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Bayou Business Download: What Will a Biden Administration Mean for Houston?

Published Nov 13, 2020 by A.J. Mistretta

Texas Medical Center in Houston

In this episode of Bayou Business Download we consider what the administration of President-Elect Joe Biden might mean for Houston on a number of fronts, from foreign trade to the energy industry. We also provide an update on the economic impact of the coronavirus. 

We're joined by Partnership Senior Vice President of Research Patrick Jankowski. 

Key topics include: 

  • A look at the latest global and global, national and local statistics on the coronavirus.

  • How the administration of President-elect Biden may impact the trajectory of the Houston economy. 

  • What the Q4 GDP might look like at the national level after an impressive Q3 showing.

  • What recent consumer behavior surveys tell us about how the public's reaction to COVID-19 has changed. 

  • The U.S. jobs recovery and how Houston is likely to end the year. 

See the latest indicators on the local economy from Partnership Research. 


Bayou Business Download is presented by: 


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Texas Led Nation in Economic Development Wins in 2020, According to Site Selection

Texas continues to dominate the nation when it comes to total economic development project wins, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lone Star State took the top spot for the ninth year in a row on Site Selection Magazine’s list of best performing states for economic development by total number of projects. That’s earned Texas the publication’s Governor’s Cup award once again.  Texas logged 781 projects in 2020, down from 859 qualifying projects the year before but still more than any other state as the U.S. grappled with the effects of the pandemic.  Ohio took the top spot on Site Selection’s list of most projects per capita.  According to Site Selection: “Both Ohio and Texas have diverse economies, as do the other high-ranking states, so that was a factor in their capital investment success. All states benefited from a strong national economy heading into 2020 — until COVID-19 slammed the brakes on their momentum. Economic development agendas turned to business recovery and assistance, and suddenly governors were seen leading daily pandemic updates and determining to what extent they would remain open for business.”  Texas Governor Greg Abbott told the magazine that all metrics are now moving in the right direction in terms of the state’s economic recovery. The Governor pointed to the drop in new cases and hospitalizations as well as other positive indicators. “We undertook a number of measures that were focused on trying to maximize businesses being allowed to remain open and operate safely and to minimize any type of shutdown,” Abbott told Site Selection, “and find the right blend of that and maximum public safety. We focused on keeping businesses open as much as possible and providing them the guidance and the tools, meaning we were able to surge testing supplies through chambers of commerce to help businesses be able to test employees, for example.”  Abbott said businesses use challenging periods like this one as an opportunity to chart their paths forward. “That’s something we saw from the phone calls we got during the course of the pandemic this past year — businesses wanting to either come to Texas or grow in Texas and using this time as an opportunity to do those expansions. What they see in Texas is extremely promising, and I believe our economy will be booming the latter part of this year and next year.” Houston specifically had a strong year in economic development, as well. In November, Hewlett Packard Enterprise announced plans to move its headquarters from California to North Harris County, giving the region yet another Fortune 500 company. A month later, Axiom Space said it would build the world's first commercial space station at the Houston Spaceport at Ellington Airport. That project is expected to bring 1,000 jobs to the area. Greentown Labs, Amazon and Google Inc. all announced projects earlier in the year. View other significant economic development projects in this region here.    Learn more about Site Selection's Governor's Cup lists and the publication's methodology and discover why companies across the country and around the world are considering Houston. 
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Economic Update: Houston Works to Recover from Winter Storm, Makes Progress on COVID-19 

This month’s winter storm, which wreaked havoc across Texas and left millions without power and water for days, dealt a considerable blow to the Houston region already working to recover from the coronavirus-induced recession. But there is reason for optimism as the COVID-19 picture begins to improve here and elsewhere around the country.   In his monthly economic update this week, Partnership Senior Vice President of Research Patrick Jankowski addressed the winter storm and COVID-19, as well as their respective effects on the regional economy.   “It’s been a very rough year for us, rough both economically and public health wise,” Jankowski said, adding that the winter storm dealt residents - and their psyche - yet another blow.  The storm completely shut down Houston for most of the week of February 15, grinding business to a halt across the region. Temperatures reached a new record low of just 16 degrees and the weather forced shutdowns at power generation plants across the state, leading to widespread blackouts. Texas lawmakers are holding hearings this week in Austin to determine why plant infrastructure wasn’t more resilient against the severe weather and what can be done to ensure such a situation doesn’t occur again.  Jankowski said it’s difficult to quantify the economic impact the storm had on Houston since most economic data doesn’t analyze changes week-to-week. But he said it's clear that hourly workers, as many as 1.8 million individuals in the Houston region, were hit hardest because they simply couldn’t work and collect a paycheck. “This fell heaviest on those who could least afford it,” he said.  Jankowski said the good news is that COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are all decreasing in this region and across the country. The ramp up in the vaccination rollout could allow the U.S. to reach herd immunity by late spring or summer, he said. “When we reach that tipping point, we will begin to see the economy really reopen. People will begin to travel more, eat out more frequently, go to baseball games and movie theaters…It also means companies will act on business decisions that have been put on hold.”  But we aren’t out of the woods yet, Jankowski cautioned. He said initial weekly jobless claims are still three times higher than normal, and while some economists are projecting very robust U.S. job growth this year, he’s more pragmatic. “We will see healthy job growth, but not 600,000 jobs a month as some are forecasting.”  The recovery from the COVID-19 recession should be quicker than the Great Recession of 2008 because this one was spawned by a government mandate that restricted activity, Jankowski said. But, he added, what many aren’t factoring into the recovery are the structural changes that have accelerated preexisting trends. “Retail will never be the same again. Movie studios have taken to releasing their films directly to streaming services and bypassing theaters. We will be in a more hybrid work situation and that’s going to have a dramatic effect on the future of business.”  Nearly 60% of the 350,200 jobs lost in the Houston region at the height of the pandemic last year have been recouped, though higher wage jobs are rebounding quicker than lower paying positions.  To see Jankowski's full presentation, members can log into the Membership Portal at the top right of this screen. Get more research and analysis from the Partnership team in the Data section of the site.   
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