Houston Economy Waiting For Return of Oil Jobs

Published on November 8, 2017

Bauer Economist Bill Gilmer Gives Update At Institute for Regional Forecasting Fall Symposium

Institute for Regional Forecasting Director Bill Gilmer gave his economic recap for 2017 during the Fall 2017 Symposium.

Noted economist Robert W. “Bill” Gilmer shared his insight on the Houston economy post-Harvey this week during the C. T. Bauer College of Business Institute for Regional Forecasting Fall Symposium.

Gilmer, who also serves as IRF director, presented his talk — titled “Slow Growth Returns to Houston in 2017, Can We Bring Back the Oil Jobs in 2018?” — addressing Hurricane Harvey’s impact on the city’s economy and the oil and gas industry. The Nov. 6 luncheon drew hundreds of attendees, filling a ballroom at Hyatt Regency Houston just two-and-a-half months after the storm made landfall.

“After Harvey, about 39,000 Houston homes were left with major damage, and 300,000 vehicles totaled,” Gilmer said. “Nothing can undo the property losses, but these storms are usually a ‘neutral’ for most current economic measures like employment, income, or output, because we lose worktime as we shelter, but we come out to meet an intense mini-economic boom that quickly gets underway, and fades just as quickly.”

Gilmer added: “In six months, Harvey will be gone from the data, not forgotten, but gone from our data.”

As for oil and gas, Gilmer says that until the oil-related jobs return, Houston will still see slow overall employment growth.

“We’ve turned a corner on job growth in Houston, but it is far short of Houston historical standards,” he said. “A lot of excitement that was created on job growth numbers were over-estimated by half.”

In preliminary estimate for Houston’s job growth in 2016-17 by the Texas Workforce Commission, total employment grew by 48,000 jobs, but new data is indicating a number nearer to 24,000 jobs.

“This has arguably been the worst oil downturn ever of oil, worse than the 1980’s by a number of measures,” Gilmer added. “While Houston has moved back on a slow to moderate growth track, stronger growth requires that local oil jobs return in large numbers.”

Gilmer currently estimates that Houston will add about 40,000 payroll jobs in both 2017 and 2018.

Gilmer will share his next set of projections at the Bauer Institute for Regional Forecasting’s Spring Symposium on May 17. For more information on the IRF and Gilmer’s presentation, click here.

By Amanda Sebesta

Posted Under: Events

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