Despite industry downturn, Houston, Texas thrives

Global Business

Despite industry downturn, Houston, Texas thrives

The recent slump in global oil prices has hit the world’s biggest energy companies and oil dependent countries hard. Though it has somewhat rallied, some said it may take a while before it fully recovers. Houston, Texas should have been hit hard, since its economy used to be heavily dependent on crude – however, the city is taking the slump in stride and actually thriving. 

CCTV America’s Steve Mort reports. Follow Steve Mort on Twitter @mobilemort

Despite industry downturn, Houston, Texas thrives

Despite industry downturn, Houston, Texas thrives

Houston's rapid growth in neighborhoods comes at a tough time for the oil industry. Experts attribute the expansion to a diversifying economy. CCTV America's Steve Mort reports.

Dana Abramovitz moved to Houston a few weeks ago from San Francisco, California to take a job in the medical field. The low cost of living and booming medical industry attracted Abramovitz.

“The economy is shifting a little bit from the oil industry, the medical field is just growing enormously,” Abramovitz said.

The medical industry is just one sector helping drive Houston’s population rise.

The region grew by nearly 160,000 people last year, making it America’s fastest growing metropolitan area.

Houston’s rapid growth in neighborhoods comes at a tough time for the oil industry. Experts attribute the expansion to a diversifying economy.

Houston lost 18,000 oil sector job in 2015, overall, the region added 15,000 jobs, thanks largely to growth in construction, healthcare and hospitality.

Houston’s port is also experiencing record traffic, as petrochemical production soars due to cheap oil and gas.

“I remember 40 years ago when gas and oil markets dropped we really had difficulties,” Steve Murdock, professor at Rice University, said. “We are more diversified, that gives us more resilience than was true decades ago.”

Signs of diversification can also be found in Houston’s startup community.

“Several years ago there was almost no startup scene,” John Goodman, Poetic Systems, said.

But Goodman remains cautious. He believed Houston’s economy is still inextricably tied to the fortunes of the energy industry, and many of his clients benefit from oil money investment.

“The oil and gas thing — people feel it,” Goodman said. “You can see how a lot of development in our space gets affected by oil and gas money.”

Goodman said he predicts that having avoided an energy-driven economic crisis, Houston businesses like Poetic will be in a strong position to compete when the oil price rebounds.