According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of December 2014, the Houston unemployment rate was 4 percent, less than the overall US unemployment rate, which was 5.6 percent for that same time period. Taking into account the areas surrounding Houston, which have seen high unemployment, the rate is consistently lower than the nation at large.
An Improvement in the Unemployment Rate
The rate of unemployment in the Houston economic area was 6.2 percent in 2013. This showed modest improvement from 2012, when the rate was 6.8 percent.
Houston and the 2008 Recession
As in many other parts of the United States, the 2008 economic recession had an adverse effect on the Houston unemployment rate, but the impact was not immediately severe. The annual unemployment rate in the area was 4.3 percent in 2007 and 4.8 percent for 2008. While the Houston area experienced a job market slump in 2009, the annual unemployment rate climbed to 8.1 percent.
That change was likely due in large part to the economic recession of 2008, but the annual data for 2008 did not show the true impact of the recession. During 2011 and 2012, the unemployment rate rose, but 2013 marked the start of an improvement in the area's unemployment rate. Throughout 2014, the rate generally remained steady or fell, indicating that although the 2008 recession impacted the area, Houston’s economy experienced a highly successful recovery.
Industries That Recently Impacted Unemployment in Houston
BLS data collected across the second half of 2014 showed that the unemployment rate steadily declined during that period. Jobs in the mining and logging industries showed healthy labor patterns, where the employment rate rose every month except for November, totaling a 10.4 percent rise overall across the previous 12 months.
However, the results were not as favorable for the leisure and hospitality industry, according to BLS data. Although job figures for the industry still ended up contributing to the workforce, the effect was not as great as in the previous example.
The employment rate was 5.2 in July of 2014, then fell for the next three months before recovering slightly, then falling again. This indicates that the leisure and hospitality industry at least temporarily caused a rise in Houston's overall unemployment numbers, especially during months when labor force data numbers sank.
Future Job Trends in Houston
If historical data from the local area, as well as national workforce data holds true, jobs in the governmental sector are not likely to have a significant impact on reducing unemployment in Houston. Data shows only a small rise in employment across a reporting period made up of the past 12 months.
A similar story is seen by jobs in an industry classified by the BLS as "Other Services." The 12-month change in that respective sector showed a 3.2 percent rise, but that figure fell to just 2.6 percent in October 2014.
In contrast, employment opportunities in the education and health services sector performed strongly overall in 2014, seeing a 7.6 percent rise in employment in October 2014. Although that figure fell slightly to an increase of 6.8 percent during the last month of 2014, the industry performed comparatively well across the reporting period when contrasted with other sectors of the workforce.
The BLS projects jobs in the Houston area healthcare industry will grow much faster than the national average. It's also helpful that several of the top employers in Houston, such as The Methodist Hospital and the Baylor College of Medicine, are healthcare-related options.
Although the projected growth rate for education-related jobs is not as fast-paced, it's still expected to show positive changes rather than a decline in employment.
A key measure of labor supply, the unemployment rate is defined as the percentage of the total labor force that is unemployed but actively seeking employment and willing to work. Use the links below to see unemployment trends from the 28 major metropolitan markets:
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