The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas recently published its monthly economic outlook for Houston. Highlights were
- Houston jobs grew at an annualized rate of 3.9% in the first quarter (29,200 jobs). Biggest gains were in professional and business services (13,600), trade, transportation and utilities (3,300) and education and health services (3,300).
- Year-over-year job growth was 2.1% (64,100).
- Houston unemployment rate was 4.7% in March (Texas 4.0%, USA 4.1%)
- Post Hurricane Harvey, construction employment grew at an annualized rate of 4.5% in the first quarter.
- Total commercial office vacancy rate rose to 23.1%, following completion of new office space. Industrial vacancy rate is tight at 5%.
- Median house prices dropped slightly to $232,200 but supply remains tight at 3.6 months of sales.
The Fed also published data on the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area. Job growth was 3.2% in the first quarter and the unemployment rate was 3.6%. Worryingly, net absorption of office space was negative for the first time since the second quarter of 2010. The office vacancy rate rose to 20.5% and is likely to rise further as there is 4.9 million square feet under construction, much of it speculative.