Houston's 2009 economic outlook

January 9, 2009 5:39:40 PM PST
We got a better idea Friday about the toll the recession is taking on jobs as it pushed the nation's unemployment rate to its highest point since 1993. [CHECK THE MARKETS: Get the latest numbers from Wall Street]
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The rate jumped to 7.2 percent in December. That's from 6.7 percent in November. Around 524,000 jobs were lost last month. For all of 2008, the economy lost 2.6 million jobs and we've seen many effects of the recession here in Houston as major companies continue to announce layoffs.

But despite some industries beginning to lay off here in southeast Texas, the unemployment rate remains at 5.5 percent, which is well below the national average.

If you look at retailers or the low price of gas alone, you might think the economy in Houston is poor, that we're suffering. But remember, it's all relative.

"There will be jobs created in 2009," said Patrick Jankowski with the Greater Houston Partnership. "There will be companies that will be hiring. There will be segments within industries that will be growing. Unfortunately, they won't be hiring than they're laying off elsewhere."

Jankowski's job is to look at how many others have jobs. And while he believes that Houston will lose another 45,000 jobs in 2009, he says we're still faring well.

"Think of it as the eye of the hurricane is passing over some metropolitan areas. We're just on the fringes of it," he said. "We're going to get the blustery weather. We'll get the rain. We'll get some power disruptions, but we won't be devastated the way other economies are struggling."

And while the low price of oil doesn't help Houston, Jankowski says our economy now isn't like it was in the 1980s. Then, we lost one out of every seven jobs. Today, the number is one out of 70. And most will come out of retail, manufacturing and construction.

"2009 will be a challenge for Houston, but it won't be an overwhelming challenge for Houston."

We're still waiting for numbers for the end of 2008, but between November of 2007 and November of last year, Houston was number one in the country for job creation. And even though we may lose some jobs in 2009, we'll still fare better than most of the country.

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