Houston has landed the No. 1 spot on Forbes' latest annual list of America's Fastest-Growing Cities.
"Thanks in large part to the boom in horizontal drilling and fracking, which has helped the Houston metro area add a whopping 667,800 new jobs since 2005, the energy city is an economic powerhouse: Its 4.5 percent year-over-year job growth rate is the nation’s fastest," the Forbes report notes. "Jobs at major corporations like ConocoPhillipsand Halliburton help boost the median annual pay for college-educated workers to $71,900, fourth among America’s 100 largest metro areas. Add to that an economy that grew at a 3.52-percent clip last year alone."
The Houston metro area is expected to create 63,000 jobs in 2015, Forbes reports from stats offered by the Greater Houston Partnership. As well, some 1,500 corporate relocations or expansions have come to Houston since 2009, leased 20,000 or more square feet of office space or invested $1 million or more in capital improvements.
“When oil prices are low, Houston’s economy grows. When oil prices are high, Houston’s economy booms."
"In the past four years, greater Houston grew by half a million people — half from moves, half from births," the Forbes study notes. "Population growth means housing demand, and realtors sold more than 425,000 homes in the last five years, amounting to a home-closing rate of one every six minutes, according to the Greater Houston Partnership.
"What’s more, jobs boost construction, which is why last year Houston topped our list of "Building Boom Towns": Metro areas with the most new construction."
Forbes attributes exports as the driving force, beside oil, behind the boom, noting between 2009 and 2013 the value of Houston’s exports grew 74.5 percent, making the metro area the nation’s top exporter. Even though the falling price of oil is expected to slow Houston’s growth, the city's economy should "chug along" with the rest of the country, the report says.
“When oil prices are low, Houston’s economy grows," Patrick Jankowski, senior vice president of research at the Greater Houston Partnership, tells Forbes. "When oil prices are high, Houston’s economy booms."
Houston is joined by four other Texas cities to give the Lone Star State half the moving-and-shaking cities in the Top 10.
Austin is ranked No. 2 on the list, followed by Dallas at No. 3, Fort Worth at No. 8 and San Antonio at No. 10. Strong population growth and unemployment levels under 5 percent are propelling the cities' expansions, the report notes.
After Texas, the Golden State has the next greatest number of metro areas on the list with three: San Francisco at No. 7, San Diego at No. 16 and San Jose, No. 17.
The methodology behind the study began with taking the country's 100 most populous cities and their surrounding suburbs and ranking the areas on six metrics. Estimated population growth for 2014 and 2015, year-over-year job growth for 2014, 2014 gross economic growth rate, federal unemployment data and median annual pay for college-educated workers determined the final results for the 20 fasting-growing metro areas in terms of population and economy.