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Houston Forecasted to Add 35,000 to 52,000 Jobs in '21

Published Dec 08, 2020 by A.J. Mistretta

Houston Skyline

HOUSTON (Dec. 8, 2020) - The Greater Houston Partnership forecasts the Houston metro area will create between 35,000 and 52,000 net new jobs in 2021 as the region works to recover from the devastating economic impact of COVID-19.

Most of the job growth is likely to occur in the second half of the year as Houston and the rest of the world begin returning to more normal economic activity thanks to COVID-19 vaccines. The sectors contributing most to job growth in this region are likely to be administrative support services, health care and social assistance, manufacturing and professional services. The Partnership expects nearly every industry, except for energy and retail, to post job gains in the year ahead.

A number of factors will determine where Houston job growth lands within the forecasted range, according to Partnership Senior Vice President of Research Patrick Jankowski. If oil prices reach $50 per barrel by the spring, real GDP growth exceeds 4.5% and new COVID infections fall below 40,000 per day in Q1, gains will be on the higher end of the range, he said. If those factors do not fall into place and rising cases force more stay-at-home orders, growth will likely be closer to 35,000 jobs.

Other factors will elevate or weigh on the forecast, including another major U.S. stimulus package, multi-billion-dollar local infrastructure projects and the actions of OPEC, Jankowski said.

“The U.S. will see two different economies next year,” Jankowski said. “The first half of 2021 will be a struggle.” He points to a new potential surge in cases following the holidays and a wait-and-see approach among consumers as the vaccines roll out. Mid-year will be a tipping point, with the general public getting the vaccine and active cases hopefully trending down. “As the pandemic subsides, a wave of pent-up demand will be unleashed. Businesses will restart projects suspended the year before. Consumers, not wanting to forego another vacation, will book flights or load up their SUVs. Energy consumption will grow, oil prices will rise, and drilling activity will pick up.”

Partnership President and CEO Bob Harvey agrees that once Houston has overcome COVID, the region will still need time to regain its economic footing. “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,” he said.  “We have our work cut out for us in growing our economy out of the hole it is currently in. But we are Houston and I believe we will recover.  We will continue to work to make this a truly global city, one with a strong, diverse, 21st century economy that provides a great quality of life and opportunity for all.”

Here’s a sector-by-sector breakdown of the jobs forecast. More details on the factors impacting each industry are available in the full report.

  • Energy: Flat to a loss of – 2,000 jobs
  • Construction: +2,000 to 4,000 jobs
  • Manufacturing: +4,000 to 6,000 jobs
  • Wholesale Trade: +3,000 to 3,500 jobs 
  • Retail: – 2,000 to  – 3,000 jobs
  • Transportation: +2,500 to 3,000 jobs
  • Information: +500 to 1,000 jobs
  • Finance and Insurance: +800 to 1,000 jobs
  • Real Estate, Rental and Leasing: +to 1,000 jobs
  • Professional, Scientific, Technical Services: +4,000 to 6,000 jobs
  • Administrative and Support Services: +6,000 to 8,000 jobs
  • Education Services: +600 to 1,000 jobs
  • Health Care and Social Assistance: +6,000 to 7,000 jobs
  • Arts, Entertainment and Recreation: +600 to 1,500 jobs
  • Restaurants and Bars: +4,000 to 5,000 jobs
  • Hotels: +1,000 to 1,500 jobs
  • Other Services: +1,000 to 1,500 jobs
  • Government: +500 to 1,000 jobs

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Greater Houston Partnership
The Greater Houston Partnership works to make Houston one of the best places to live, work and build a business. As the economic development organization for the Houston region, the Partnership champions growth across 12 counties by bringing together business and civic-minded leaders who are dedicated to the area’s long-term success. Representing 1,100 member organizations and approximately one-fifth of the region’s workforce, the Partnership is the place business leaders come together to make an impact. Learn more at Houston.org.

A.J. Mistretta
Vice President, Communications         
(c) 504-450-3516 | amistretta@houston.org

Maggie Martin 
Senior Manager, Communications         
(c) 832-690-0206 | mmartin@houston.org

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