September 15, 2017
The Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metro area lost 3,900 jobs in August, according to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). The loss came as a bit of surprise. Only four times in the past 25 years has the region logged job losses in August, and those losses coincided with overall weakness in the economy.
The August employment data was gathered prior to Hurricane Harvey, so the numbers don’t reflect the impact of the storm. Most likely, the August data suggests that despite robust 12-month job growth, Houston is still recovering from the downturn in the energy industry.
Houston created 53,500 jobs in the 12 months ending August ’17. However, the details
are a bit perplexing. The overall manufacturing sector added 12,800 jobs despite machine manufacturing losing 4,700. Of the 15,500 jobs gained in professional services, 13,000 were in employment services (i.e., contract workers). Nearly 60 percent of the job growth in health care is occurring outside of hospitals.
Harvey’s impact on Houston employment won’t be known until TWC releases September jobs data, which is scheduled for October 20. Historically, Houston employment falls the month after a storm then rebounds over the next two to three months. The Partnership expects post-Harvey employment to follow the same pattern.
Houston’s August unemployment rate was 5.2 percent, up from 4.9 percent in July but down from 5.7 percent in August ’16. Texas’ unemployment rate was 4.5 percent in
August, up from 4.3 percent in July but down from and 4.9 percent in July ’16. The U.S.
rate was 4.5 percent in August, down from 4.6 percent in July and 5.0 percent in August
’16. The rates are not seasonally adjusted.
Prepared by Greater Houston Partnership Research Department
Patrick Jankowski, CCR
Senior Vice President, Research
Director, Economic Research