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Top 10 Houston Facts

Nadia Valliani


The Greater Houston Partnership’s 2017 Houston Facts publication is now available, and to celebrate its release, here are 10 fun and unique facts about the region. For additional interesting and helpful facts about the Greater Houston region, visit

  1. Metro Houston has the fourth biggest economy in the United States. In fact, if Houston were a country, it would rank as the 23rd largest economy in the world—exceeding both Nigeria's and Sweden's Gross Domestic Product.

  2. The Houston region has no racial or ethnic majority. Non-Hispanic Whites make up 37.3 percent, Hispanics 36.5 percent, African Americans 16.9 percent, and Asians 7.5 percent. Among the nation's metropolitan areas, the Houston region ranks fourth in number of Hispanics, seventh in number of African Americans and seventh in number of Asians.

    Race and Ethnicity chart
  3. Nearly one in four Houstonians was born outside the U.S., though most have been living here for many years. Among the 1.6 million foreign-born in the Houston metro area, more than 80 percent entered the U.S. before 2010. Top regions of birth among Houston’s foreign-born are: Latin America (62.5 percent), Asia (25.8 percent), Africa (5.8 percent) and Europe (4.4 percent).

  4. Houston is home to an incredibly wide array of faith traditions. One can experience Houston's rich religious diversity through the numerous and unique churches, synagogues, mosques, Hindu and Buddhist temples, and even a Zoroastrian cultural center spotted across the region.

  5. The nine counties that make up the Houston metro area cover 9,444 square miles, an area larger than five states, including New Hampshire, New Jersey and Connecticut.

    Map of Counties that make up Houston
  6. Houston has nearly double the concentration of engineers and architects in its workforce than the national average. For every 100,000 workers in the Houston region, there are nearly 3,000 engineers and architects. In comparison, for every 100,000 workers in the U.S., there are 1,800.

    Engineering Concentrations Chart
  7. Headquarters to NASA's manned space program and the global energy industry, Houston has long been at the leading edge of innovation, particularly at the corporate and institutional levels. More recently, the rise of the Texas Medical Center as a world-renowned hub of health care and life science innovation has pushed Houston to the forefront of the fast-growing biotech sector. More than half of the total private investment the region received in the last three years went to companies operating in industries other than oil and gas.

    Venture Capital Funding Chart
  8. Houston is the international air gateway to the South Central United States and Latin America. With the addition of international air service at Hobby Airport in 2015, Houston became the only city in Texas with two airports offering international service and one of only eight such cities nationwide.

  9. Houston is one of the few U.S. cities with resident companies in drama, ballet, opera and orchestra. More than 500 institutions are devoted to the performing and visual arts, science, and history in the Houston area. In 2017, Fodor's ranked the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston as one of the top 21 best art museums in the country. Houston's nonprofit arts and culture industry is important to the region for cultural enrichment, student development, and tourism and generates $1.0 billion in taxable sales.

  10. Houston has the sixth-lowest cost of living among the nation's 20 most populous metropolitan areas—Houston's housing costs are 37 percent below the top-20 average, and its overall living costs are 21 percent below the top-20 average.

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City of Houston's Population Tops 2.3 Million

Patrick Jankowski

Patrick Jankowski

LinkedIn About the Author


The City of Houston added 18,666 residents between July 1, 2015 and July 1, 2016, according to estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Among the nation's 20 most populous cities, Houston ranked eighth in population growth. Phoenix ranked first and Los Angeles second.

Six of the nation's 20 most populous cities are now in Texas — Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth and El Paso.

Since the April 1, 2010 census, the city has added 204,031 residents. Most of that occurred between '12 and '15 when 12-month job growth averaged 90,000 and population growth averaged 38,000 residents per year. Population growth will remain subdued until job growth returns. The Partnership's forecast calls for the 9-county region to add 29,700 jobs in '17, about half what a typical year's job growth should be for the region.

Chicago's population still exceeds Houston's by more than 400,000 residents. At the current rate of growth, Houston won't overtake Chicago for another 15 years.

U.S. Cities with Largest Populations
Population Rank U.S. City Population (as of 7/1/16) Change since 7/1/15 Rank Based on Residents Added Residents Percent
Residents Percent
1 New York, NY 8,537,673 21,171 0.2% 4
2 Los Angeles, CA 3,976,322 27,173 0.7% 2
3 Chicago, IL 2,704,958 (8,638) -0.3% 20
4 Houston, TX 2,303,482 18,666 0.8% 8
5 Phoenix, AZ 1,615,017 32,113 2.0% 1
6 Philadelphia, PA 1,567,872 2,908 0.2% 17
7 San Antonio, TX 1,492,510 24,473 1.7% 3
8 San Diego, CA 1,406,630 15,715 1.1% 10
9 Dallas, TX 1,317,929 20,602 1.6% 6
10 San Jose, CA 1,025,350 2,723 0.3% 19
11 Austin, TX 947,890 17,738 1.9% 9
12 Jacksonville, FL 880,619 13,455 1.6% 12
13 San Francisco, CA 870,887 8,883 1.0% 15
14 Columbus, OH 860,090 10,046 1.2% 14
15 Indianapolis, IN 855,164 2,869 0.3% 18
16 Fort Worth, TX 854,113 19,942 2.4% 7
17 Charlotte, NC 842,051 15,656 1.9% 11
18 Seattle, WA 704,352 20,847 3.1% 5
19 Denver, CO 693,060 13,028 1.9% 13
20 El Paso, TX 683,080 4,510 0.7% 16

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Houston Just Keeps Getting Bigger


The nine-county Houston metro area added 125,005 residents between July 1, 2015 and July 1, 2016, according to estimates released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. That equates to one new resident every 4.2 minutes. Houston's strong population growth is remarkable given that over the same 12 months, Houston lost 1,500 payroll jobs. 1

Houston continues to rank as the nation's fifth most populous metro area. However, given Dallas-Fort Worth metro's rate of growth, Houston is unlikely to ever overtake the Metroplex. Given the gap between Chicago's and Houston's population—more than 2.7 million residents—Houston won’t overtake the Chicago metro anytime soon.

10 Most Populous U.S. Metro Areas
Rank Metro Area Population as of 7/1/16 Change since 7/1/15
1 New York 20,153,634 35,571
2 Los Angeles 13,310,447 41,619
3 Chicago 9,512,999 19,570
4 Dallas-Fort Worth 7,233,323 143,435
5 Houston 6,772,470 125,005
6 Washington, D.C. 6,131,977 53,508
7 Philadelphia 6,070,500 8,197
8 Miami 6,066,387 64,670
9 Atlanta 5,789,700 90,650
10 Boston 4,794,447 27,692

1 For a full discussion of job trends last year, see the March '17 issue of Houston: The Economy at a Glance.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau

The bulk of Houston's population growth came from two areas, what demographers refer to as the "net natural increase" and "net in-migration." The net natural increase is calculated by subtracting local deaths from local births. Net in-migration is calculated by subtracting the number of people who move out of the region from the number who move into the region. Houston specifics follow.

Houston Population Gains 7/15 – 7/16
Births 102,152
Deaths -40,536
Net Natural Increase 61,616
Net International1 35,000
Net Domestic 28,090
Net In-Migration 63,090
Total Population Growth2 125,005

1 Includes U.S. and foreign-born populations.
2 Does not sum due to rounding and other effects.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau

Since the April 1, 2010 census, Houston's population has grown by 851,971 residents, which is more than the current populations of the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission metro (849,843) or metro El Paso (841,971). Only one other metro area exceeded Houston in net population increase last year, Dallas-Fort Worth, which added 143,435 residents. Additional details will be provided in the upcoming April issue of Houston: The Economy at a Glance.

How Houston's Cost of Living Compares

Nadia Valliani


This week's guest blogger is Nadia Valliani, Manager of Research at the Greater Houston Partnership. She offers her insights into how Houston's cost of living compares with other major metros.

Every quarter, the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) produces the Cost of Living Index to provide a uniform way to assess the various differences in living costs among urban areas across the country. C2ER recently released the cost of living annual averages for 2016 and found that, among the top 20 most populous metro areas, Houston has the sixth-lowest cost of living in the country.

Cost of Living chart

Source: Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER), Cost of Living Index, 2016 Annual Average
*Metro areas represented by most dominant urban area. Riverside, California is among the 20 most populous MSAs, but did not submit COLI data

In fact, Houston's overall after-taxes living costs are 1.2 percent below the average for all 264 urban areas participating in the survey. Comparable metros such as Dallas and Denver are 0.4 percent and 10.4 percent above the national average, respectively. Unsurprisingly, the cost of living in urban areas like Manhattan and San Francisco are 128.2 and 77.4 percent above the national average, respectively.

Among the nation's 20 most populous metro areas, Houston's housing costs are also below the average. The average purchase price for a home is $293,000—44 percent below the average for the top 20 metros—and the average two-bedroom apartment rental is listed at $1,349—nearly one-fourth the rent among the 20 most populous metros.

In a 2014 Gallup survey, nearly nine out of 10 Houstonians reported being satisfied with where they lived. No doubt Houston's low cost of living matched with world-class amenities such as resident companies in drama, ballet, opera and orchestra, access to world-renowned museums and the nearly 53,000 acres of parkland contribute to Houstonian satisfaction. Additionally, Houston is consistently ranked as one of America's best food cities and has received accolades from the New York Times, the Washington Post and the James Beard Foundation.

The Greater Houston Partnership will release more facts about Houston in the summer in our annual Houston Facts publication. Make sure you don't miss it by checking here.

The Economic Gridiron: How Houston Stacks Up

Patrick Jankowski

Patrick Jankowski

LinkedIn About the Author


If we can't have the Texans in the Super Bowl, the next best thing is to have the Super Bowl in Houston. H-Town will welcome nearly 140,000 out-of-town visitors for the big event. Rockport Analytics, the consulting firm hired by the Super Bowl Host Committee to study the event's impact, has determined the typical visitor will stay an average of four nights, spend $300 per night (on average) for a hotel room, and drop another $300 per day on food, drink, transportation and entertainment. The event will inject $372 million in new money into Houston’s economy. Another $45 million will flow into state and local tax coffers.

The Texans won't be on the field February 5, but the hometown team still dominates the competition, at least in economic terms. Note how the three metros—Houston, Atlanta, and Boston—match up in the table below.

The Economic Gridiron: How Houston Stacks Up
Houston Atlanta Boston
Gross Domestic Product (Billions) $503.3 $339.2 $396.5
Fortune 500 Headquarters 26 18 12
Metro Exports (Billions) $97.1 $19.2 $21.3
Workforce (millions) 3.134 2.983 2.589
Unemployment Rate (December '16) 5.3% 5.0% 2.5%
Population (as of 1/1/15) 6,656,947 5,710,795 4,774,321
U.S. Metro Population Rank 5 9 10
Projected Population in '25 7,923,220 6,676,620 5,010,310
Median Age of Metro Population 33.7 35.7 38.7
% Anglo 38.2 49.4 73.0
% Hispanic 36.1 10.5 10.0
% Black 16.8 32.5 7.1
% Asian 7.1 5.3 7.2
% Other 1.8 2.3 2.7
Foreign-Born Population 1,574,422 789,401 873,208
Median Household Income (Annual) $61,465 $55,775 $78,800
Median Home Value $168,300 $186,300 $393,000
Cost of Living Index, U.S. Average = 100 98.8 98.7 148.1
Median commute to work (minutes) 30.2 31.3 31.4
Tax Burden, Hypothetical Family Earning $75,000/Year $4,321 $6,364 $7,752
State Personal Income Tax No Yes Yes
Fun and Hospitality
Hotels 1,001 853 602
Restaurants, Cafes, Bars 10,710 10,923 11,418
Museums 61 29 101
Breweries 17 11 30

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Fortune Magazine, U.S. International Trade Administration, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau, Council for Community & Economic Research, District of Columbia Tax Office, All States Tax Handbook

Data, Dates and Dollars: A Monthly Take on Houston By the Numbers


  • 138,000
  • Number of out-of-town visitors expected in Houston during Super Bowl

    That's like hosting the populations of Waco (135,662) or Midland (135,175) for a week-long party.

  • 50.7
  • A sign Houston's outlook continues to improve

    50.7 is the Houston Purchasing Managers Index in December. Readings above 50 signal Houston’s economy will expand over the next three months; readings below 50 indicate contraction.

  • 1/22/1837
  • The first steamboat calls on Houston

    The Laura, an 85-foot vessel, sailed up Buffalo Bayou three miles past the stakes marking Houston. The steamboat had to back up to reach the city. At the time, notes The Handbook of Texas History, the town was comprised of 12 residents and one log cabin. Four months later, there were 1,500 people and 100 houses

  • $24.4 Billion
  • Total value of condos, townhomes, high-rise units, houses and residential lots sold in metro Houston last year. That's a record for dollar amount.

    To put the $24.4 billion in perspective, Halliburton, #117 on the Fortune 500 list, recorded $23.6 billion in revenues in ’15 (latest year for which data is available).

  • $23.03

  • The difference between the price of West Texas Intermediate today and one year ago,(1/17/2017 vs. 1/15/2016).

    Oil prices fell as low as $26.19 per barrel in February of last year before beginning their slow recovery.

An Economist's Take on Some Texans Stats


Houston Texans Football HelmetFootball, like most sports, generates volumes of statistics - number of first downs, net rushing yards, total sacks, fumbles lost, yards penalized, third down conversions, time of possession, quarterback ratings, and so forth.

As an economist, my job is to interpret and present data. Here's my analysis of some key Texans stats.

  • The average attendance at a Texans home game was 71,769 in the 2015 season. That's like the population of Missouri City or New Braunfels attending a typical Texans game.
  • NRG Park has approximately 26,000 parking spaces. With two pre-season and eight regular season home games, approximately 260,000 vehicles pass through the gates during the season. That's actually fewer vehicles than drive the West Loop between I-10 and U.S. 59 on an average day.
  • During the team's 14 seasons, a total of 7,940,010 fans have attended home games. To put that in perspective, that's like the entire Dallas-Ft. Worth metro population attending a Texans home game. Perhaps that’s something they should consider; they’d have a better experience.
  • During the 2015 season, Texans players ranged in weight from 173 pounds (Wide Receiver Chandler Worthy) to 335 pounds (Guard Brandon Brooks). The combined weight of the team (practice squad, 53-man roster, and injured reserve) exceeded 18,800 pounds. That’s 8.6 metric tons or about the weight of four and a half Ford F-150 pickups.
  • The Texans had 5,564 net yards of offenses in 2015, or a little more than 3 miles of passing and rushing. Over the team's 14 years, they have amassed 75,555 yards total offense, or about 42.9 miles. That's the equivalent to starting on the 20 yard line in NRG stadium and then driving the ball to the Brookshire city limits.
  • During the team's 14 seasons, 454 athletes have played for the Texans. Nine named Brown or Johnson, seven named Williams, six named Jones, and five named Harris, Lewis or Smith.
  • As players leave the team, numbers are recycled, some frequently, others hardly ever. The least favorite - #46. The most favorite - #99.

Greater Houston Partnership Houston's Business of Sports

Want to learn more about the Texans and the business of sports? On Thursday, September 8, the Greater Houston Partnership will host "Houston's Business of Sports: The Game Day Impact." Bob McNair, Texans owner, Jamey Rootes, Texans president and Partnership chair, and Ric Campo, Houston Super Bowl Host Committee chairman, will discuss the impact of professional sports on the region. You can find more details about the event by clicking here.

The Glass Half Full

FRIDAY MAY 8, 2015

Eight Things You Probably Don't Know About Houston's Airports

The Partnership's Research Team is immersed in measuring the region's global footprint. As part of our investigations, we've taken a hard look at the region's infrastructure and discovered these amazing facts about our local airports:

airportOf the nation's 50 busiest airports, only three are named after presidents. One is in Houston.1

Forty-four of North America's largest airports have "international" in their title. Only one has the word "intercontinental." No word yet on whether Houston's proposed space port will be named "intergalactic."

planeFifteen of the world's 20 busiest airlines serve Houston. They are Delta Air (1), United (2), Emirates (3), American (4), Southwest (5), Lufthansa (6), Air France (7), British Airways (8), Air China (12) Singapore Airlines (14), Turkish Airlines (16), Air Canada (17), KLM (18), and Qatar Airways (19).2

earthWhen Air New Zealand starts service later this year, IAH will be the only airport in North America that serves all six inhabited continents. There are only four other airports in the world that can claim the same--Dubai, Doha, Abu Dhabi, and Johannesburg.

twinkieIn 2014, Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) handled 252,600 metric tons of international air freight. That's equivalent to the weight of 100 million laptops or 5.7 billion Twinkies.

One in every five air passengers travelling through IAH last year was traveling internationally, up from one in 11 twenty years ago.

flight informationIAH handled twice as many international passengers last year (9.8 million) than total passengers when it opened in '69 (4.5 million).

When the Houston's Hobby International Terminal opens this fall, Houston will be one of only six markets with dual international hubs.3

Bottom line, our research has confirmed what we already suspected – Houston has an absolutely incredible international air service.

I invite you to join the Partnership on May 27th at the JW Marriott Galleria when we present the rest of our work. We've been working to identify Houston companies conducting business overseas, the level of foreign investment in Houston, and the role global trade plays in Houston's economy. The event will also feature a panel of experts in trade finance, global supply chains, third-party logistics and international marketing who will share their insights on conducting global business from the Texas Gulf Coast. You'll leave the event with a wealth of knowledge and better prepared to do business in the global economy. To register for the event, click here.

Sources: '71 Houston Facts, Airlines Business Magazine, Airports Council International-North America, Houston Airport System, U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics and the author's calculations.

1The other two airports are New York's JFK and Washington's Ronald Reagan National, but one might argue Reagan National is named after an actor.
2The five not serving Houston are Cathay Pacific, China Southern, China Eastern, Qantas and Ryanair.
3The others are Chicago, New York, San Francisco/Oakland, Miami/Ft Lauderdale, and Washington/Baltimore.

FRIDAY MAY 1, 2015

More than Just Crude and Chemicals

Drive the Loop 610 bridge where it spans the Houston Ship Channel, take a quick look left and right, and you'll have a better appreciation of how important global trade is to Houston's economy. Dozens of ships line the docks every day (more than 8,000 arrive every year), and Houstonians buy from and sell to almost every country in the world. The region's five ports—Houston, Texas City, Galveston, Freeport and Intercontinental Airport—handled more than $250 billion a year in goods last year. To put that in perspective, Chevron, the company ranked third on the 2014 Fortune 500 list, recorded $200.5 billion in revenues last year. Only Walmart and Exxon-Mobil had higher revenues.

Houstonians enjoy using superlatives to describe anything in their hometown. A few aptly apply to the Port of Houston. In '13, the Port of Houston ranked 1st in foreign tonnage among U.S. ports (18th consecutive year), 1st in import tonnage (23rd consecutive year), and 2nd in total tonnage (22nd consecutive year).

Refined products, chemicals, plastics and industrial machinery account for the bulk of what crosses the docks, but those aren't the only goods Houston handles. A few of the more interesting items:

FishThe odds are high that if you buy seafood at the grocer or order it in the restaurant, your meal came from overseas. Houston imported $201 million in frozen tilapia, salmon, shrimp and catfish in '14.

BeerHouston brought in more than $1.3 billion in beer, wine, brandy and liquors last year, and for the morning after, $311.1 million in coffee beans and coffee extracts. No details are available on the volume of aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen shipments.

MakeupMore than $61.2 million in perfumes and cosmetics crossed the wharves at the Port of Houston but only $2.8 million in men's razors. Most of the razors came from the Czech Republic.

MakeupA few other oddities, Houstonians brought in $5.7 million in patio umbrellas, $357 million in bikes and trikes, $22.8 million in carnival chachkis (squinting flowers, silly sun glasses, magic tricks), and $950,000 in golf clubs.

We export more than chemicals and plastics as well. To highlight a few:

RoosterFish comes in. Fowl goes out. Chicken exports (including livers) totaled $153.3 million in '14.

MakeupLocal bakers exported $13.8 million in pastries and cakes. No report on the freshness when they arrived.

ValveHouston businesses sold $54.2 million in check valves, not to be confused with Czech razors.

LawnmowerNo one knows better than Houstonians how to care for Bermuda and St. Augustine grass. We exported $11.3 million in lawnmowers, and to keep the trees trimmed, $49.7 million in chain saws.

CottonCotton exports totaled $460.6 million. This will eventually return to Houston as button-down shirts, pajama bottoms and the wad of white fluff that keeps aspirin from rattling inside the bottle.

The point of all this is that Houston's ties to the global economy extend beyond crude, chemicals and oil field equipment. The Partnership is currently analyzing the region's ties to the global economy, ties which will offset the impacts of the downturn in the oil and gas industry. I invite you to join the Partnership on May 27th in the JW Marriott Galleria when I present the results of that analysis. Following the report, local experts in trade finance, global supply chains, third-party logistics and international marketing will share their insights on conducting global business from the Texas Gulf Coast.

Bottom line: Houston's economy is more than oil and gas. To better understand why, click here and register for the event.


Time to celebrate!

Friday, April 24th, is Tax Freedom Day.

Tax Freedom Day is the date when the nation as a whole has earned enough money to pay its tax bill for the year. The day takes into account all federal, state, and local taxes paid and all sources of the nation's income.

The Washington-based Tax Foundation calculates Tax Freedom Day each year to focus attention to the nation's tax burden. The foundation estimates Americans will pay $3.28 trillion in federal taxes and $1.57 trillion in state and local taxes, for a total tax bill of $4.85 trillion, or 31 percent of national income. The foundation also notes that Americans will collectively spend more on taxes in 2015 than they will on food, clothing, and housing combined.

The foundation also calculates Tax Freedom Day for individual states. Texas celebrated Tax Freedom Day a week earlier, Friday, April 17th. That's 107 days into the year for Texas. Surprisingly, 21 other states had earlier celebrations. Our neighbor to the east, Louisiana, celebrated first, on April 2, and Connecticut will celebrate last, on May 13.

The foundation doesn't publish details behind the calculations for each state, so it's unclear why Texas, recognized by many as a low-tax state, doesn't fare better in the rankings. The rankings of all states can be found in the map below.

Tax Freedom Day


Short-Run Challenges, Long-Run Perspective

As we hear about the struggles of the oil and gas industry, it helps to recall that Houston has enjoyed an unprecedented run of good fortune recently.

Houston's economy has nearly doubled in size since '04.

Houston Gross Domestic Product, Billions Graphic

The region has created more than 770,000 jobs over the past ten years.

Metro Houston Payroll Employment

The population has grown by nearly 570,000 residents since April '10.

Metro Population

And that Houston continues to garner accolades for its quality of life.

Clip Art of Couple at Restaurant America's Best Cities for Food Snobs
Travel + Leisure – March 2015

Clip Art of Wedding Getaway Car Best Cities for Young Couples
CreditDonkey - January 22, 2014

Clip Art of Young People America's Coolest Cities to Live
Forbes – August 6, 2014

We can't ignore the fact that in the short-run the oil industry is entering a down cycle and that economic growth has begun to slow, but also should not forget that in the long-run Houston remains a great place to live, work, and build a business.


Houston's Population Approaches 6.5 Million

The Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) led the nation in population growth last year, adding 156,371 residents, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released on March 26th. The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metro ranked second and the New York-Newark-Jersey City metro area ranked third.1

INCREASES --  JULY 1, 2013 to JULY 1, 2014
Rank Metro Area Pop.  Increase
1 Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land 156,371
2 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington 131,217
3 New York-Newark-Jersey City 90,797
4 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell 88,891
5 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim 86,371
6 Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale 84,980
7 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria 66,561
8 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach 66,361
9 San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward 64,406
10 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue 57,857
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

The Houston metro population stood at 6,490,180 on July 1, 2014, up from 5,949,076 on July 1, 2010. Over the past four years, Houston has added 541,104 residents, or about the equivalent of the current population of the Spokane, WA metro area.

Harris County had the largest numeric population increase of all U.S. counties, adding 89,000 residents. Bexar County ranked 6th (34,000 residents), Dallas ranked 8th (33,000) and Tarrant ranked 10th (31,000). Harris remains the nation's third most populous county (4,441,370 residents), behind Los Angeles County, CA (10,116,705 residents) and Cook County, IL (5,246,456 residents) and ahead of Maricopa County, AZ (4,087,191).

Every Houston MSA county experienced population growth last year, with Fort Bend growing the fastest and Harris adding the most residents.

1 The bureau's population estimates are for the year July 1, 2013 through July 1, 2014.
County Population Change Since 7/1/13
# %
Austin 29,114 303 1.1
Brazoria 338,124 7,454 2.3
Chambers 38,145 930 2.5
Fort Bend 685,345 30,784 4.7
Galveston 314,198 6733 2.2
Harris 4,441,370 88,618 2.0
Liberty 78,117 1,084 1.4
Montgomery 518,947 19,129 3.8
Waller 46,820 1336 2.9
Totals 6,490,180  156,371 2.5
Source: U.S. Census Bureau      

Net in-migration (the difference between those moving into Houston minus those moving out) added 98,133 to the population. The net natural increase (local births minus deaths) added 57,776 to the population. The numbers do not sum up to the total increase due to rounding errors and residual effects.

Another way to look at population growth in Houston last year:



Last week the Partnership offered its employment forecast for 2015. This week I'd like to offer a few more predictions for next year.

Prediction #1

Oil prices will fall until they stabilize. The Houston Chronicle and the Houston Business Journal will run a series of articles on how falling crude prices have hurt local businesses. KHOU, KTRK, KPRC and KRIV will run stories on how falling gasoline prices have helped local consumers.

Prediction #2

Twenty-three candidates will announce they are running for mayor of Houston. Every candidate will run on a platform of reducing congestion, getting tough on crime, efficient government, improving local quality of life, and expanding economic opportunity for all Houstonians. Only two candidates will make the run off. Only one will get elected.

Prediction #3

The Texans will have a phenomenal year, starting strong, struggling a bit at mid-season, and then finishing with an impressive win streak and making the playoffs. The team will go 4-0 in the post-season and make it to Super Bowl L. Eighty-five percent of Texan fans will be elated that the team made it to the Super Bowl. Ten percent will travel to Santa Clara, CA to watch the game in Levi Stadium. Five percent will grouse that if the Texans waited another year, Super Bowl LI would be played in NRG Stadium and the team would have home field advantage.

Prediction #4

Southwest Airlines will initiate international air service out of Houston Hobby Airport. The Port of Houston Authority will dredge the ship channel to prep for the Panama Canal expansion. Texas Central Railway will work on a high-speed rail link between Houston and Dallas. Everyone will complain about Houston traffic.

Prediction #5

Over Thanksgiving dinner, the Jankowski clan will discuss politics, sports, family history and this author's forecasts for 2015. My daughter will note that dad was right on three out of six. My wife will point out that if I were her student my performance wouldn't merit a passing grade. My son would defend me noting anyone who bats .500 would be enshrined at Cooperstown. My older brother will remind me that he was mom's favorite son.

Prediction #6

Employment growth will continue in '15 but at a slower pace than in '14. Every sector will add jobs except for those sectors most closely tied to energy. The region will end the year with more than three million jobs, exceeding employment in 36 states and the District of Columbia. Houston will continue to be a place of Opportunity and a City With No Limits.

To learn more about the Partnership's employment forecast for 2015, click here.

1 For those you who struggle with any Roman numeral above XXI, L is the Roman numeral for 50 and LI is the number for 51.



Thanksgiving is just around the corner, a time when families gather to share sumptuous meals, enjoy each other's company, and give thanks for the many blessings they received throughout the year. Houstonians have many reasons to be thankful. Here are just a few:

1. The metro area led the nation in economic growth last year.

Among, the nation's 20 largest metro areas, Houston's gross regional product grew 5.2 percent, net of inflation in '13. San Jose ranked second with 4.4 percent growth, Denver third with 4.3 percent.

2. The Texans won't need snow shovels to prep for Sunday's game against Cincinnati.

The Buffalo Bills are offering anyone who helps remove the 220 tons of snow that has accumulated in Ralph Wilson stadium $10 an hour and tickets to Sunday's game. One fan suggested a better offer would be $12 an hour and the Bills could keep the tickets.

3. The Houston region has created more than 446,000 jobs since January '10, with 119,400 coming in the past 12 months.

On a personal note, I'm grateful that Houston's economy is so robust that my son and daughter found good jobs here and didn't have to leave their hometown to launch their careers.

4. The Texans are 5-5, may have found a franchise quarterback, and have a shot at the playoffs.

The team's outlook will brighten with a win against the Bengals.

5. Houston has gotten smarter.

In 2008, the American Community Survey (ACS), the U.S. Census Bureau's annual snapshot of the nation's population, found that 28.2 percent of Houstonians over the age of 25 held a college degree. In the 2013 survey, the ACS found that 30.9 percent of Houstonians now held college degrees.

6. The national media continues to favor Houston.

In '14, Forbes ranked Houston as the nation's most competitive metro, the New York Times ranked Houston as the top destination for college graduates, and Manufacturers' News ranked Houston as the nation's top manufacturing city.

7. Houstonians are generous and care about their neighbors.

The United Way of Greater Houston '13 – '14 campaign hit an all-time high, receiving $83.7 million in pledges and donations, breaking the record for contributions for the third consecutive year. The goal for the '14-'15 campaign is $85 million.

8. The Greater Houston Partnership's annual employment outlook will be held on December 11 this year, not December 3 like last year.

The later date provides more time to work on the forecast, which is welcome given the current uncertainty over oil prices. OPEC gathers in Vienna on Thanksgiving to discuss production quotas and that meeting will help determine prices going forward.

9. The long-term outlook for Houston remains bright.

Economist Ray Perryman expects Houston's economy to more than double in size by '40. Energy, services, wholesale/retail trade, manufacturing and finance/insurance/real estate are forecast to be the fastest growing sectors.

10. Final reason to give thanks:
J.J. Watt plays for the Houston Texans.
'Nuff said.

What will 2015 Look Like?

Houston Region Economic Outlook 2015

The Greater Houston Partnership is hosting its annual Economic Outlook Event Thursday, December 11th, at the Omni Hotel, Four Riverway.

This year's panel features experts in four key sectors:

KHOU-11 news anchor Len Cannon will moderate the panel discussion.

Global economist Ellen Hughes-Cromwick, most recently with Ford Motor Company, will be the luncheon keynote speaker. She will provide the U.S. and global economic outlook. Patrick Jankowski, GHP Vice President of Research, will present the 2015 Houston employment forecast.

Full-program tickets include the panel discussion, GHP's forecast, luncheon, keynote speech, and a copy of Houston Economic Highlights, a 60-page compendium of insights into changes that have occurred in Houston's economy over the past decade. Luncheon tickets include the keynote and GHP's forecast.

For more information on the event, please click here


Another Wowser for Houston

Houstonians like to tout how well the region has performed since the bottom of the Great Recession. Since January '10, the region has created 446,000 jobs, nearly three for every one lost in the recession.

We're negligent, however, for not touting the region's performance over the long run. Since January 2000, (i.e., the beginning of the century) the metro Houston area has created 727,500 jobs, more than any other U.S. metro area over the same period.

To add a "wowser," Houston's job creation since January '00 exceeds that of Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland and San Francisco combined. And Houston added those jobs in spite of suffering through recessions from '01 to '03, and again from '09 to '10. For a keener insight into how Houston's long-term job creation compares to its peers, check out the chart below.

Jobs Created in Houston since January 1, 2014

Houston Region Economic Outlook 2015

What will 2015 Look Like?

The Greater Houston Partnership is hosting its annual Economic Outlook Event Thursday, December 11th, at the Omni Hotel, Four Riverway.

This year's panel features experts in four key sectors:

Global economist Ellen Hughes-Cromwick, most recently with Ford Motor Company, will be the luncheon keynote speaker. She will provide the U.S. and global economic outlook. Patrick Jankowski, GHP Vice President of Research, will present the 2015 Houston employment forecast.

Full-program tickets include the panel discussion, GHP's forecast, luncheon, keynote speech, and a copy of Houston Economic Highlights, a 60-page compendium of insights into changes that have occurred in Houston's economy over the past decade. Luncheon tickets include the keynote and GHP's forecast.

For more information on the event, please click here


Happy Birthday Houston

Houston celebrates its 178th birthday on Saturday, August 30. In honor of the occasion, here are a few facts about the city's early history:

    Sam Houston
  1. Houston's founders were Yankees. August C. and John K. Allen were born in New York. They came to Texas in 1824 to seek their fortune and during the Texas Revolution ran supplies to the Texas Army. They set out to found the city shortly after Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836.
  2. The Allen brothers needed a woman's purse to pursue their ambitions. Having little money of their own, they used the inheritance of Charlotte Baldwin Allen, August's wife, to purchase land for the city.1
  3. The current site was the brothers' third attempt to establish the city of Houston. They first tried to buy the community of Morgans Point, but the deal fell through, the reason why lost to history. Next the brothers tried to buy the town Harrisburg, but title to the land was tied up in litigation. The brothers finally acquired a vacant tract at the "confluence of White Oak and Buffalo Bayous" and hired Gail and Thomas H. Borden to survey and map the town.2
  4. The Allen Brothers paid $5,000 for the half league of land, 4,428.4 acres, that comprised the original city. That equates to about $1.13 per acre. Land in the north end of downtown now sells for $100 per square foot.
  5. The Allens were shameless promoters. They named their city after the most popular man of the day, Sam Houston, the general who had led the Texan Army to victory four months earlier at San Jacinto. They placed an advertisement in the Telegraph and Texas Register that promoted Houston as "located at a point on the river which must ever command the trade of the largest and richest portion of Texas." The ad also went on to say, "There is no place in Texas more healthy, having an abundance of excellent spring water, and enjoying the sea breeze in all its freshness." They also offered to donate land and buildings to the new republic if Houston were chosen as the capital.
  6. On November 30, 1836, the 49-member legislature chose Houston over 15 other contenders to be the capital of the fledgling nation. The brothers were true to their word, donating numerous lots (including a few to their friend Sam Houston) and erected a capitol building. Appropriately, the structure was on Texas Avenue. The Post Rice Lofts (formerly the Rice Hotel) sit on the site of the old capital.
  7. From the beginning, the Allens saw Houston as a port. Their notice in the Telegraph and Texas Register boasted steamships could make the trip along Buffalo Bayou from Galveston to Houston in eight to 10 hours. In January 1837, the first ship to attempt the journey, the Laura, encountered so many snags and sandbars that the trip took three days.
  8. Within three years, almost everything that could go wrong for the fledgling city went wrong. In 1839, 10 percent of Houston's population died from recurring epidemics of yellow fever. New Orleans merchants cut off all credit to Houston merchants and local store shelves went bare. The Republic's currency dropped from parity with the U.S. dollar, to 50 cents, to 25 cents, and finally to 10 cents on the dollar. And in a near coup de grace, the legislature moved the capital from Houston to Waterloo, known today as Austin.
  9. Early in 1840, eight men met to consider three options for the city: let Houston die, relocate the city to another site, or tackle the problems facing the town. The men decided to form the Houston Chamber of Commerce to try and save the city. The Greater Houston Partnership traces its roots to that organization. A copy of the charter, dating to 1840 and signed by Republic of Texas President Mirabeau Lamar, hangs in the Partnership's lobby.3

End Notes

1 John died of heart failure in 1838. August disagreed with Charlotte over how to divide John's estate and in 1850 returned to New York. Charlotte lived in the city she helped found until 1895, died at the age of 90, and is buried in Glenwood Cemetery.

2 In December 1926, Harrisburg, with a population of about 1,460, was formally annexed to Houston. The boulevard on the east end of downtown is the only remnant of that town.

3 The founders of the chamber were E.S. Perkins, John W. Pitkin, Francis R. Lubbock, Henry Kesler, J. DeCordova, J. Hart, Charles A. Morris, and John Carrols.

Sources: Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Association; Decisive Years for Houston, by Marvin Hurley; Houston, a History, by David G. McComb.



  1. If the Houston metro area were an independent nation, it would rank as the world's 27th largest economy, according to the International Monetary Fund – behind Argentina ($488.2 billion), but ahead of Austria ($415.4 billion) and the United Arab Emirates ($396.2 billion).
  2. Average weekly wage in Harris County in the fourth quarter of 2013 was $1,316 – 31.6 percent above the U.S. average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (Self-employed persons were not included in the data).
  3. Houston, a major corporate center, ranks 3rd among U.S. metro areas in the number of corporate headquarters contained on the 2014 Fortune 500 list. Twenty-six Fortune 500 companies call Houston home.
  4. Houston has more than 89,620 engineers, architects, drafters and technicians of all disciplines, the most numerous being: civil, industrial, petroleum, mechanical, electrical/electronic and aerospace.
  5. The Houston MSA employs over 290,000 employees in the health care industry.
  6. The Houston MSA contains 62 school districts and 50 state-approved charter schools that reported 2013 enrollment of 1,252,660 students.
  7. In 2013, the Port of Houston ranked 1st in foreign tonnage among U.S. ports for 18 consecutive years, 1st in import tonnage for 23 consecutive years, and 2nd in total tonnage for 22 consecutive years.
  8. The Houston MSA in 2013, according to PKF Consulting, had 804 major hotels and motels, totaling 74,840 rooms. Another 1,069 rooms were under construction in 2013, slated for completion in 2014.
  9. More than 500 institutions are devoted to the performing and visual arts, science and history in the Houston area.
  10. In 1905,Houston had 80 automobiles.

Those details come from Houston Facts, a 54-page compendium of data gathered by the Partnership's research team. As explained in the introduction to Houston Facts:

"The title says much about this publication. No spin. No frills. No hyperbole. Just page after page of straightforward information from more than 300 sources to answer questions most frequently asked about the Houston region."

The Partnership and its predecessor organization have published Houston Facts continuously since 1959. There's even an old version in the files by a different name dating to 1906. The format may have changed over the years, but the purpose of the document hasn't—present unvarnished information about Houston. Check it out. The publication can be accessed here. Hard copies can be purchased by calling 713-844-9366.

MONDAY JULY 21, 2014

Outlook for U.S. Improving

This week, I want to cover the results of the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) most-recent quarterly Business Conditions Survey. I sit on the committee which tabulates the results; I'm also president of NABE's Houston Chapter.

NABE asks a select group of economists across the U.S. representing a broad spectrum of industries for their insights into current and future economic trends. A few highlights:

Bottom line: The U.S. economy continues to grow and the near-term outlook remains strong. To find out more about the survey, click here.

If you are a member of the media and have additional questions, feel free to contact me at


Ten Facts Everyone Should Know About Houston's Economy

Houston, with 6.3 million residents, is the fifth most populous metro in the nation.

Houston has climbed in the rankings over the past two decades. The metro population ranked tenth in 1990, eighth in 2000, sixth in 2010, and fifth today.

Nonfarm payroll employment is at the highest point in Houston's history.

The job count exceeds 2.8 million and will surpass 2.9 million later this year. Since the bottom of the recession, the region has added 407,300 jobs, more than two for every one lost in the recession.

Houston's unemployment rate stood at 5.0 percent in May 2014.

The U.S. rate stands at 5.9 percent. The rates are not seasonally adjusted.

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates Houston's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) topped $449.4 billion in 2012.

GDP grew $92.9 billion from 2009 to 2012. Houston had the fourth largest U.S. metro GDP in 2012.

Twenty-six Fortune 500 companies call Houston home.

Houston ranks third in Fortune 500 headquarters, behind New York (72) and Chicago (33), and ahead of Los Angeles (21), Washington D.C. (20), and Dallas/Fort Worth (19). Houston's 26 firms reported combined revenues of $599.7 billion in 2013.

No racial or ethnic group represents a majority of the population.

Anglos comprise 38.8 percent of total population; Hispanics comprise 35.9 percent; Blacks 16.7 percent; Asians 6.7 percent; other and mixed races 1.9 percent.

Nearly 1.4 million Houston residents, 22.3 percent of the local population, were foreign-born.

Central and South America provides the bulk of the immigrant population, (910,000 residents), followed by Asia (330,000), Africa (61,000), Europe (60,000), Canada (15,000) and Oceania (3,000).

Since the April 2010 Census, Houston has added 390,000 residents.

Approximately 200,000 arrived via the moving van and 190,000 via the maternity ward.

More than 1.1 million Houstonians, 29.6 percent of the adult population, have college degrees.

This includes approximately 750,000 with Bachelor's and 400,000 with Graduate degrees.

The Houston-Galveston Customs District handles more than $250 billion in foreign trade in a typical year.

In 2013, $128.9 billion in exports and $122.9 billion in imports passed through the region. Leading commodities—agricultural products, chemicals, crude, electrical machinery, industrial machinery, plastics, refined products and steel.

MONDAY MAY 19, 2014

Houston Won't Overtake Chicago Anytime Soon

Next time a realtor, banker or waiter tells you that Houston will soon overtake Chicago in population, ask them to read this blog entry. While Houston is growing incredibly fast and Chicago is growing incredibly slow, there's a huge gap between the two that will take decades to close. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin metro population at 9.5 million and the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metro population at 6.3 million1. To close the gap, Houston would need to add 3.2 million more residents, a 51.1 percent population increase.

How long will it take to close the gap? Several views of the data:

From 1980 to 2013, the Houston region added 3.1 million residents. That's equal to 33 years of historic growth for Houston. This suggests Houston is three and a half decades away from reaching where Chicago is today, and as Houston grows, so does Chicago, albeit, at a slower pace.

Two well-respected firms, IHS Global Insight and Woods & Poole Economics, produce population forecasts for the nation.

If one extrapolates from IHS Global Insight and Woods & Poole, Houston won't overtake Chicago until mid-century.

Population Forecasts - Houston - Chicago

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning forecasts the Chicago region's population to top 11.04 million in 2040. The Houston-Galveston Area Council forecasts the population of the eight metropolitan counties in its service area will top 9.5 million in 20402.

The Texas State Data Center's moderate growth scenario (which it recommends for long-range planning) calls for Houston's population to top 9.1 million in 20403. The Perryman Group forecasts Houston's population to be 10.25 million in 2040. Both fall shy of the 11-million-plus population expected for Chicago in various forecasts.

The gap the city of Houston has to bridge to overtake the city of Chicago is not as wide but still formidable. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the city of Houston's population at 2.16 million and the city of Chicago's at 2.71 million, a gap of about 550,0004. Since 2010, Houston's population has grown by 31,000 residents per year, the city of Chicago's by 10,000. At that rate, Houston may overtake Chicago in about 26 years.

So while the Houston-Chicago population gap will narrow over time, it will remain quite large for the next few decades. The earliest the city of Houston might overtake the city of Chicago would be 2040. The earliest the Houston metro area would overtake Chicago would be mid-century. That's assuming present growth patterns hold for the next 25-plus years. A lot can happen in a quarter century. Stay tuned.

1As of July 1, 2013.
2HGAC omits Austin County, which currently has fewer than 30,000 residents, from its forecast.
3The Texas State Data Center does have a growth scenario for Houston that shows the region's population at 11.6 million in 2040, but this assumes the pace of in-migration to Houston over the next 50 years replicates that of 2000-2010.
4Population is as of July 1, 2012. City population estimates for July 1, 2013 will be released on Thursday, May 22.


Houston's Population Tops 6.3 Million

The Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) added more residents last year than any other U.S. metro area. That's according to the U.S. Census Bureau's recently released estimates. The New York-Newark-Jersey City metro area ranked second in population growth while the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metro ranked third. Houston's metro population grew by 137,692 last year, a 2.2 percent increase, and stood at 6,313,158 on July 1, 2013, the date of the bureau's estimate1.

Nationally, two Houston area counties stand out. Harris County had the largest numeric population increase, adding 82,890 residents. Harris remains the nation's third most populous county (4,336,853 residents), behind Los Angeles County, CA (10,017,068 residents) and Cook County, IL (5,240,700 residents). Fort Bend had the fastest growth rate (4.2 percent) among counties with 250,000 or more people. Every Houston MSA county experienced population growth last year.

Net in-migration (the difference between those moving into Houston minus those moving out) accounted for 59 percent of the region's population increase. The net natural increase (local births minus deaths) accounted for 41 percent of the growth.

Another way to look at population growth in Houston last year:

All told, Houston's population grew by one new resident every 3.8 minutes last year. If the region grows at the same pace in 2014, Houston's population will exceed 6.4 million by this time next year.


Another Chart That Says a Lot about Houston

Among the nation's 10 most populous metro areas, Houston recorded the fastest rate of job growth in '13, with nonfarm payroll employment growing 3.0 percent from December '12 to December '13.

Among the nation's top 20 metros, Houston tied with Tampa in rate of job growth. Key differences between the two metros:

Growth rates for the top 20 metros are below.

Percentage change in Houston employment


Let me count the ways

Valentines Day

Valentine's Day is Friday. To get readers in the spirit, this blog entry looks at the data behind the celebration.

Valentines Day401 — Number of jewelry stores in Houston. This doesn't include the jewelry departments in Houston's 736 general merchandise stores (e.g., Macy's, Dillard's, J.C. Penney and Target).

Valentines Day173 — Number of florists in Houston. This doesn't include the floral departments in Houston's 956 super markets or the vendors that seem to erect tents at every busy intersection this time of year.

$19.1 million — Value of flowers imported through Bush Intercontinental Airport in February last year. Nationwide, flower imports totaled $113.9 million in February '13.

Valentines Day3,631 — Number of full-service restaurants in Houston. If you like ethnic or regional food, there are more than 70 varieties in Houston. If you like a cheap date, there are 4,941 fast food and take-out restaurants in the region.

Valentines Day26.6 years — Median age nationwide for the first marriage for women in '13. Men tend to drag their heels. The median age of first marriage for men in '13 was 29.0 years.

49.9 — Percentage of people 15 and older in Houston who reported being married in '12. The percentage of people 15 and older in '12 who had been married at some point in their lives, either currently or formerly (e.g., separated, widowed, divorced), was 67.2.

Valentines Day393 — The number of dating service establishments nationwide, including internet sites, as of '07. Or you can try the old-fashioned way—there are more than 600 traditional bars in Houston.

Sources: 2012 County Business Patterns, WISERTrade Data, 2012 American Community Survey, 2007 Economic Census, Houston Facts 2013


A Chart That Says A Lot About Houston

Houston was the first among the nation's major metro areas to recover all the jobs it lost in the recession. The region lost 153,100 jobs between December '08 and January '10. Growth resumed in February'10 and the region has since created 362,000 jobs, or 2.4 jobs for every one job lost.

Houston's recovery looks a bit different, but not much, if one looks at seasonally adjusted data. The region lost 117,400 jobs between August '08 and December '09. Job growth resumed January '10 and the region has since created 315,000 jobs, or 2.7 jobs for each one lost.

The only metro that comes close to Houston is Dallas-Ft. Worth, and the metroplex still falls far short of our performance. The percent of jobs recouped (on a seasonal basis) in each of the nation's 20 most populous metro areas can be seen in the chart below.

Jobs Recovered

The fact that more than four years into the recovery only eight of the nation's 20 most populous metro areas have returned to their pre-recession employment levels underscores how weak the overall U.S. recovery has been—and how well Houston has performed.


Santa by the Numbers

Requests for information flood the Partnership's Research Department throughout the year. Typically the requests are for demographic profiles, economic forecasts, CEO biographies, maps, lists, charts, etc. But in recent weeks the department has been inundated with requests for information about our much-anticipated visitor from the North Pole. Unfortunately, the department's limited resources don't allow us to answer the requests individually, so the research team has consolidated the requests into seven basic questions. Those questions and their answers follow.

Where in the night sky should I look if I want to see Santa as he makes his rounds in Houston?

There is a common misconception that Kris Kringle crosses the U.S.-Canadian border in upper Michigan. Santa runs the most reliable small-package delivery system in the world. Logistics dictate he begins his route on the East Coast, so he crosses the U.S.-Canadian border near the tip of Maine. Here's why.

Santa's Travel Route Any traveler who's taken a long-distance flight has experienced the magic of time zones. Their plane departs at noon, flies for four hours, and upon landing it's only one o'clock. Santa puts this magic to good use on Christmas Eve. He enters U.S. airspace near Madawaska, Maine, and while in the Eastern Time Zone zigzags along the Atlantic seaboard. At midnight, when he slides down his first chimney in Portland, ME it's only 9 p.m. in Sacramento, CA. This phenomenon helps the jolly old elf to make all his deliveries in one night. FYI—the commercial delivery services DHL and UPS have also caught on. The former has a hub in Cincinnati, the latter in Louisville, both in the Eastern Time Zone.

That Santa begins his run on the East Coast also explains why he enters Texas via Louisiana, not from Oklahoma as many believe. At the end of his East Coast run, somewhere near Tallahassee, FL, Santa crosses into the Central Time Zone. He works his way across Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana and begins his Texas deliveries in the Beaumont-Port Arthur area before flying on to Houston. The first homes he visits in the 11-county Houston metro area are near Wallisville and Maxey Roads. So to answer the question, Houstonians have a better chance of seeing Santa and his sleigh in the night sky if they look east, rather than north, around midnight.

How many children in Houston will receive presents from Santa?

U.S. Security and ExchangeNot being subject to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission regulations, Santa remains secretive about his operations. However, using U.S. Census Bureau data and a little deductive reasoning the Partnership has calculated how many children in Houston will receive a visit from Santa on Christmas Eve.

According to the Bureau's American Community Survey, there are 1,695,905 children under the age of 18 in Houston. GHP estimates that 96 percent of the children are on the "nice" list and four percent are on the "naughty" list. These percentages are based on the assumption that in a typical class of 25 students there will be one bully. (25 students times four equals 100; 100 minus four bullies equals 96). Applying 96 percent to the Houstonians under the age of 18 gives us the answer: 1,628,068 children in Houston will receive presents from Santa this year.

How many presents will Santa deliver?

Gifts Per ChildThis calculation is actually quite simple. A child who has been exceptional all year typically receives as many as five presents; a child who has been merely good, three presents; a child who has simply not been naughty, one present. Assuming each child receives an average of three presents, Santa will deliver 4,884,206 presents in Houston this year.

Delivering all those packages seems like a logistical nightmare. How is Santa able to make sure the right presents go to each child?

GiftsSanta's elves have their own proprietary system for labeling and sorting that companies like FedEx, UPS and DHL, as good as they are, have not been able to replicate. Furthermore, the workshop has a zero tolerance policy for error. This ensures a 100-percent-accurate delivery rate. Not once in the history of Kringle Enterprises has there been a mistake. Think about it. Have you ever heard of any family waking on Christmas morning to find presents for "Bobby" or "Suzie" under the tree yet there being no one by those names in the house?

How does Santa get all those packages in his sleigh?

The elves sort and stack the packages in much the same way freight companies stack boxes on cargo vessels. Where do you think Maersk, Nedloyd, and Hanjin got the idea for container ships?

How much candy will Santa place in Houston-area stockings?

Christmas Stocking Let's assume the treats that Santa places in the stockings at the Jankowski household are typical of what he delivers to all Houston homes—a large Hershey bar, a bag of Twizzlers, a reasonable size bag of Hershey Kisses, a dozen generic candy canes, Christmas Stocking Contentsa bag of gummy bears, a box of Christmas Skittles, a chocolate snowman, one pack of gum (sugarless), and a package of beef jerky. Total weight: 2 pounds 8 ounces. Multiply that times the number of children on the "nice" list in Houston and Santa will deliver 2,312 metric tons of sweets to Houston homes on Christmas Eve. Measured in caloric value it's even more impressive—5,415 calories per stocking or 8.8 billion total calories. Note: Gym memberships are popular gifts for children as well as adults.

Final question: It's customary for children to leave milk and cookies for Santa. How much does he consume in a night?

First not everyone is considerate enough to leave something so the old elf can keep his strength up while making his rounds. And some families have been known to leave wine and cheese or beer and a cigar, which Santa does not touch. But assuming 90 percent of all households leave milk and cookies, and the traditional snack is an eight-ounce glass plus three gingerbread men, Santa consumes 41,896 gallons of milk and 2,011,003 cookies. He has a high metabolic rate so he burns off nearly all the calories before he returns to the North Pole.

A final greeting

Champaign Toast Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone from the GHP research team — Jenny, Deborah, Roel, Josh, Edith, Deanna and Patrick.


2014 Employment Forecast

On December 3, the Greater Houston Partnership issued its 2014 employment forecast at a half-day event held at the Hilton Americas. The highlights of the forecast:



Light travels at the rate of 186,282 miles per second.

The American Thoroughbred "Secretariat" holds the record for the fastest time at the Kentucky Derby, winning the 1973 race with a time of 1:592/5 minutes.

British Royal Air Force pilot Andy Green traveled 763.035 miles per hour on October 15, 1997 (faster than the speed of sound) and set a new land speed record.

How fast is Houston growing?

Through the first ten months of 2013 . . .

Through the first nine months of 2013 . . .

Through the first eight months of 2013 . . .

It's too soon to determine whether 2013 will set any records, but at the current pace of growth the year should finish up as one of the best ever.

What will 2014 Look Like?

Jobs Outlook 2014 GHP is hosting its annual Economic Outlook Event Tuesday, December 3, at the Hilton Americas. This year's event features a panel of business leaders discussing Houston economic trends. The panelists include:

Shern-Min Chow, Anchor for KHOU-TV, will moderate the panel discussion.

John E. Silvia, Chief Economist, Wells Fargo, will be the luncheon keynote speaker. He will provide the U.S. economic outlook. Patrick Jankowski, GHP Vice President of Research, will present the 2014 Houston employment forecast.

Jobs Outlook 2014

Full-day tickets include the panel discussion, GHP's forecast, luncheon, keynote speech, and a copy of Houston Economic Highlights, A 60-page compendium of insights into changes that have occurred in Houston's economy over the past decade.

For more information on the event, please click here.


Houston Doing More Than Its Share

Texas has received many accolades in recent months. Forbes, Time, The Daily Beast, Site Selection Magazine, Area Development and Global Trade have all touted the state's robust economy. The Lone Star State is first in job creation, first in export growth, first in population growth, first in relocations and expansions. Each week the list grows longer.

What's often overlooked is Houston's contribution to the state's prosperity. The Bayou City has less than one-fourth the state's population yet, depending on the category, accounts for a third to half the state's economic growth. No other Texas metro can make that claim. What follows are five indicators of Texas growth and Houston's share of those metrics.

Gross Domestic Product

Job CreationTexas gross domestic product—the broadest measure of economic activity—grew by $257.1 billion between '09 and '12. The Houston area accounted for more than one-third of that growth. Houston's contribution exceeds that of Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth combined.


Millions of Dollars* Change % Texas
State/Metro '12 '09 $ %
Texas $1,397,369 $1,140,218 $257,151 22.6% 100.0
Houston $449,439 $356,514 $92,925 26.1% 36.1
Austin $98,677 $80,542 $18,135 22.5% 7.1
Dallas-Ft. Worth $420,340 $352,993 $67,347 19.1% 26.2
San Antonio $91,995 $76,864 $15,131 19.7% 5.9
El Paso $29,717 $25,745 $3,972 15.4% 1.5
Rest of State $307,201 $247,560 $59,641 24.1% 23.2
Note: '09 was chosen as the base because it was the bottom of the recession.
2009 Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis * nominal dollars


Texas ExportsTexas exports grew from $206.9 billion in 2010 to $264.7 billion in 2012, an increase of $57.7 billon. Houston accounted for more than half of that growth. It helps that the metro area has four ports—Houston, Texas City, Galveston and Freeport—whose combined shipments exceed $79.8 billion.


Shipments (Millions) Change % of Texas
State/Metro '12 '10 $ %
Texas $264,709 $206,992 $57,716 27.9% 100.0
Houston $110,298 $80,570 $29,728 36.9% 51.5
Austin $8,977 $8,868 $109 1.2% 0.2
Dallas-Ft. Worth $27,821 $22,500 $5,321 23.6% 9.2
San Antonio $14,010 $6,416 $7,594 118.4% 13.2
El Paso $12,797 $10,316 $2,481 24.1% 4.3
Rest of State $90,806 $78,322 $12,484 15.9% 21.6
Source: U.S. International Trade Administration

Bank Deposits

Bank DepositsBank deposits at FDIC-insured institutions in Texas grew more than $153.1 billion between June 30, 2010 and June 30, 2013. Nearly half that growth occurred at Houston financial institutions. Houston's growth exceeded the combined growth of Austin, Dallas-Ft. Worth, San Antonio and El Paso.


Total Deposits (Billions) Change % of Texas
State/Metro '13 '10 $ %
Texas $652,387 $499,211 $153,176 30.7% 100.0
Houston $208,033 $137,113 $70,920 51.7% 46.3
Austin $30,293 $22,967 $7,326 31.9% 4.8
Dallas-Ft. Worth $187,998 $154,211 $33,787 21.9% 22.1
San Antonio $82,387 $59,800 $22,587 37.8% 14.7
El Paso $6,832 $5,963 $868 14.6% 0.6
Rest of State $136,846 $119,157 $17,688 14.8% 11.5
Source: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)

Housing Construction

HousingMore than 300,000 single-family homes have been built in Texas since January 2010. The state has led the nation's housing recovery. One in every three homes constructed in Texas since January 2010 was built in metro Houston.


Jan '10 – Aug '13
State/Metro Homes % of Texas
Texas 275,329 100.0
Houston 98,254 35.7
Austin 26,948 9.8
Dallas-Ft. Worth 61,326 22.3
San Antonio 18,782 6.8
El Paso 11,119 4.0
Rest of State 58,900 21.4
Source: U.S. Census Bureau



Employment in Texas is at a record high. The state has recovered all jobs lost in the recession plus some. Houston has contributed more than any other metro to that new watermark.

The statement is based on a simple premise. A metro must recover what it lost before it expands, and it's the jobs created in the expansion that help the state set new records for job growth. By that measure, Houston has created more jobs during the expansion than any other Texas metro. Houston's employment is 175,700 jobs above its previous peak, which equates to nearly one-third of the jobs created during the state's expansion. Dallas, which took slightly longer to recover, is 153,500 above its previous peak, which equates to slightly over one-fourth the Texas jobs created in the expansion.


Texas Houston Austin Dallas-Ft. Worth San Antonio El Paso
Previous Jobs Peak 10,635,700 2,615,100 778,800 2,987,200 854,500 280,200
Jobs Lost in Recession -422,100 -117,400 -24,000 -152,900 -22,800 -8,000
Return to Peak Nov '11 Nov '11 Nov '10 Mar '12 Apr '11 Jul '11
Current Employment 11,188,700 2,790,800 847,500 3,140,700 890,100 285,200
Jobs Above Previous Peak 553,000 175,700 68,700 153,500 35,600 5,000
% of Texas New Jobs 100.0% 31.8% 12.4% 27.8% 6.4% 0.9%
Note: All employment numbers are seasonally adjusted.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What will 2014 Look Like?

Jobs Outlook 2014 GHP is hosting its annual Economic Outlook Event Tuesday, December 3, at the Hilton Americas. This year's event features a panel of business leaders discussing Houston economic trends. The panelists include:

Shern-Min Chow, Anchor for KHOU-TV, will moderate the panel discussion.

John E. Silvia, Chief Economist, Wells Fargo, will be the luncheon keynote speaker. He will provide the U.S. economic outlook. Patrick Jankowski, GHP Vice President of Research, will present the 2014 Houston employment forecast.

Full-day tickets include the panel discussion, GHP's forecast, luncheon, keynote speech, and a copy of Houston Economic Highlights, A 60-page compendium of insights into changes that have occurred in Houston's economy over the past decade.

For more information on the event, please click here Jobs Outlook 2014


If Houston were a Village of 100 People . . .

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that metro Houston had 6,177,035 residents on July 1, 2012. Based on recent trends, the region's population probably exceeds 6.3 million today. That's a hard number for some to fathom, especially when one considers all the demographic, social and economic characteristics of 6.3 million people. But if Houston were a village of 100 people, that might be easier to grasp. Based on recently released census data, if Houston were a village of 100 people this is how our hamlet would look:

If Houston were a village of 100 people:
There would be:
10 Houstonians would have disabilities

If Houston were a village of 100 people:

If Houston were a village of 100 people:

If Houston were a village of 100 people, there would be::

If Houston were a village of 100 people, among the 63 adults:

If Houston were a village of 100 people, among the residents over the age of 16:

If Houston were a village of 100 people, among the employed residents:

Of those holding jobs:
If Houston were a village of 100 people, 16 would live in poverty; seven of those would be children.

The village numbers are derived from the Census Bureau's 2012 American Community Survey. When calculating the village, the residents were rounded to the nearest whole number, (i.e., only 1.7 workers would be employed in energy, but who ever heard of seven-tenths of a person.) The actual population numbers and percentages can be found at the U.S. Census Bureau website,, once the federal shutdown ends and the website is back up.

noteOn another note: GHP is hosting its Economic Outlook Event Tuesday, December 3, at the Hilton Americas. The event includes a panel of local business leaders discussing Houston economic trends; the Partnership's employment forecast for 2014; a copy of Houston Economic Highlights (a 60-page compendium of economic and demographic insights); and a luncheon with a keynote presentation by John Silvia, Chief Economist for Wells Fargo. For more information on the event, please click here.


It costs less to live in Houston

Houston has the lowest cost of living among the nation's most populous metropolitan areas. That's according to data released recently by the Washington-based Council for Community and Economic Research, also known as C2ER.

C2ER publishes a quarterly Cost of Living Index. The organization has been doing so for more than 40 years. The index is based on a basket of goods and services, 57 items ranging from groceries, to housing, to health care to entertainment, that reflect typical purchases for a professional- or middle-management household.

The index for the second quarter of '13 shows that Houston's housing costs are 37.8 percent below the average for all metros with 2.5 million or more residents. Houston's overall living costs are 18.2 percent below the average for this group. If one excludes the most expensive housing markets—San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, DC and San Diego—markets which tend to skew the average, Houston's housing costs are still 22.8 percent below the major metro average.

Cost of Living Comparisons

Cost of Living Comparisons

For all 304 urban areas in the survey, Houston's housing costs are 12.7 percent below the average and overall living costs are 6.8 below the average. That's for both large and small urban areas. So even though housing costs have risen recently, housing is still a bargain in Houston. To learn about the Council for Community and Economic Research click here. To learn about the Cost of Living Index, click here.


Beep beep'm beep beep yeah!

Houstonians like their cars, but that's not surprising. So do most Americans. And the half hour we spend in traffic every morning may seem like forever, but it's actually about average for a major metro. At least that's what data recently released from the U.S. Census Bureau tells us.

According to the Census Bureau's 2012 American Community Survey:

Means Houstonians Travel to Work

What's the American Community Survey? The ACS is an ongoing statistical survey that Census send to approximately 250,000 addresses across the nation monthly. It provides a snapshot of the demographic, social, economic and housing characteristics of the population. Questions on commuting are a key part of the survey.

A few more insights about Houston commuters:

The average travel time here is 28.6 minutes compared to 26.2 minutes on average for the nation's 50 largest metros.

One in three Houstonians travels less than 20 minutes to work each day, but one in ten travels more than an hour.

Want to beat the traffic? Then leave early. One in nine commuters leaves the house between 6:00 and 6:30 a.m. One in four leaves between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m. And it's a good bet that some of the commuters who left early are still on the road after 6:30.

A few notes of caution about the data. The ACS reflects typical commute times and patterns in 2012. The region's economy has grown considerably, adding 51,000 jobs since January 1 this year that affect current commute patterns. That suggests an additional 40,000 commuters on the roads and highways each morning. Also the ACS does not examine travel patterns of students enrolled in schools, colleges and universities, many of who leave for classes at the same time job holders leave for work. Even with its flaws, the survey provides insight and a means to compare commute times across metro areas. A look at how Houston fared (in 2012) against the top 50 can be found below.

50 Most Populous Metros - Ranked by Commuters Who Drive Alone
Metro Area Car, Truck, Van Drive Alone Carpool Public Transit Walk Bicycle Other Work at Home
1 Birmingham, AL 94.9 85.7 9.1 0.6 1.0 0.1 0.5 2.9
2 Detroit, MI 92.7 83.7 8.9 1.6 1.3 0.3 0.8 3.4
3 Cincinnati, OH 91.9 83.5 8.3 1.8 2.0 0.1 0.7 3.5
4 Kansas City, MO 92.2 83.2 8.9 1.1 1.3 0.2 1.1 4.2
5 Memphis, TN 93.5 83.0 10.5 1.2 1.2 0.1 0.9 3.0
6 Oklahoma City, OK 93.1 82.9 10.2 0.4 1.7 0.3 1.2 3.3
7 Louisville, KY 92.2 82.9 9.3 1.8 1.8 0.2 0.8 3.2
8 Buffalo, NY 90.4 82.9 7.5 3.0 2.9 0.5 0.8 2.3
9 Indianapolis, IN 92.0 82.6 9.4 1.2 1.6 0.3 0.9 4.0
10 Nashville, TN 92.0 82.4 9.6 1.1 1.2 0.1 1.0 4.7
11 St. Louis, MO 90.6 82.4 8.1 2.3 1.7 0.3 0.9 4.2
12 Cleveland-, OH 89.7 82.3 7.4 3.2 2.3 0.3 0.9 3.6
13 Columbus, OH 90.5 82.1 8.4 1.6 2.0 0.5 1.1 4.3
14 Richmond, VA 90.8 81.5 9.3 1.6 1.5 0.5 0.9 4.7
15 Hartford, CT 89.1 81.4 7.6 3.4 2.7 0.2 0.9 3.7
16 Dallas-Ft Worth, TX 91.0 80.9 10.2 1.5 1.2 0.2 1.5 4.6
17 Virginia Beach, VA 89.9 80.9 8.9 1.9 2.7 0.4 0.9 4.3
18 Orlando, FL 90.0 80.8 9.2 2.0 1.2 0.6 1.7 4.6
19 Jacksonville, FL 90.7 80.7 9.9 1.3 1.3 0.7 1.3 4.7
20 Providence, RI 89.2 80.4 8.8 2.9 3.2 0.3 1.1 3.2
21 Raleigh, NC 90.1 80.3 9.8 1.0 1.1 0.4 1.2 6.2
22 Milwaukee, WI 88.8 80.2 8.6 3.7 2.9 0.6 0.7 3.2
23 Tampa, FL 89.5 80.0 9.6 1.2 1.7 0.8 1.3 5.4
24 San Antonio, TX 90.8 79.7 11.1 2.3 1.7 0.1 1.0 4.1
25 Houston, TX 90.8 79.6 11.1 2.6 1.4 0.3 1.5 3.5
26 New Orleans, LA 89.6 79.2 10.4 2.7 2.5 1.0 1.6 2.6
27 Charlotte, NC 89.0 78.8 10.3 2.1 1.6 0.2 1.2 5.9
28 Las Vegas, NV 89.3 78.5 10.7 3.8 2.0 0.3 1.6 2.9
29 Minneapolis, MN 86.7 78.2 8.6 4.3 2.2 1.0 0.7 5.0
30 Atlanta, GA 88.5 78.0 10.5 2.9 1.4 0.1 1.1 5.9
31 Riverside, CA 91.1 77.7 13.4 1.5 1.6 0.4 1.0 4.4
32 Miami, FL 87.1 77.6 9.5 4.2 1.8 0.6 1.3 5.0
33 Phoenix, AZ 88.3 77.3 11.0 2.1 1.4 0.8 1.8 5.6
34 Pittsburgh, PA 86.3 77.3 9.0 5.5 3.4 0.3 0.9 3.6
35 San Jose, CA 87.0 76.5 10.6 3.4 1.6 1.9 1.4 4.6
36 Baltimore, MD 85.5 76.5 8.9 6.5 2.7 0.3 1.0 4.1
37 San Diego, CA 86.1 76.2 9.9 2.8 2.7 0.7 1.2 6.6
38 Austin, TX 87.0 76.0 11.0 2.3 2.0 0.9 1.4 6.4
39 Denver, CO 84.8 75.6 9.1 4.4 2.4 1.1 1.1 6.3
40 Sacramento, CA 86.6 75.5 11.2 2.3 2.2 1.9 0.9 6.0
41 Salt Lake City, UT 87.2 75.0 12.1 3.9 2.0 0.9 1.3 4.7
42 Los Angeles, CA 84.2 74.1 10.1 6.0 2.6 0.9 1.2 5.1
43 Philadelphia, PA 81.3 73.3 7.9 9.4 3.8 0.7 0.7 4.2
44 Chicago, IL 79.7 70.9 8.8 11.1 3.2 0.7 1.1 4.2
45 Portland, OR 80.6 70.8 9.7 6.0 3.8 2.3 1.0 6.4
46 Seattle, WA 80.1 69.6 10.5 8.5 3.6 1.2 1.1 5.5
47 Boston, MA 76.0 68.6 7.5 12.2 5.4 1.0 1.0 4.4
48 Washington, DC 76.0 65.8 10.2 14.1 3.2 0.8 0.9 5.0
49 San Francisco, CA 70.5 60.4 10.1 15.6 4.3 1.8 1.6 6.1
50 New York, NY 56.5 49.8 6.7 31.0 6.1 0.6 1.6 4.1
Top 50 Metro Avg 87.2 77.7 9.5 4.3 2.3 0.6 1.1 4.5
Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2012 American Community Survey

50 Most Populous Metros - Ranked by Average Commute Times

Time Leaving Home (a.m.) Travel Time To Work (Minutes)
Metro Area 6:00-6:30 6:30-7:30 7:30-8:30 < 20 60* Average
1 New York, NY 7.3 22.9 28.1 27.3 20.1 35.2
2 Washington, DC 9.3 22.9 24.7 25.5 16.6 34.0
3 Riverside, CA 9.2 21.4 17.5 37.7 16.4 31.2
4 Chicago, IL 10.1 23.8 22.2 31.8 12.8 30.6
5 San Francisco, CA 6.8 21.1 26.9 32.6 13.3 30.4
6 Atlanta, GA 9.5 24.9 23.9 31.6 10.7 30.0
7 Baltimore, MD 9.2 25.2 24.3 32.1 11.6 30.0
8 Boston, MA 8.3 24.0 26.8 34.7 12.1 29.5
9 Los Angeles, CA 8.9 22.4 22.5 34.3 11.3 28.9
10 Houston, TX 11.7 25.8 21.1 33.5 9.9 28.6
11 Philadelphia, PA 8.2 45.9 26.2 36.0 10.1 28.6
12 Seattle, WA 9.0 22.7 20.8 33.9 9.2 28.5
13 Miami, FL 7.4 23.7 26.5 32.0 8.1 28.0
14 Orlando, FL 7.7 22.6 25.0 34.7 7.0 27.3
15 Dallas-Ft Worth, TX 9.4 25.5 23.3 36.5 7.6 27.1
16 Denver, CO 9.5 26.8 23.3 34.9 6.7 26.9
17 Pittsburgh, PA 9.2 25.0 22.4 39.6 8.1 26.5
18 Nashville, TN 10.2 28.1 20.9 38.1 6.5 26.3
19 Detroit, MI 8.2 23.8 23.0 37.3 6.5 26.2
20 Tampa, FL 8.4 25.6 26.0 39.0 6.6 25.9
21 Birmingham, AL 9.7 30.2 20.5 37.4 6.2 25.8
22 Phoenix, AZ 10.0 23.9 19.6 37.1 6.0 25.8
23 San Jose, CA 6.9 19.0 25.1 37.7 7.1 25.7
24 Charlotte, NC 8.4 25.5 25.5 39.1 5.6 25.6
25 Providence, RI 8.4 25.1 24.7 43.7 8.2 25.5
26 Austin, TX 8.2 26.3 25.0 40.0 6.5 25.5
27 St. Louis, MO 10.2 25.8 21.9 39.3 5.9 25.4
28 New Orleans, LA 9.2 25.4 23.2 41.6 7.8 25.4
29 Sacramento, CA 7.5 24.0 24.0 42.8 6.7 25.4
30 Jacksonville, FL 9.4 25.4 24.5 39.5 5.5 25.2
31 Indianapolis, IN 9.0 26.7 24.7 38.9 5.0 25.1
32 Portland, OR 8.8 24.0 22.4 40.8 6.0 25.1
33 Richmond, VA 8.0 25.0 26.6 39.7 5.2 25.0
34 San Antonio, TX 10.3 28.1 21.3 39.9 5.9 24.9
35 Minneapolis, MN 8.6 26.3 23.8 38.9 5.5 24.9
36 Cleveland-, OH 8.7 25.7 24.0 39.9 4.8 24.6
37 San Diego, CA 9.3 24.4 21.8 41.0 5.6 24.6
38 Raleigh, NC 7.9 24.9 27.3 40.3 4.9 24.5
39 Cincinnati, OH 8.9 25.9 23.7 40.7 4.8 24.2
40 Las Vegas, NV 8.3 19.8 18.4 37.2 4.6 24.1
41 Virginia Beach, VA 11.4 24.7 21.7 42.6 4.8 24.0
42 Louisville, KY 8.3 24.1 22.8 41.5 4.2 23.7
43 Memphis, TN 9.2 25.9 23.1 39.7 3.3 23.5
44 Hartford, CT 7.7 25.9 27.0 44.8 4.6 23.4
45 Salt Lake City, UT 7.5 23.3 24.7 42.9 4.0 23.2
46 Milwaukee, WI 8.8 25.9 22.9 43.8 4.4 23.1
47 Columbus, OH 7.7 25.7 24.7 42.8 3.8 22.8
48 Kansas City, MO 8.5 26.8 26.4 44.6 3.4 22.7
49 Oklahoma City, OK 8.8 26.8 24.6 47.2 3.3 22.0
50 Buffalo, NY 7.1 24.7 26.3 50.3 3.2 20.9
Top 50 Metro Avg 8.8 25.2 23.8 38.4 7.4 26.2
Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2012 American Community Survey


Bigger Than You Think

Houstonians sometimes take for granted the region's economic muscle. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has provided the data and the Greater Houston Partnership conducted the analysis to put the region's economy in perspective.

According to BEA, Houston's gross domestic product—the most comprehensive measure of a region's economic activity—climbed to $444.9 billion in 2012. That gives the Bayou City the fourth largest economy in the U.S., behind New York, Los Angles, and Chicago and ahead of Washington, Dallas-Ft. Worth and Philadelphia.
10 Largest U.S. Metro Economies – 2012
Rank Metro Area GDP


New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA



Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA



Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI



Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX



Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV



Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX



Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD



San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA



Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH



Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA


Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

Houston's economic might is even impressive in a global context. If Houston were to secede—which at times seems like a good idea—the nine-county region would have the world's 25th largest economy, behind Poland, Belgium and Argentina but ahead of Austria, South Africa and Venezuela.

Houston vs. Selected Global Economies – 2012

Nation GDP







Houston Metro Area




South Africa




Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and International Monetary Fund

And at the rate Houston's expanding—GDP grew 4.2 percent in 2011 and 5.3 percent in 2012—Houston should continue to move up the list of the world's largest economies.


Houston Facts

A few tidbits about Houston:
Those details come from Houston Facts, a 68-page compendium of data gathered by the Partnership's research team. As explained in the introduction to Houston Facts:

"The title says much about this publication and the organization that produced it. No spin. No frills. No hyperbole. Just page after page of straightforward information from more than 300 sources to answer questions most frequently asked about the Houston region."

The Partnership and its predecessor organization have published Houston Facts continuously since 1959. There's even an old version in the files by a different name dating to 1906. The format may have changed over the years, but the purpose of the document hasn't—present unvarnished information about Houston. Check it out. The publication can be accessed here. Old-fashioned hard copies can be purchased by calling 713-844-9366.

One last tidbit: Area code 346 will be added to the Houston region in July of next year. That nugget can be found on page 38 of Houston Facts.

Houston Facts


Half a Trillion Dollars

$566,032,297,306 to be exact.

That's the market value as of January 1, 2013 of all appraised property in the nine-county Houston metro area. The Houston metro includes Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery and Waller Counties.

That's not taxable value. Local jurisdictions offer a host of exemptions. If you're over 65, a veteran, or the property is your homestead (i.e., your full-time legal residence), you're entitled to an exemption. If you're a business and you have inventory destined for out-of-state buyers, you've installed pollution control equipment, or invested in wind or solar power, you qualify for exemptions. And certain non-profit agencies, entities and charities also qualify for exemptions. The list goes on.

After all the exemptions have been factored in, the actual taxable value of all properties in the nine-county metro area is $508,202,654,888.

If you divide that by the number of people who live in the Houston metro area—6,177,035 according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates—that equates to $82,272.91 in taxable property per person. This is another area where Houston nudges out Dallas-Ft. Worth. Dallas's $545,365,500,803 in taxable value equates to $81,385.80 per resident.

A breakdown of Houston property values by category follows.
Category Market Value % of Market Value
Single-Family Homes $256,846,938,257 45.4%
Multi-Family Homes 23,456,516,821 4.1%
Mobile Homes 853,385,370 0.2%
Real Inventory1 1,770,732,485 0.3%
Vacant Land 10,776,867,196 1.9%
Farm & Ranch Land 15,455,990,254 2.7%
Farm & Ranch Improvements 2,927,843,656 0.5%
Utilities 7,274,671,660 1.3%
Commercial Real Estate 83,572,145,253 14.8%
Industrial Real Estate 33,654,495,981 5.9%
Commercial Personal Property2 29,635,829,456 5.2%
Industrial Personal Property3 38,535,598,636 6.8%
Exempt Properties4 57,829,642,418 10.2%
Other 3,441,639,863 0.6%
Total Value 566,032,297,306 100.0%
Value After Exemptions $508,202,654,888 89.8%
1 Idle tracts of land in some stage of development but on which no homes or buildings have been constructed
2 Typically includes inventories, supplies, furniture, fixtures, equipment
3 Typically includes equipment used in the development, manufacturing, processing or storage of manufactured product, also trucks, watercraft, drilling rigs, etc.
4 Primarily, but not limited to, public (i.e., government) property, religious organizations, charitable organizations, and other property not reported elsewhere
Source: Property Tax Assistance Division, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
For additional info on how the Texas Comptroller classifies properties for tax purposes, click here.


Cheap Date Index

In July of last year, Forbes ranked Houston as the coolest city to live in America. The Greater Houston Partnership would like to call the magazine's attention to Houston's place in another top list. Houston is one of the best places for a cheap date in America. The Partnership has the data to prove it.

Three times a year, the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER)1 coordinates a survey of living costs in the nation's largest urban areas. The survey looks at nearly 60 items, ranging from the cost of a loaf of white bread to the price of a 2,400 square-foot-home in the suburbs. Researchers from more than 300 organizations gather data for their regions, submit the data to C2ER, which then analyzes the data to develop the C2ER Cost of Living Index. GHP's Research Department gathers the data on behalf of the Houston region. Our region always fares well in the survey, but that's the topic for another blog.

To create its "Cheap Date Index," GHP pulled data from the C2ER survey that approximates the cost of dinner, drinks and a movie—a 12-inch cheese pizza from Pizza Hut or Pizza Inn, a six pack of 12-ounce Heineken in bottles, two tickets to an evening movie, and two gallons of unleaded gasoline. Gasoline is included because the cost of picking up and dropping one's date has to be factored into the index. GHP analyzed the data and found Houston ranks fifth on its list of Best Places for a Cheap Date in America. That should be good news for Houstonian couples, young and old, married and single, dating or on a date-night, and who might be on a tight budget, or just cheap. The details follow.
25 Most Populous Metro Areas
Metro Average = 100.0
Rank METRO Cost of a
Cheap Date
Cheap Date Index
Metro Avg = 100
% above/Below
Metro Avg
- Average, Top 25 Metros $46.73 100.00 -
1 Phoenix, AZ $40.69 87.08 -12.92
2 Denver, CO $41.88 89.62 -10.38
3 Tampa, FL $42.39 90.72 -9.28
4 Dallas, TX $42.59 91.15 -8.85
5 Houston, TX $42.89 91.78 -8.22
6 Detroit, MI $42.95 91.91 -8.09
7 St. Louis, MO-IL $43.36 92.79 -7.21
8 Minneapolis, MN $43.81 93.75 -6.25
9 Riverside City, CA $44.02 94.21 -5.79
10 Baltimore, MD $44.14 94.47 -5.53
11 Pittsburgh, PA $44.64 95.54 -4.46
12 Miami, FL $44.76 95.79 -4.21
13 Charlotte, NC $45.22 96.77 -3.23
14 Portland, OR $45.30 96.94 -3.06
15 Atlanta, GA $45.43 97.22 -2.78
16 Boston, MA $46.15 98.77 -1.23
17 Philadelphia, PA $46.56 99.65 0.35
18 Washington, DC $46.76 100.08 0.08
19 San Diego, CA $47.82 102.34 2.34
20 San Antonio, TX $48.23 103.21 3.21
21 San Francisco, CA $48.44 103.66 3.66
22 Seattle, WA $49.62 106.19 6.19
23 Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA $50.10 107.22 7.22
24 New York (Brooklyn), NY $51.24 109.65 9.65
New York (Queens), NY $56.08 120.01 20.01
New York (Manhattan), NY $57.28 122.59 22.59
25 Chicago, IL $59.29 126.88 26.88

Source: Calculations by the Greater Houston Partnership Research Department based on data extracted from the Council for Community and Economic Research Cost of Living Index
1The Council for Community and Economic Research is an association for professionals engaged in economic, community and workforce development. The blog's author has recently completed a three-year term as a member of C2ER's Board of Directors.


It's not just about oil

The Houston metro area now ranks as the nation's leading export center, overtaking New York last year and ranking well ahead of Los Angeles, Detroit and Seattle. And yes, this is another competition where Houston handily beats Dallas. The International Trade Administration (ITA) is the one keeping score. The details follow.

Top Ten MSA Exporters by 2012 Merchandise Export Value
(In Billions of US Dollars)
Rank Metro Area '11 '12 '11–'12 $ Chg '11–'12 % Chg
1 Houston $104.5 $110.3 $5.8 5.6%
2 New York $105.1 $102.3 -$2.8 -2.7%
3 Los Angeles $72.7 $75.0 $2.3 3.2%
4 Detroit $49.4 $55.4 $6.0 12.1%
5 Seattle $41.1 $50.3 $9.2 22.3%
6 Miami $43.1 $47.9 $4.7 11.0%
7 Chicago $39.5 $40.6 $1.0 2.6%
8 Dallas-Ft Worth $26.6 $27.8 $1.2 4.4%
9 San Jose $26.7 $26.7 $0.0 -0.1%
10 Minneapolis $26.2 $25.2 -$1.0 -3.9%
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration
While the press cites the surge in oil exploration, specifically the activities associated with hydraulic fracking, as supporting Houston's strong economic performance, not enough attention is paid to Houston's role as an exporter. Over the last eight years, exports from Houston have grown by more than 164 percent, from $41.7 billion in 2005 to $110.3 billion last year. Exports from Houston are now at an all-time high.

According to a recent study by the Brookings Institute, exports now account for one in every seven dollars of Houston's gross domestic product. Using data from Brookings, GHP's research department estimates that exports support, either directly or indirectly, 340,000 Houston area jobs, or one in every eight jobs in the region.

It should surprise no one what our major exports are—petroleum products, chemicals, industrial machinery, computers, oil extraction services—all core segments of our economic base.

The North American Free Trade Agreement is having an impact on exports. U.S. metro area exports to Mexico increased 9.1 percent between 2011 and 2012. Exports to the rest of the world grew only 4.3 percent. Mexico is also Houston's top export destination. Houston shipped $17.2 billion in goods and merchandise to Mexico last year, accounting for 15.6 percent of total exports.

It is too early to estimate the long-term impact that the trade agreements recently signed with Panama and Colombia will have on trade. The agreements with Panama and Colombia were ratified by the U.S. in October 2011. But the early results are impressive. Houston's trade with Panama grew from $784 million in 2011 to $1.784 billion in 2012. Houston's trade with Colombia grew from $2.873 billion in 2011 to $3.836 billion in 2012.

This suggests that Houston will benefit significantly from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, i.e. free trade with Europe, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, i.e. free trade with Asia that the U.S. is currently negotiating.

To read the International Trade Administration's full report, click here.


Celebrating a Summer Splashdown

Today marks a milestone in Houston's history. On July 24, 1969, the Apollo 11 Command Module splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. Most historians cite July 20, 1969, the date man first walked on the moon, as the more significant milestone. But when President John F. Kennedy addressed a joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961, he framed the challenge as, ". . . landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth."

So the mission wasn't accomplished until Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins splashed down in the Pacific Ocean and were safely on the deck of the U.S.S. Hornet three days after departing from the moon. In honor of the successful completion of the Apollo 11 mission, this blog entry shares a few facts about Houston and the Johnson Space Center, then and now.

Then: 1,236 accredited news media representatives from 42 countries covered the Apollo 11 moon landing at the Manned Spacecraft Center.
Now: Approximately 600 U.S. and foreign journalists visit the center each year.

Then: The 1,620 acre complex was known as the Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC).
Now: The MSC was renamed the Johnson Space Center in 1973 to honor the late president and Texas native, Lyndon B. Johnson.

Then: NASA's budget was $4.2 billion, or about 2.3 percent of federal spending, in 1969. Adjusted for inflation, that's equivalent to $26.7 billion today.
Now: For fiscal '14, NASA's proposed budget is $17.8 billion, or about 0.5 percent of federal spending.

Then: Total employment in the Houston metro area was 853,900 at the time of Apollo 11 launch.
Now: Total employment in metro Houston now exceeds 2.8 million.

Then: In 1969, metro Houston, with 1.9 million residents, ranked thirteenth in population.
Now: In 2012, metro Houston, with 6.2 million residents, ranked fifth in population.

Then: Thirty-two astronauts were part of the Apollo program.
Now: Today, approximately 110 astronauts now train at JSC.

Then: During the Apollo 11 mission, the MSC had 4,383 full-time civil service personnel, 2,463 of which were engineers, scientists, and medical personnel. Another 9,000 employees of support contractors worked at the MSC and in the Clear Lake area.
Now: Today, the JSC employs 3,000 civil servants, many of which are engineers and scientists. Contactors employ another 12,000 in nearby office buildings and other facilities.

Then: The Apollo 11 mission lasted eight days.
Now: The International Space Station (ISS) has been continuously occupied since November 2, 2000.

Then: Twenty-four of the Apollo astronauts flew in space.
Now: Since 2010, 204 individuals have visited the International Space Station.

Then: "Houston" was the first word spoken from the moon. When the lunar lander touched the moon's surface, Neil Armstrong radioed back: "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."
Now: Every communication initiated from the ISS to mission control begins with "Houston."

To learn more about the Johnson Space Center, go to the website


No Shame in Second Place

Houston has the second highest concentration of engineers (22.4 for every 1,000 workers) and the second largest population of engineers (59,070) in the United States.

Who has the largest engineering population?

Los Angeles—a metro area with double Houston's employment base—ranks first with 70,182 engineers. However, the City of Angels ranked 33rd in concentration.

Who has the highest concentration of engineers?

San Jose—the capital of Silicon Valley—ranks first with 45.0 engineers for every 1,000 workers.

Given the competition, second place is not too shabby.

The Greater Houston Partnership reviewed engineering populations in all U.S. metro areas with 250,000 or more workers to determine the rankings. A list of those metros can be found here. The data comes from the Occupational Employment Statistics series developed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The bureau estimated the number of aerospace, agricultural, biomedical, chemical, civil, computer, electrical, electronics, environmental, health and safety, industrial, marine, material, mechanical, mining, nuclear, petroleum and miscellaneous engineers working in each metro area as of May '12.
TOP 20 U.S. ENGINEERING CENTERS Ranked by Concentration of Engineering Occupations
Rank Metro Area Total Engineers Engineers per 1,000 Employees
1 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 40,400 45.0
2 Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX 59,070 22.4
3 Wichita, KS 5,870 20.9
4 Dayton, OH 7,650 20.8
5 San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA 25,490 20.2
6 Greenville-Mauldin-Easley, SC 5,710 19.1
7 Albuquerque, NM 6,810 18.7
8 Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH 43,340 17.5
9 Bakersfield-Delano, CA 4,680 17.1
10 Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO 20,910 17.0
11 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 49,200 16.9
12 Detroit-Warren-Livonia, MI 29,540 16.7
13 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 26,920 16.2
14 Baton Rouge, LA 5,750 15.9
15 Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA NECTA Division 27,170 15.9
16 Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT 8,760 15.9
17 Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville, SC 4,620 15.8
18 San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA 30,040 15.2
19 Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX 12,320 15.2
20 Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC 10,830 15.1
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics

Special thanks to GHP Research Intern Aldo Frosinini for his assistance with the analysis.


Barely Above Minimum Wage

In a follow up to last week's blog post, the 25 worst paid occupations in the Houston are listed below. To screen out the oddball occupations at which few people actually work (e.g. kiln tenders, freezing equipment operators, motion picture projectionists, etc.) only occupations with 1,000 or more employees are included in the list.

To put the wages below in perspective, a Houstonian working 2,200 hours a year (52 weeks, 40 hours a week, no vacation) and paid the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour would earn $15,950 year. To see a list of the best paid occupations in Houston, go to last week's blog post.

The 25 Worst Paid Occupations in Metro Houston

Occupation How many Houstonians hold this job? Average Annual Salary - $




Food Concession Counter Attendants






Ushers, Lobby Attendants, and Ticket Takers



Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners



Fast Food Cooks



Dining Room Attendants and Bartender Helpers



Childcare Workers



Food Preparation Workers



Hotel, Motel, and Resort Desk Clerks



Restaurant Hosts and Hostesses



Textile and Garment Pressers



Amusement and Recreation Room Attendants



Laundry and Dry-Cleaning Workers






Hospital and Residential Care Food Servers



Parking Lot Attendants






Waiters and Waitresses



Restaurant Cooks






Residential Advisors (Dorms and Group Homes)



Medical Orderlies



Teacher Assistants



Short Order Cooks



Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics

If you need to know more about various occupations, you can do so by clicking here.


Wish I Knew This Before Declaring a Major

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates wages for more than 800 occupations in all 375 U.S. metro areas. A little data crunching and a picture emerges of the 25 best paid occupations in Houston.

The 25 Best Paid Occupations in Metro Houston


How many Houstonians hold this job?

Average Annual Salary - $




Chief Executives



Obstetricians and Gynecologists









Family and General Practitioners






Architectural and Engineering Managers



Nurse Anesthetists



Physicians and Surgeons















Natural Sciences Managers



Petroleum Engineers



Computer and Information Systems Managers



Marketing Managers



Financial Managers






Public Relations and Fundraising Managers



Mining and Geological Engineers



Chemical Engineers



Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers



Industrial Production Managers



UNK = Unknown

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics

Should be no surprise that the best paid jobs are highly skilled, require years of training, and embody signficant levels of responsibility. The table includes wages as of May '12. Data for May '13 will be available this time next year. If you need to know more about various occupations, you can do so by clicking here.

Watch the next blog post for the 25 worst paid occupations in Houston.


One Boiled Egg Equals One New Job

Though Houston's job growth has slowed in recent months, the region still beats the pants off just about every other U.S. metro area. Between May '12 and May '13, the 10-county metro area created 91,600 net new jobs. That equates to 10.5 net new jobs every hour over the past 12 months. In other words, it took less than six minutes—about the time it takes to boil an egg—for Houston to create one new job.

How do other metros compare? Only two other metros—New York and Dallas—both with larger populations than Houston, created jobs at a faster rate. The jobs-per-hour rate for the nation's 20 most populous metro areas follows.
20 Most Populous U.S. Metro Areas
Metropolitan Area Total Jobs Created Jobs Created Per Hour*

New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA



Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX



Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX



Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA



Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI



Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH



Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV



Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA



Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, AZ



Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI



San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA



Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL



Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA



Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL



Baltimore-Towson, MD



Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD



San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA



Detroit-Warren-Livonia, MI



Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA



St. Louis, MO-IL



* Rate has been rounded to the nearest tenth of a minute
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics and Greater Houston Partnership Calculations


Houstonians are More Confident than the Rest of the Nation

CNN released today the results of a nationwide poll conducted June 11-13 on Americans' views of the U.S. economy. The results:
Recent consumer behavior seems to support the pollster's findings. Nationally, auto makers are on pace to sell 15.2 million autos and light-duty trucks this year, up from 10.4 million in '09, while builders are on pace to complete more than 900,000 single-family homes this year, up from 554,000 in '09. U.S. consumers are growing more confident they will be able to make mortgage payments and pay car notes in the future and are willing to take on the debt.

The 32nd Kinder Institute Houston Area Survey conducted this past spring asked a set of similar questions of local residents. In that survey, 51 percent of the respondents believe they will financially be "better off" three or four years down the road and 58 percent rated job opportunities in Houston as "excellent" or "good."

Local consumer behavior bears this out. Houston-area realtors are on pace to sell more than 82,000 homes this year, up from 63,800 sold in '09, the bottom of the local housing recession. The metro area's auto dealers are on pace to sell more than 330,000 cars and trucks, up from 218,700 in '09, the bottom of the local auto recession. And the region has created more than 300,000 jobs since January '10, the bottom of the recession.

Bottom line: When comparing the CNN poll with the Kinder Survey, one thing jumps out—Houstonians strongly believe they are better off and their prospects are brighter than their American counterparts.


Oil Imports and Jobs

Houston PortTrade data for the first four months of the year are now available. A quick look at Houston's numbers revealed an interesting trend—imports are down by almost a fourth compared to last year. What's causing this shift toward a more favorable balance of payments?

Answer: A drop in oil imports by almost a third. This time last year, more than $32.0 billion in crude and refined products entered the United States via the Houston-Galveston Customs District. So far this year, that number has dropped to $21.5 billion. The scenario is playing out at customs districts across the nation. U.S. oil imports, measured in dollars, are down 15.5 percent compared to last year. A slight drop in crude prices has aided the decline. U.S. refiners were paying $108 per barrel of imported crude last April compared to $95 this April. But a sheer drop in the volume of imported oil has played a bigger role. The U.S. imported almost ten million fewer tons of oil and refined products in the first fourth months of 2013 than in 2012.

Bottom line: the current boom in places like the Eagle Ford in Texas and the Bakken in North Dakota are not just jobs generators, they're helping reduce the U.S. trade deficit as well.


An Introduction

Thirty-two years ago, almost to the day, I wrote my first article about Houston's economy. The article appeared in Houston Magazine, the aptly named publication of the Houston Chamber of Commerce, GHP's predecessor. The article's title: The Glamour of Publishing – "Or it seemed like a good idea at the time." The quote came from Bob Gray, the founder of the Houston Business Journal. Thirty-two years ago HBJ was the only publication of its kind in the U.S.

Much has changed since then. Nearly three million more people live here. One million more work here. Several of the publications featured in the article—a few for which I once wrote—have folded. HBJ is now one of dozens of business journals published in cities around the nation. And the web has replaced the paper as most people's primary source for news and information.

One thing hasn't changed—my affection for this city. I was born and raised here. My boyhood home was one block from the intersection of Fulton and 610. My family moved to Sharpstown in its heyday. My buddies and I hunted rabbits in the fields where Dun Huang Plaza now stands. Except for my years away at college, I have lived here all my life. For most of the past three decades I have worked to promote the region, first as a writer, then as an economic developer, and now as economist with GHP. I've watched the region grow, and with it my understanding of why Houston is "a great place to live, work and do business" has grown.

Those aren't my words; they belong to Louie Welch, my first boss at the Chamber. Those words ring as true now as they did three decades ago.

With the launching of this blog, I hope to share some of the insights I have gathered over more than 30 years of studying Houston's economy. The blog will also provide data updates, economic analysis, and local commentaries. My goal—to help you understand the forces driving Houston's economy so you can make better-informed decisions.

The article that I wrote 32 years ago ended with a quote from the Joe Murphy, publisher of Houston City Magazine. Back then, most magazines failed within a year, many after just one issue.

With such a high failure rate, why take the risk?

Murphy replied: "It (publishing) is probably the last bastion of unrestrained capitalism."

After 32 years of studying the local economy, I realize the same can be said about Houston.

Welcome to the GHP Research Blog.

The Greater Houston Partnership Salutes Our Executive Partners