Economy booming in Houston

April 7, 2008 5:16:41 PM PDT
Every day, it seems we get more bad news about the economy. Unemployment is up, the dollar is down. Gasoline prices are higher. Job opportunities are less. But the opposite is the case in our area. All over the country, you hear tales of despair. But here in Houston, the economy is still booming. And whether you are talking about construction or engineering or oil and gas, the jobs are there and they pay well.

That might actually be understating it.

"When you think of the weatherman saying we've had a chamber of commerce day, well, what we've had recently is chamber of commerce year," said Joel Wagher with the Worksource.

The latest numbers, in fact, show Houston adding 80,000 jobs between February 2007 and February 2008. While cities like Los Angeles are down 37,000 jobs or Detroit, which has lost 42,000...

"Not only have we put on more jobs than any other metropolitan area, but we've also put on more jobs than any other state, other than our home state of Texas," said Wagher.

Christopher White is looking for work.

"It's good," he said. "Houston seems like there's a lot of opportunities here. But at the same time, it's trying to get your foot in the door and try to find somebody that you know to actually get in the door."

He's about to graduate from Rice with a degree in architecture, an industry not unlike construction, engineering, or healthcare where there are still jobs to be had.

"Right now, the job market is looking great for just about everybody," said Melanie McConnell with Rice University career services.

McConnell helps Rice students like Chris find work.

"We find that a lot of the oil and gas companies are really searching for people," she said. "And a lot of the companies are doing a lot as well."

The market here seems to be good for workers almost without regard to their discipline.

Marsha Murray runs a local staffing and placement firm. And her company found in a recent survey not only are people hiring, but salaries are climbing.

"So with energy strong, construction strong, manufacturing strong in Houston, there is a demand for this top talent," she said.

How long will it last? How long will Houston remain ahead of the economic curve? There's no telling, obviously. But Christopher White is banking on the hope that it's long enough for him to find a job.

"I feel like for another year or two, there are some good strong jobs out there," he said. "After that, I'm not so sure."

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