Institute for Regional Forecasting Director Will Talk Job Growth, Oil Dependence and Economic Future for the City
The Institute for Regional Forecasting at the C. T. Bauer College of Business will hold its Spring Symposium on May 22, with director and noted economist Robert W. “Bill” Gilmer giving his insight on economic prospects for Houston in the coming year.
The symposium, titled “While Upstream Oil Cools Down, What Drives Houston’s Economy Forward Now?,” will address the slowdown in spending for oil exploration and production, and what this could mean for the local area.
“Houston’s job growth tied to exploration and production has slowed sharply since 2011, and the question is where we find job growth now? One place to turn is the U.S. economy, which still plays a big role locally,” Gilmer said.
The presentation will feature a discussion of Houston’s dependence on oil versus other sources of growth, and how that dependence has changed over the last 20 years.
“Certainly oil has been the key element in separating Houston’s economic performance from the rest of the country through most of the last decade,” Gilmer said, “But we are still strongly linked to a U.S. economy that is on brink of finally returning to stronger growth.”
Houston has other economic resources, he added, citing the Johnson Space Center in Clear Lake and the Texas Medical Center. With oil booming, these organizations have been neglected as potential contributors to the city’s economy, Gilmer said. Also, the collapse of natural gas prices in late 2011 has set off a wave of petrochemical constriction on the east side of the city. Thousands of new blue collar construction jobs are expected.
Prospects for Houston’s job growth remain very strong in 2014, and continuing into next year, Gilmer said. It is largely a question of finding the strengths and weaknesses, and adding up the total number of jobs. A new forecast of job growth will be shared with the attendees.
A former senior economist and vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Gilmer holds a master of arts and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Texas at Austin. As director of Bauer College’s Institute for Regional Forecasting, he is charged with leading the institute’s twice-a-year symposia on the state of the regional economy.
Registration is now open for the spring symposium, which runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, 1200 Louisiana St. Tickets are $110 per seat, or $925 for a table of 10. Tickets on the day of the event, if available, will be $125.
By Danielle Ponder