News & Articles

Posts from February 2013

Houston still hot, but other cities catching up

Posted on February 12, 2013 in

By L.M. Sixel

When it came to creating new jobs, Houston has been the shining star for four of the past five years. But an improving U.S. economy has given the city some competition for those bragging rights.

Phoenix is nipping at our heels, and Seattle and San Francisco aren’t far behind.

“We’re settling into the new norm, the new sustainable,” said Patrick Jankowski, vice president of research for the Greater Houston Partnership.

“While other economies are in the recovery mode, we’re in the expansion mode,” he said. “They’re still trying to climb out of that trough.”

Over the past year - from December 2011 to December 2012, according to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data - Houston-area employers added 82,000 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis. That represents a year-over-year gain of 3.1 percent.

Much of that increase stems from a surge in oil and gas exploration and production activity that, in turn, helped jump-start key secondary sectors such as construction, retail and restaurants.

Phoenix added fewer jobs - 51,600 during that same 12-month period - but that represented a 3 percent increase, the bureau reported. San Francisco and Seattle each added jobs at the annual rate of 2.7 percent while Dallas-Fort Worth rounded out the top five at 2.5 percent.

The national average for the same 12-month period was 1.6 percent.

Phoenix, San Francisco and Seattle all benefitted from a rebound in real estate, technology and manufacturing.

Remaining on top

Their gains do not mean Houston has lost its edge.

Houston is dominant, not only in the United States but in Texas, said Bill Gilmer, director of the Institute of Regional Forecasting at the C.T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston. Houston is leading not just in job creation, he said, but also in such other important factors as inflation-adjusted wages and retail sales.

“Phoenix, Seattle and San Francisco are Johnny-come-latelies,” he said. “They’ll have to repeat this a couple of times to catch up to Houston.”

When a city has a really deep downturn - such as Phoenix, which suffered heavily when the real-estate bubble burst - it can grow quickly once things begin to turn around, Gilmer said.

Houston went into the recession later than the other cities, yet came out sooner than the rest, said Cheryl Abbot, regional economist with the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Dallas. But during its downturn, Houston suffered mightily, losing 4 percent of its jobs in 2009.

Even a state that had been growing as robustly as Texas couldn’t withstand the pressure from mounting job losses nationally that dragged on well into the second half of 2010, Abbot said.

But by July 2011, Houston had regained all of the jobs it lost during the recession, Gilmer said. Since that time, Houston has been adding jobs at a rate that makes other cities envious.

The gains are likely to be even more robust once the Texas Workforce Commission compares its monthly estimates of job gains and losses with the actual payroll tax records from employers, said Gilmer, whose back-of-the-envelope calculation, using data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, puts the actual job gains for Houston in 2012 at close to 100,000.

“That would be a blockbuster year for sure,” he said.

Data coming soon

The official data will be released in early March for Houston and later in the month for the other major metropolitan areas.

While it may be hard for Houstonians to think some cities may be catching up, it’s better for Houston to be surrounded by a sea of prosperity.

“It’s important for the rest of the metro areas to catch up with Houston, Jankowski said. “We don’t want to sit around and smirk.”

Project at I-10 and Yale

Posted on February 07, 2013 in

By Nancy Sarnoff

A specialty grocer, fitness center and music store are planning to open in a shopping center slated for the southwest corner of Interstate 10 and Yale just outside the Heights.

An affiliate of Ponderosa Land Development Co. expects to break ground within the next two months on a 115,000-square-foot shopping center on the 8-acre site. The developer recently purchased the land from San Jacinto Stone Co., which operates a large stone yard on the property. The company, which was founded in downtown Houston in 1947, is closing this month.

Fox & Graham brokered the transaction for the seller.

Developers took serious interest in the land around I-10 and Yale when the state made the corner accessible to drivers through an exit ramp off the freeway.

Wal-Mart Stores and other national retail chains have opened locations in the area.

David Stukalin of the Retail Connection will handle leasing for the new shopping center. He would not reveal tenant names but said leases are signed or in the works for a 45,000-square-foot fitness center, a 28,000-square-foot specialty grocer and a 16,000-square-foot specialty music store.