If you live in Houston, you’re in the best place in America to find a job.
The city ranks No. 1 out of the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas for job growth and job creation, according to a 2014 Gallup Economy survey. The reasons are many: low taxes, fewer regulations, a diverse economy and rapidly growing oil and gas industry.
Houston has created 2.5 jobs for every job lost during the recession, which bottomed out in January 2010, says Patrick Jankowski, vice president of research for the Greater Houston Partnership, a business organization that represents 10 counties and one-fifth of the region’s workforce.
“Houston has experienced a phenomenal rate of job growth,” Jankowski says. “We are extremely resilient.”
According to the Gallup poll, 44 percent of Houston workers say their companies were expanding from 2012 to 2013, compared with 12 percent who say their employers were laying people off. Houston’s unemployment rate is also 5.2 percent, well below the national average of 6.3 percent.
The strongest sector is the oil and gas industry, which has created 318,000 jobs since 2010, Jankowski says. And these energy positions support four to five jobs in the rest of Houston’s economy, including related fields like equipment and materials, as well as retail vendors, he adds.
Many energy jobs, such as engineering, also produce higher salaries because they are highly skilled. Houston is expected to add 69,800 jobs in 2014, including many skilled positions, an increase of 2.5 percent from last year, Jankowski says.
Other industries are thriving, as well. Manufacturing is at an all-time high, generating 40,900 jobs since the bottom of the recession, Jankowski says. The companies range from the makers of ice chests to oilfield equipment to commodities such as bread and plastic, he adds.
The healthcare industry is also a major employer, adding 15,000 jobs during the past two years after having no layoffs during the recession, Jankowski says.
“It is a strong sector and remains pretty stable since the medical center is the largest concentration of medical facilities in the world with 54 institutions, including 17 hospitals,” Jankowski says, referring to the Texas Medical Center in Houston.
There are still some weak sectors. Department stores and the finance and air-transportation industries are not experiencing as much growth because of the proliferation of online shopping, airlines restructuring and new finance laws, Jankowski says. Even so, Houston remains a vibrant economy.
“We are still an incredible job generator, and almost no other metro area is creating jobs at the rate we are,” Jankowski says. “Houston is more part of the global economy. With the limited regulation imposed on employers, companies have more flexibility to respond to changes in the market and be more versatile.”
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