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The most recent jobs report shows that Houston leads the nation in job creation, with over 118,000 jobs year on year. For purposes of this article, all statistics rely on “The Economy at a Glance – Houston,” published by the Greater Houston Partnership, Volume 22, No. 4, April 2013. The document summarizes economics and demographic trends, and relies on reports of the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Office of Management and the Budget.
The opening paragraph states: “The Houston metro area continues to set the pace for job growth in the nation, recording a 4.5 percent increase in employment from February ’12 to February ’13, according to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That’s three times the pace of job growth for the nation as a whole and faster than any other major metro.”
Houston’s popular mayor Annise Parker, now in the second year of her second term of office, explains why Houston has taken the lead. At the press conference following the April 10th City Council meeting, she stated, “Houston has the hottest local economy in the United States. It’s a wonderful situation to be in. Part of that is deliberate business-friendly policies, active recruitment of businesses to relocate in Houston and providing the services to make sure they do, and the underlying strength of the major sectors here. That combination of things is what has sustained the Houston economy.”
In fact, the day before and the days following that statement, Mayor Parker held press conferences announcing major projects affecting the region. On Tuesday, Mayor Parker, along with Houston First and RIDA, announced milestones accomplished in plans for a new Marriott Marquis Hotel near the George R. Brown Convention Center, along with a new 1,800-spot garage that will be built by the city. Ground breaking is planned for 2014. A half-hour after making that announcement, Mayor Parker went to the Metro Rail Main Street station to celebrate the 100 millionth passenger mile of the Metro light rail line. On Thursday, Mayor Parker announced that funding was in place to complete a new line that will extend toward the Energy Corridor along Memorial Drive.
The Mayor’s reference to “underlying strength in the major sectors” was consistent with the monthly report. Nine major sectors showed strong growth: architectural and engineering, government, manufacturing, mining and logging, leisure and hospitality, financial activities, employment services, wholesale trade, and real estate. Three sectors showed a surprising decline: construction, health care services and retail trade. However, in the construction industry, a growing number of workers have been reclassified as independent contractors rather than employees.
Marc Pembroke is a freelance writer covering all things Houston. His work can be found on Examiner.com.