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Houston Ready for its Close Up, Bucks National Economic Trend

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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Daniel Gross has nominated Houston as the poster child for bucking the recent downturn in the economy in Newsweek’s Houston, We Have No Problems: Houston has become a sort of Silicon Valley for the global energy industry. Urban cowboy? Think suburban geek.

To find a hot spot where soaring oil and commodity prices, and the booming economies of the developing world, are keeping cash registers ringing and construction crews fully employed, you don’t have to trek to Dubai or Moscow. You need travel only as far as Houston. In May, the unemployment rate in the nation’s sixth largest metropolitan area was a measly 3.8 percent. In the past year, Houston-based companies, which include 26 Fortune 500 firms, added 71,000 jobs to their payrolls.

It’s not an altogether unfamiliar role, as the soaring energy prices that sap the margins of industries in other parts of the country tend to fill the coffers of the energy complex that dominates Houston’s economy. As Gross notes, however, Houston has outgrown it’s rough and tumble wildcatter heritage to become an engineering haven built on the minds oil has attracted over the years. For instance, this statistic surprised even me – “The city’s biggest employer: the Texas Medical Center, the nonprofit megaplex that runs two medical schools and 14 hospitals.”

Similar sentiments lead Kiplinger magazine to vote Houston the Best City to Live, Work and Play for 2008 in their annual rankings. The reasons it cites are heavy on the economic scale, with Houston’s higher than average average income and lower than average cost of living tipping the scales in its favor.

Population: 5,542,048
Population Growth Since 2000: 14.9%
Percentage of Workforce in Creative Class: 31.3%
Cost-of-Living Index: 88.1 (100 being national average)
Median Household Income: $50,250
Income Growth Since 2000: 13.1%

Other links of interest: Houstonist, Houston Strategies

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Category: life in houston


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