The Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metro area created 15,700 jobs in November,
according to the Texas Workforce Commission. The monthly job growth is slightly above
the 25-year average of 11,700 jobs for a November. When recession years are removed
from the long-term average, the past month’s job growth is typical for a November. Over
the past 12 months, the Houston region added 48,500 jobs, a 1.6 percent increase.
Retail trade recorded the strongest gains in November, adding 7,900 jobs. The increase is
expected given seasonal hiring for the holidays. Transportation, warehousing and utilities grew by 2,600 jobs, the largest November job gain for the sector since 1990, the farthest back the data is available. The rise of online retailers has increased the demand for workers to package and deliver goods. Several distribution centers recently opened in Houston including Amazon’s 855,000 square foot facility.
Professional and business services also experienced strong growth in November, adding
3,400 jobs. Architectural and engineering services accounted for 1,300 of that increase.
An area of concern is in employment services where 2,200 jobs were lost. It is yet to be
seen if that decline is due to contract workers being converted to full-time workers or
contracts being terminated.
Healthcare posted a loss of 1,700 jobs, with ambulatory health care centers shedding
1,600 jobs. After an explosion of ambulatory care centers over the past few years, the
sector is undergoing a period of right-sizing. Also, TWC estimated ambulatory care centers added 4,200 jobs in October, the strongest one-month gain on record, so November’s data may reflect an attempt to correct for an overestimation.
Houston’s unemployment rate was 4.3 percent in November, up from 4.1 percent in
October but down from 5.2 percent in November ’16. Texas’ unemployment rate was 3.7 percent in November, up from 3.5 percent in October but down from 4.5 percent in
November ’16. The U.S. rate was 3.9 percent in November, unchanged from October and
down from 4.4 percent in November ’16. The rates are not seasonally adjusted.