Area gains jobs, but figures ahead are a big concern

Will oil prices affect Houston’s job growth? In 2014, 120,600 new jobs where created. This article quotes an estimate of 40,000 for 2015.

Over the past year, local employers added 120,600 positions, but that was before oil prices hit the skids
By L.M. Sixel

 

   The Houston area closed out 2014 strongly as local employers created 120,600 new jobs over the past year.   

But in many ways that is yesterday’s news as economic observers are more nervously focused on the months ahead, waiting to see the ramifications of energy companies axing jobs and trimming hiring of college graduates.   

“2015 will be a year of significantly less growth,” said Barton Smith, professor emeritus of economics at the University of Houston.   

“I will tell you there are a lot of people who are quite worried about a repeat of the early 1980s,” he added, referring to the years when the local economy was in tatters because of low oil prices and excess real estate.    While Smith, and others, still don’t foresee a similar crash — in part because office and residential real estate isn’t overbuilt as it was in the 1980s — he predicted Houston will surely lose energy jobs this year. He is still gathering data for estimates but said he believed energy-related losses will be in the neighborhood of 40,000 jobs, which include exploration and production as well as energy-related durable goods manufacturing and wholesale trade.    The picture, though, isn’t all bad, as other sectors are expected to keep adding jobs to keep up with Houston’s increase in population. That includes health care, education and retail, which have lagged and are working to catch up to local growth.

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