Houston, home to more than 10,700 manufacturing establishments, now has more manufacturing jobs than any other city in the United States, making it number one on a very important list. The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reports that total non-farm employment in the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown Metropolitan Area stood at 2,499,900, an increase of 81,100 jobs from March 2006 to March 2007. Manufacturing in the Greater Houston Area added 7,300 of those jobs, growing at a rate of 3.3. This growth is impressive considering that, at the national level, manufacturing employment was down 0.7 percent for that same twelve months.
With 225,732 manufacturing jobs, Houston currently accounts for 18.5 percent of all Texas’ manufacturing employment. The leading manufacturers in terms of employment in Houston are the oil industry, plastic products, and industrial organic chemicals according to the Business Cycle Index (BCI) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. The Houston economy did slow some during the first part of this year due to a drop in petroleum prices, but beginning in March, the Houston economy again made a strong growth surge.
According to this research, Texas is becoming one of the strongest manufacturing centers in the United States. Houston is a leader in the state and has been ranked as a Gold Medal World-Class Community for Manufacturing for four consecutive years by Industry Week magazine.
In view of the strong competitive pressures created by an increasingly globalized market, Houston clearly has benefits such as good location for distribution of supplies and products with four deepwater ports, two major railroads radiating from Houston and more than 1,100 trucking companies that travel the U.S. interstate highway system throughout the area. The Port of Houston is a 25-mile-long complex of diversified public and private facilities located just a few hours’ sailing time from the Gulf of Mexico. The port is ranked first in the United States in foreign waterborne tonnage, second in the U.S. in total tonnage, and tenth in the world in total tonnage.
Another clear benefit for Houston is a good labor pool. The area is projected to experience a 2.7 percent increase in manufacturing employment by 2012. However, with an area population of more than 5.3 million, Houston boasts a 2.7 million-person workforce and provides a large, skilled labor pool for employers. And in Houston, the workforce has every opportunity to be well trained with more than 100 business and 530 vocational and technical schools providing training in a wide variety of areas, including such diverse areas as plastics and tool and die.
While many of the nation’s largest urban areas, such as New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco continue to lag in economic growth, Houston is moving full steam head. Fortunately, Houston has not faced some of the difficulties of many other large cities that can be attributed to high housing costs, business overheads, and taxes. Houston has ample, low-cost undeveloped property, office space and industrial space, and housing costs in the first quarter of 2007 were 25 percent below the nationwide average and 43 percent below the major metro average. Houston also enjoys the lowest grocery prices among the major metros, 16 percent below the nationwide average.
The Houston-Gulf Coast region has nearly 40 percent of the U.S. capacity for base petrochemicals, ensuring rapid access to major resin producers and the latest resin technologies. While energy remains a hot growth area, Houston manufacturing continues to diversify, which is significant in the continuing rapid job growth. We have 2,087 Metal Fabrication companies providing 67,372 jobs and approximately 250 electronics manufacturing establishments employing more than 20,000 people. Houston’s electronic assembly companies are also vital components of the energy-service, aerospace, consumer and medical segments of the economy. And the more than 300 software development companies provide jobs for more than 49,000 software professionals in the Houston area With all the benefits from location, labor pool, and diversified manufacturing with supporting businesses, Houston moves closer and closer to being the top manufacturing and business city in the United States.