Houston, the energy capital of the world, is being fueled by a gusher of good news about economic and population growth.
From a macro perspective, the Houston metro area added 108,300 jobs in 2018, representing the fourth largest numeric gain on record, according to the Greater Houston Partnership. In tandem with that job growth, the region’s unemployment rate dropped to a near-decade low of 3.9 percent in December 2018. According to one projection, the job growth rate from 2018 to 2019 will be 3.5 percent.
“The near-term forecast points to continued economic growth,” the Institute of Supply Management said in February 2019.
The Houston area also is performing well on the population front.
In 2018, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the Houston area picked up the second highest number of residents (94,417) of any U.S. metro area from 2016 to 2017. On a percentage basis, the area’s population increased by nearly 1.4 percent during that period. One forecast indicates the Houston area’s population growth rate from 2018 to 2019 will be 1.8 percent.
“This city is open for business,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner declared in 2018.
Here are 12 indicators that the entire Houston area is open for business.
1. Small business success
Personal finance website GOBankingRates.com ranked Houston eighth on its list of the 20 U.S. cities where small business owners are thriving. GOBankingRates.com noted that the city boasts a solid ratio of 92.6 startups for every 1,000 businesses.
“The largest city in Texas is actively trying to increase its startup population to diversify its economy,” GOBankingRates.com said.
2. Fast-growing companies
In 2018, Houston ranked eighth among U.S. cities that landed the most fast-growing companies on Inc. magazine’s annual Inc. 5000 list.
3. Popular destination
In a sign that Houston is a desirable place to do business, Penske Truck Rental put Houston at No. 6 on its list of the top moving destinations for 2018. Houston was ahead of Austin in the top 10, while Dallas-Fort Worth didn’t make the cut.
4. Retail and hospitality boom
In its 2019 construction outlook, commercial real estate services company JLL ranked Houston as the No. 1 market in the U.S. for the amount of retail space under construction and the No. 5 market for the amount of hospitality space under construction. Both of these rankings underscore the health of Houston’s economy.
5. Millennial magnet
From 2012 to 2017, the Houston area attracted more millennials (25- to 34-year-olds) than any other major metro area in the U.S., according to the Brookings Institution. The think tank’s analysis of census data shows the Houston area notched average annual net migration of 14,767 young adults during that period. Houston’s status as a millennial magnet highlights its vibrancy as a great place to live and work.
6. Friendly environment for attorneys
Based on job and cost-of-living data, self-storage marketplace SpareFoot ranked Houston as the country’s No. 2 city for attorneys.
7. Supportive place for minority entrepreneurs
8. Corporate relocation heavyweight
Houston reigns as the No. 2 metro area in the U.S. for corporate relocations and expansions, according to Site Selection magazine. In 2017, the Houston welcomed 196 new and expanded corporate facilities.
“Houston is the most diverse city in the U.S. and companies thrive in our region. We are powered by a highly skilled and well-trained talent base that enjoys an excellent quality of life. All these factors, coupled with a low-cost of doing business, offer global companies vast opportunities for growth and investment,” said Bob Harvey, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership.
9. Business-friendly suburbs
Four Houston suburbs — Deer Park, Texas City, Baytown and La Porte — rank among the country’s top 25 cities with the best business environment for small businesses, according to personal finance website WalletHub.
10. Hub for big business
The Houston area offers a robust big-business landscape. Twenty-one companies with headquarters in the region appeared in 2018 on the Fortune 500 list of the country’s biggest companies.
11. Center for healthcare
Houston’s Texas Medical Center is the biggest medical complex in the world, giving the region a foothold in one of the country’s fastest-growing industries. The center has spawned a large number of healthcare startups. In all, Houston is home to nearly 1,800 life sciences companies, biotech companies, hospitals, healthcare facilities and medical research institutions.
12. Promising future
Houston led Business Facilities magazine’s 2018 ranking of the U.S. metro areas with the most potential for economic growth.
“If the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Houston is the space program, it’s time to take another look,” said Jack Rogers, the magazine’s editor in chief. “The nation’s fourth largest city has a dynamic, diversified economy that is brimming with innovation, technology and entrepreneurship.”
The magazine noted that the Houston area has evolved into a world-class hub for tech startups. The region is home to more than 140 high-growth tech startups with total venture capital of $1.3 billion.