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Partnership Research Releases 2022 Houston Facts

Published Sep 26, 2022 by A.J. Mistretta

Skyline of Downtown Houston

HOUSTON (September 23, 2022) – How does Houston’s economy stack up against other major cities? How does trade with countries abroad affect our economy? Is our innovation ecosystem keeping pace with other major cities? 

Those are just a few of the many questions answered in the 2022 edition of the Partnership’s Houston Facts publication. Houston Facts has presented unvarnished information about the Houston region since 1959, and its predecessor publications—under different names, but with the same objective—date back to 1906. Today, Houston Facts is a concise, comprehensive almanac for the Houston region. 

Here are a few highlights from this year’s edition, developed by the Partnership’s Research team and presented by Fifth Third Bank. 

Here are a few highlights:

Demographics

The Houston region is home to 7.2 million people and had the third largest numeric increase in population of any U.S metro between July 2020 and July 2021, according to the most recent Census figures. Houston is also home to many people who were born outside of the U.S. – nearly one in four Houstonians, or 1.65 million residents, are foreign-born. Learn more about Houston’s demographics on page 8 of the report. 

Cost of Living

When it comes to affordability, Houston is really high on the list. The region is the second most affordable major metro among the nation’s 20 most populous metropolitan areas. Our living costs are over 27 percent below the average of those 20 metro areas, and our overall living costs are 5.9 percent below the average for all U.S. metros. Housing costs are also a standout for Houston – they’re more than 53.7 percent below the average for the nation’s most populous metro areas and 18 percent below the average for all U.S. metros. Learn more about Houston’s cost of living on page 43. 

Economy

Houston has returned to pre-pandemic employment levels. Nonfarm payroll employment topped 3.2 million in July 2022. That’s 59,000 above the previous employment record set in November 2019. The recovery has been uneven though. Twelve sectors have fully recovered their pandemic losses, two sectors are close to full recovery and two sectors in particular are still struggling. Learn which ones on page 13. 

International Business 

Houston’s economy is deeply tied to global trade and foreign investment. The region has trading relationships with more than 200 countries. The Houston/Galveston Customs District handled 269.4 million metric tons in exports valued at $170.4 billion in 2021. Eighty-seven nations have consular representation in the city, ranking Houston’s consular corps third largest in the nation. 

Innovation 

Houston is a thriving hub of digital tech talent, with more than 243,400 tech workers representing 7.9 percent of the region's workforce, according to an analysis by the Greater Houston Partnership. Houston is home to 8,800 tech related firms, including more than 800 venture-backed startups. These companies have received $4.35 billion in venture capital funding over the last five years including $2.02 billion in 2021 alone, a record high for the region. In 2021, the most heavily invested industry for VC funding in Houston was information technology, which received $632.1 million across 64 deals. Health care followed, with $518.4 across 67 deals. Materials and resources came in third, with $426.5 million in funding.

Find out more about education, the energy and life sciences industries, transportation and other facets of Houston in Houston Facts
 

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The holiday season is upon us, but amid inflation worries and a potential recession on the horizon, will Houstonians spend as much this year on gifts and seasonal purchases?   Sales totals in the City of Houston are up 13.6% so far this year based on sales and use tax data released by the Texas Comptroller’s Office. However, with inflation up 7.6 percent locally, it’s unclear whether consumers are actually buying more goods or simply paying more for the same items or fewer.   The retail trade association ICSC estimates that consumers will spend 6.7% more this holiday season than last year. The ICSC survey found that roughly 75% of respondents plan to begin their holiday shopping earlier this season and 43% said they’re looking for deals and promotions. A different report from the professional services firm PwC found that 74% of shoppers plan to spend the same or more than they did last year. Overall, consumers plan to spend an average of $1,430 on gifts, travel and entertainment this year, close to what they spent in 2021, according to the PwC report. But that’s up 20% over pandemic spending in the 2020 holiday season.   Houston’s retail market is fairly healthy, having recouped all of the jobs the sector lost in 2020 and opening hundreds of new outlets over the last two years. The metro retail market absorbed more than 500,000 square feet of space in Q3 and absorption year-to-date totals 2.8 million square feet, according to the commercial real estate firm Colliers. Limited available space is helping push rental rates up, climbing 2% over the last year.   Discretionary spending like what occurs during the holidays has a lot to do with consumer confidence. Nationally, confidence has slipped in the most recent monthly reports, thanks in part to recession fears. But Houston’s job growth has proven resilient, with 14,800 jobs created in September, the most recent data available. Thirteen of the 18 major industry sectors in metro Houston tracked by the Texas Workforce Commission had fully recouped their pandemic losses as of September.   While how much Houstonians will buy this season remains to be seen, it’s clear they will be paying more for whatever they purchase. Take the Thanksgiving meal, for example. Turkey and trimmings for 10 to 12 of your nearest and dearest will cost 20% more this year than in 2021, according to a survey from the American Farm Bureau Federation.     
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