Skip to main content

Study: Houston Ship Channel Contributed More Than $900 Billion to U.S. Economy

Published Jun 05, 2023 by Taylor Tatum

Port of Houston - Ship Channel

Houston Ship Channel - Port of Houston

The Houston Ship Channel, an economic driver and a critical link to transporting goods and commerce with more than 200 countries around the world, generated $906 billion of economic value to the U.S. in 2022, reflecting a 13 percent increase since 2018, according to Port Houston’s latest economic impact study.

The Houston Ship Channel complex encompasses more than 200 public and private facilities while Port Houston owns and operates the eight public facilities along the 52-mile Houston Ship Channel. According to the study conducted by Martin Associates, the Houston Ship Channel generated $439.2 billion in total economic value for the state, representing 18.6 percent of the state’s GDP and a $100 billion increase in economic value since 2018. An additional $10.6 billion in state and local tax revenue was generated by activity at its marine terminals. 

In terms of employment, the Houston Ship Channel supported 3.4 million jobs in the U.S., including 1.5 million jobs in Texas – a 14 percent increase since 2018. Port Houston’s two public terminals resulted in nearly 190,000 new Texas jobs. 

The positive results of the study, which is conducted every four years, will help support continued investment in Port Houston’s future, including plans for facilities and infrastructure. This comes in the wake of the completion of the first section of the Houston Ship Channel expansion project, known as Project 11. This first section, referred to as Segment 1A, encompasses eleven and a half miles extending from Bolivar Road to Redfish and will help increase safety, reduce congestion, and improve vessel transit times by an hour. Project 11 is expected to be completed in 2025 and will move Port Houston closer to its goal of handling unrestricted two-way traffic of larger vessels. 

Port Houston ranks No. 5 in the nation in terms of TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) handled in 2022. With this jump from No. 7, Houston now owns a 7 percent market share of the total U.S. container business. 

According to the Partnership’s Global Houston report, Houston’s role as a major U.S. container port has continued to grow over the years as cargo activity shifts from the ports on the West Coast due to congestion. 

Learn more about Houston’s transportation and logistics infrastructure

Related News

Manufacturing

Houston Continues to Grow as a World-Class Manufacturing Powerhouse

5/22/24
Home to multiple deepwater ports, two international airports with over 180 non-stop destinations, and a diverse, highly educated workforce, Houston is a manufacturing and logistics powerhouse with an eye focused on the future.  As the base of operations for the international oil and gas exploration and production industry, as well as a number of the nation’s largest international engineering and construction firms, Houston has cemented its place as an important hub for an increasingly global economy. With over 7,000 manufacturing establishments and strategic advantages in chemical and machinery manufacturing and petroleum refining, accounting for over 44 percent of the nation’s overall petrochemicals manufacturing capacity, the Houston region offers unparalleled energy expertise and a talented workforce with transferable skills.  According to BDO’s 2024 Manufacturing CFO Outlook Survey, 89 percent of manufacturing CFOs plan to expand their U.S. operations this year, providing many opportunities for Houston as the No. 2 U.S. metropolitan area for manufacturing GDP and the No. 3 global competitive city in machinery and equipment.  Earlier this month, two Dallas-area companies, Eagle Materials Inc. and Heidelberg Materials North America, announced their plans to open a joint cement facility in Houston. Once fully operational, the Texas Lehigh Cement Company facility will have a manufacturing capacity of 500,000 tons per year.  According to a recent HBJ article, international cement companies have been looking at Texas, and Houston in particular, for possible expansion opportunities. In November 2023, CRH PLC, an Irish building materials manufacturer, announced its plans to expand its footprint in Texas, including three cement plants and terminals in the Houston area.  Earlier this year, Houston startup success story NanoTech Materials opened its 43,000-square-foot manufacturing facility and headquarters in the Katy area. Meanwhile, solar manufacturer EnGoPlanet recently announced its plans to open an assembly plant near George Bush Intercontinental Airport. According to President and COO Kirk Wehby, “We feel like there’s a strong workforce [in Houston] that will allow us to grow and continue what we do. The facilities here also best utilize our capabilities. Our plan is to be central to our suppliers that will do coding, lighting [and] to be close to the airport and the port. Houston is a home run.”  Workforce  Employing over 225,000 workers in 2022, manufacturing plays a critical role in Houston’s economy. Having set records for employment growth in 2021 and 2022, industry leaders and educational institutions are continuing to partner together in developing the region’s future workforce.  According to a regional workforce study conducted by the Partnership in 2020, Houston has an above-average and growing demand for middle-skill workers. To address these skills gaps, an increasing number of public-private partnerships have launched to strengthen Houston’s talent pipeline and bolster the workforce readiness of high school and college graduates in the region.  TXRX Labs, a non-profit makerspace in Houston’s East End, received a two-year grant from JPMorgan earlier this year to launch two advanced training programs in electronic assembly and welding fabrication. The grant comes as part of Houston’s Resiliency Workforce Collaborative, an initiative launched in December 2022 that helps increase career opportunities for Houston residents, particularly from underserved and under-resourced communities. According to the Houston Chronicle, the collaborative is on track to train 6,600 people and place over 1,400 in high-demand jobs by 2025.  Logistics & Distribution  In the last decade, Houston has emerged as an important logistics center, with developers adding over 83 million square feet of warehouse space since 2020. The region has also experienced a significant increase in the construction of large-scale industrial properties to accommodate the growth of national fulfillment and regional distribution centers, including Amazon, FedEx, McKesson, Sysco and UPS.  Home to four deepwater seaports including the Port of Houston, the nation’s No. 1 port for foreign waterborne tonnage, the region is one of the most significant transportation and distribution hubs in the nation, providing companies with exceptional access to global markets. Port Houston handled 578 million metric tons of cargo between January 2021 and January 2024 according to the Partnership’s 2024 Global Houston publication.  The region’s two international airports – William P. Hobby (HOU) and George Bush Intercontinental (IAH) - also serve as an important international gateway for passengers and air freight, with the Houston Airport System (HAS) serving over 54 million passengers and handling nearly 553,000 metric tons of freight in 2022.  Additionally, as the crossroads of major highways including I-45, I-10 and I-69, Houston’s extensive freeway and highway infrastructure contributes to minimizing transportation and distribution costs for companies of all sizes.  Learn more about the advantages of Houston as a world-class manufacturing, logistics and distribution hub.
Read More
Economic Development

Greater Houston Partnership Recognized Among Site Selection Magazine’s Top Groups

5/3/24
The Greater Houston Partnership has been awarded Site Selection Magazine’s Mac Conway Award for Excellence in Economic Development for its outstanding regional economic development performance in 2023. Widely considered to be the gold standard recognition for regions from the industry’s top trade publication, the award is based on the following criteria:  Total projects Total investment associated with those corporate facility projects Total jobs associated with those corporate facility projects Per capita calculations of those same three metrics  "Receiving the Mac Conway Award for Excellence in Economic Development is not just a recognition of our region’s achievements; it's a testament to our commitment to creating opportunity in Houston,” said Steve Kean, President and CEO at the Partnership. “It’s a team effort here in Houston, and we are delighted to work with our partner economic development groups across the region to tell the world about Houston and attract new jobs and investment to our community.”  This is the Partnership’s first win since 2021 and 15th time winning the award. The Partnership previously received honorable mentions in 2007, 2016 and 2017, bringing the Partnership’s total number of appearances in Site Selection’s top group rankings to 18 since its inception in 1989.  “I am very proud of our organization's recognition of the prestigious Mac Conway Award for Excellence,” said Craig Rhodes, Senior Vice President of Economic Development at the Partnership. “It's a testament to the collaborative efforts with our partners across the 12-county region, and it motivates our team to continue our mission of driving inclusive prosperity and creating meaningful opportunities for all."  Following major economic development wins in 2023, the greater Houston region has gotten off to a strong start in the first quarter of 2024, with 139 new business announcements identified.  A total of 40 businesses established new facilities in the Houston area while 97 projects were an expansion of existing Houston-area facilities. Manufacturing accounted for 32 percent of the announcements, with professional, scientific and technical services ranking second (17 percent).  Learn more about why companies choose Houston.
Read More

Related Events

Economic Development

State of the Port

The Port of Houston is renowned as a strategic gateway to the world and plays a vital role in facilitating international trade and driving economic growth. As the nation’s largest port in foreign tonnage, Port…

Learn More
Learn More
Executive Partners