Texas Manufacturing Falls Sharply In January, In Another Sign Of Slow Economic Recovery

The news comes just days after the Texas Workforce released new unemployment numbers indicating that Texas lost more jobs in 2020 than at the height of the Great Recession.

Florian Martin/Houston Public Media
Greater Houston lost 140,000 jobs in 2020.


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The Dallas Fed’s production index — a key measure of manufacturing conditions — fell sharply this month.

The index fell from nearly 27 in December to 4.6 this month. Growth in new orders and shipments also slowed down.

More than half of the over 100 bosses surveyed said revenues were lower than a typical January. But, overall, expectations about future activity remained positive.

It’s just the latest indicator of a slow recovery in Texas, after the state’s economy was hit hard by the impact of COVID-19 on employment and production.

On Friday, Texas Workforce Commission released new unemployment numbers indicating that Texas lost more than 430,000 net jobs and Greater Houston lost about 140,000 in 2020.

Both losses are higher than at the height of the Great Recession — the Houston region shed 110,500 jobs in 2009

Despite the net losses, Houston did recover about 60% of the jobs lost in March and April, at the beginning of the pandemic, when a large part of the economy shut down to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Parker Harvey, principal economist at Workforce Solutions, said that’s much faster than in previous recessions, but that the recovery will likely slow down.

"The easy gains are probably behind us," he said. "The remainder of the year is probably going to be pretty difficult, that barring a fundamental change in the trajectory of the virus and vaccine rollout."

The Houston region gained 10,600 jobs across most industries in December and Houston’s unemployment rate went down to 8%.

Construction stood out for losing 3,800 jobs last month.

"New projects that might have come online during the time of the pandemic with the core of it last year, those are probably going to get delayed even further," Harvey said.

Considering Greater Houston creates 60,000-70,000 jobs in a typical year, the Greater Houston Partnership estimates it will take the region at least two years of normal growth to return to pre-pandemic employment levels.

Texas added more than 64,000 jobs in December. It ended the year at 7.2% unemployment.

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