Houston job forecast looks bright despite pandemic

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As the nation's economy struggles to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Houston's job forecast for 2021 looks to be bright, according to one economic development group.

There are between 35,000 and 52,000 new jobs available now in the Houston region, according to estimates from the Greater Houston Partnership.

Experts with the economic development organization said more jobs should come as the area recovers from the pandemic, the devastating shutdowns that led to job losses and business closures.

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Despite the promising forecast, there are some dim spots in the report for the retail and energy sectors. Energy-related jobs are expected to stay flat or lose ground, and retail is expected to shed as many as 3,000 jobs in the coming year.

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The construction, manufacturing and transportation sectors are expected to make gains in 2021. Professional, scientific, administrative support and technical service jobs are forecast to remain strong, with up to 14,000 new hires possible.

The largest gains in the coming year could happen in the health sector with up to 7,000 new jobs. The service industry could also add another 4,000 to 5,000 jobs in bars and restaurants, according to the Greater Houston Partnership. Much of the gains are related to where we are with the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Right now, the COVID vaccine controls everything in the economy," said Patrick Jankowski with the Greater Houston Partnership. "It is what shut us down, and it is what is slowing our recovery. It affects people's behavior. You can look at the surveys. People are reluctant to go to restaurants, they are reluctant to go to the store or the mall, and that puts people feeling ill at ease, and that is one reason why we need the vaccine."

The team at the Greater Houston Partnership said the virus has "dealt this region a significant blow, and the reality is it will take many months, if not years, to regain the jobs lost and repair the damage."

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