The Bayou City has suffered less than the rest of the country in previous economic downturns.

Florian Martin/Houston Public Media
Bill Gilmer, director of UH’s Institute for Regional Forecasting, says Houston usually does better than other places during a recession.


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It's been more than a decade since the last recession, and surveys show a large majority of economists believe another one will happen by the end of 2021.

Bill Gilmer, director of the University of Houston's Institute for Regional Forecasting, isn't convinced because, other than this being the longest expansion on record, he doesn't see any indicators.

At the same time, he said, developments that trigger a recession tend to come out of nowhere.

And once a recession hits, he said, Houston will feel it.

"What typically happens when the U.S. slips into recession, oil demand goes away," Gilmer said. "And when oil demand goes away, the price falls and that means that Houston's oil sector gets hit."

But, he said, other factors benefit Houston, which is why historically the Bayou City has done better than the rest of the country during recessions.

"We do not have as many regulatory barriers as the rest of the country in terms of development – land development, for example – or hiring or lots of other practices," Gilmer said.

That, he said, gives Houston more flexibility for a recovery.

A strong housing market is another attribute that helps Houston in a recession, Gilmer said.

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