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Houston's Economy

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Interesting article in the Chronicle:

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/5564021.html

The gist is that since we're not as dependent on oil as we used to be, we'll no longer experience an economic boom when oil prices soar. This paragraph is aggravating:

"In New York, their presumption is that Houston is bursting at the seams," said local economic guru Barton Smith, who heads the University of Houston's Institute for Regional Forecasting. "But we're not growing as fast as Phoenix or Atlanta, or even Dallas or Austin. People ask how that can be with $95-a-barrel oil. We're a different economy."

Okay, so what exactly will it take for us to grow as fast as Phoenix or Atlanta, or even Dallas or Austin? Not $100 oil prices apparently. What then?

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I found that article more reassuring than discouraging. Sure, big booms are nice, but there is only one sure thing about a big boom - there will eventually be a big bust (at least by comparison). Living and surviving one is enuf for me. Houston is growing more like how DFW was growing in the 70s, slower, but more steady. When oil collapsed in the 80s, it hurt DFW too, but not enuf to damage their image as it did in Houston.

I'm fine with the way Houston is growing today. Like the article said, it's a more 'sophisticated' kind of growth. That boom in the 70's had Houston developers acting like teenagers, thinking that they were completely invincible and spending like there was no tomorrow. Then we all found out the hard way that there was a price to pay for such shortsightedness.

It's always nice to hear that Houston outdoes Dallas in anything, but I'm not particularly worried that there are other cities growing faster than Houston AT THE MOMENT. As long as the economy stays as healthy as it has been in the last 10 years in Houston, I don't think there is much to complain about - except maybe that the new towers going up don't seem to be as tall as they were in the 70's boom.

Yet.

Edited by Mister X

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They need to get more positive writers at the Chronicle. Talkin' bout Houston isn't growing as fast as all of these other cities when its growing 3rd fastest nationwide. Maybe they mean its not growing as fast building wise, because I could see their case there. Austin, Dallas & Atlanta are booming building wise. But on the other hand Houston is starting a lot of new projects.

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They need to get more positive writers at the Chronicle. Talkin' bout Houston isn't growing as fast as all of these other cities when its growing 3rd fastest nationwide. Maybe they mean its not growing as fast building wise, because I could see their case there. Austin, Dallas & Atlanta are booming building wise. But on the other hand Houston is starting a lot of new projects.

We aren't growing as fast in percentage terms as Austin, Atlanta, or Phoenix (and we're actually growing slightly faster than DFW at the moment) but numerically, we are only slightly behind DFW in employment and population growth.

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We aren't growing as fast in percentage terms as Austin, Atlanta, or Phoenix (and we're actually growing slightly faster than DFW at the moment) but numerically, we are only slightly behind DFW in employment and population growth.

What contributes to Phoenix's continued growth? Companies continue to relocate? All I know of are call centers. An endless supply of snowbirds? I have heard of middle-class Canadians buying older condo stock in Arizona-- weakness of the dollar, soft housing market, etc. Interested in what drives growth there.

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What contributes to Phoenix's continued growth? Companies continue to relocate? All I know of are call centers. An endless supply of snowbirds? I have heard of middle-class Canadians buying older condo stock in Arizona-- weakness of the dollar, soft housing market, etc. Interested in what drives growth there.

Phoenix is similar to Las Vegas but without gambling. Both pick up on firms seeking to serve California without being subject to California regulations. That's probably the best thing that Phoenix has going for it. Both are attractive to snowbirds, both have hot dry climates with plenty of sunny days and cool nights.

Phoenix is benefited by the weak dollar on account of that it has a fair bit of exposure to tech and aerospace, industries where the U.S. has a comparative advantage, but they've been hurt pretty badly as a result of overbuilding of for-sale homes and excessive home price speculation.

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Interesting article in the Chronicle:

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/5564021.html

The gist is that since we're not as dependent on oil as we used to be, we'll no longer experience an economic boom when oil prices soar. This paragraph is aggravating:

Okay, so what exactly will it take for us to grow as fast as Phoenix or Atlanta, or even Dallas or Austin? Not $100 oil prices apparently. What then?

Location, location, location (which we can do nothing about). When you edge out Lake Jackson, Baytown, and New Orleans, in terms of where people want to live (location-wise), you've got a big problem. Just my opinion...

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Right, we've got a real 'big' problem. Adding a mere 100,000 new residents per year is just not enough. We're practically living in a ghost town. What ever shall we do! :rolleyes:

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Right, we've got a real 'big' problem. Adding a mere 100,000 new residents per year is just not enough. We're practically living in a ghost town. What ever shall we do! :rolleyes:

Quality, not quantity. And I bet if you ask many of those 100K new residents, why they moved here, they would say their job. Houston just does not have the same

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Location, location, location (which we can do nothing about). When you edge out Lake Jackson, Baytown, and New Orleans, in terms of where people want to live (location-wise), you've got a big problem. Just my opinion...

Actually, Lake Jackson and Baytown are part of our Metropolitan Statistical Area. We don't edge them out; we are they.

And Mister X is correct: nobody would live here if they didn't want to. There is nobody forcing people's decisions. If people want to live here because the jobs are good and because the relative cost of living is low, those are perfectly valid reasons which we shouldn't take for granted.

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Quality, not quantity. And I bet if you ask many of those 100K new residents, why they moved here, they would say their job. Houston just does not have the same “coolness factor” as many of those other cities (Atlanta, Chicago, Austin, Seattle, etc.) Not that being cool matters (well, it does in August around here)…

Yet they come anyway. I bet a lot of those people would say that it's so 'cool' to have a job, so that probably makes Houston cool enuf for them. But, there must something more than just jobs keeping people coming here and staying here. Las Vegas has lots of jobs and is unquestionably 'cooler' and more fun than Houston - one would think that anyone who didn't feel that Houston was 'cool' enuf for them would just go there and be 'happy'.

I don't think it makes Houston look bad at all if people moved here because a good job or a career brought them here, instead of 'coolness'. Coolness can go bust quicker than an overbuilt, one-trick pony driven economy.

Quality is pretty subjective. I like my big house and big back yard. I would never have had this kind of quality back in San Francisco. Although I must admit, here in Houston I never get the pleasure of being asked for change from a homeless person the moment I walk out of my house, on a daily basis.

Edited by Mister X

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We aren't growing as fast in percentage terms as Austin, Atlanta, or Phoenix (and we're actually growing slightly faster than DFW at the moment) but numerically, we are only slightly behind DFW in employment and population growth.

Not sure about employment growth, but I believe the most recent census estimates show Houston growing faster than DFW both numerically and percentage-wise. Likewise, I'm pretty sure they show Houston growing faster numerically than both Atlanta and Phoenix (and no doubt Austin).

IMO the Chron needs to find themselves a new economic analyst to turn to.

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Barton Smith was the analyst, and he's pretty much the reigning economics expert on Houston. My guess is that he was talking about percentages, and that with Dallas, he was thinking of how it's been for the most part the last two decades.

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It may not be like the 80s but we are definitley in an Energy Boom right now. One of the main things keeping it from getting even bigger is a lack of workforce. There just isn't enough petrochem talent in Houston to keep up with the amount of work out there.

The amount of money coming through Houston's petrochem businesses is staggering. Projects that cost $70mil 5 years aog are now $350mil. There are multiple projects out there that are getting close to $10bil. My boss has been in the business for 47 years and he says he's never seen it like this.

If this ended right now the West side of Houston would be a ghost town.

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Not sure about employment growth, but I believe the most recent census estimates show Houston growing faster than DFW both numerically and percentage-wise. Likewise, I'm pretty sure they show Houston growing faster numerically than both Atlanta and Phoenix (and no doubt Austin).

IMO the Chron needs to find themselves a new economic analyst to turn to.

They really just need to hire better reporters and editors. It was not at all clear what Bart was using as a measure of growth or what time period he was referring to, and if tracking stats like these weren't a professional obligation of mine, I probably wouldn't know whether he was talking about numerical or percentage forms of growth.

A good reporter/editor would seek to use more precise language. It's not as though the guy is at all difficult to reach for clarification...and I know from personal experience that if he has the opportunity to clarify, he figgin' clarifies.

It may not be like the 80s but we are definitley in an Energy Boom right now. One of the main things keeping it from getting even bigger is a lack of workforce. There just isn't enough petrochem talent in Houston to keep up with the amount of work out there.

I've heard this several times from different economists and energy execs speaking at events. In the words of many, the only single thing that really puts a constraint on Houston's growth is a shortage of professional, skilled, and semi-skilled labor equiped with the knowledge to function in the energy industry. The problem is compounded by the energy workforce tends to be much older than the non-energy workforce, and are retiring at a disproportionate rate.

Edited by TheNiche

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I've heard this several times from different economists and energy execs speaking at events. In the words of many, the only single thing that really puts a constraint on Houston's growth is a shortage of professional, skilled, and semi-skilled labor equiped with the knowledge to function in the energy industry. The problem is compounded by the energy workforce tends to be much older than the non-energy workforce, and are retiring at a disproportionate rate.

I think the problem was caused by the big bust of the 80s. The oil companies got rid of everyone. The refinery where my dad worked had 5000 people when he started and 800 left when he retired. No one went into the business for 20 years. Now all we have left are guys that are 55+ and 20 something college grads, there's a new guy on my job that is 80 years old. The oil compaines worked so hard for the last 20 years to keep prices low that they destroyed their workforce. Now we're paying for all those years of cheap gas prices.

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I think the problem was caused by the big bust of the 80s. The oil companies got rid of everyone. The refinery where my dad worked had 5000 people when he started and 800 left when he retired. No one went into the business for 20 years. Now all we have left are guys that are 55+ and 20 something college grads, there's a new guy on my job that is 80 years old. The oil compaines worked so hard for the last 20 years to keep prices low that they destroyed their workforce. Now we're paying for all those years of cheap gas prices.

Refinery operations have tended to have relatively little variability in employment that is attributable to the refining margins, and in fact refining (like most other forms of manufacturing) has become more capital-intensive and less labor-intensive over the last several decades, resulting in a slow hemmorage of jobs.

The bulk of refinery-related employment that expands or contracts has to do with major capital expansion programs. The good news is that Houston gets a lot of engineering and energy finance jobs that can be done from office buildings far-removed from the actual project, so refinery expansions all over the world create employment here. The bad news is that if refining margins go south, these people get laid off pretty quick.

The much larger employment push right now, though, is in upstream energy.

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I'm not really worried about the "B-Word" anymore, as someone said, our economy is totally different from the 80's.

The only real thing that is holding development, and I hear this almost constantly now from people that looking at Houston to move into to is how far behind we are in transit for being the size of city we are and its incredible as to what kind of preconceptions they have of our city.

It's not something that the Convention and travel Bureau (or whatever it is called) can fix with some nifty (read: lame) ads. There is something fundamentally wrong on how people percieve Houston. I don't know if its the cowboy movies, the terrible movies, or what. But people can't get over the "hick" factor that Houston seems to have.

While talking to a few people last night, I found it absolutely unforgivable on how some businesses downtown don't stay open/change their hours when a major event comes to Houston. The Helicopter convention has brought 15,000 people in to Downtown and I had to struggle to find a place for them to eat early on a saturday and sunday afternoon for a quick snack.

Sorry, I was ranting..

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The bulk of refinery-related employment that expands or contracts has to do with major capital expansion programs. The good news is that Houston gets a lot of engineering and energy finance jobs that can be done from office buildings far-removed from the actual project, so refinery expansions all over the world create employment here.

The bad news is that those projects can also be done from India. They don't have the expertise yet but they are fast learners and we're handing all our technology to them.

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The bad news is that those projects can also be done from India. They don't have the expertise yet but they are fast learners and we're handing all our technology to them.

Those jobs wouldn't go to India if we actually had people that could do the jobs...even if those people were paid considerably more. According to studies done by urban economists on what they call "economies of localization", professions related to engineering and specifically to the energy industry benefit the most out of any kinds of jobs by those jobs being clustered in a single city. Houston is that city.

Relying on labor from other parts of the world is a major sacrifice for the corporations, but they're doing what they have to to make projects happen. If we adjusted our educational infrastructure to provide for these kinds of positions or made our immigration laws more friendly to productive people that want to come here, a lot of our problems would be solved...but neither of those are going to be politically popular, especially given that they aren't looking to do any favors for oil/gas/coal producers.

The only real thing that is holding development, and I hear this almost constantly now from people that looking at Houston to move into to is how far behind we are in transit for being the size of city we are and its incredible as to what kind of preconceptions they have of our city.

It's not something that the Convention and travel Bureau (or whatever it is called) can fix with some nifty (read: lame) ads. There is something fundamentally wrong on how people percieve Houston. I don't know if its the cowboy movies, the terrible movies, or what. But people can't get over the "hick" factor that Houston seems to have.

While talking to a few people last night, I found it absolutely unforgivable on how some businesses downtown don't stay open/change their hours when a major event comes to Houston. The Helicopter convention has brought 15,000 people in to Downtown and I had to struggle to find a place for them to eat early on a saturday and sunday afternoon for a quick snack.

People that care so much about coolness are the most likely to do irrepairable harm to our local economy by voting for politicians that will stifle it. Their priorities are totally messed up. They have little concept of how the world actually works. We should do absolutely nothing to try to attract them.

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I don't know if its the cowboy movies, the terrible movies, or what. But people can't get over the "hick" factor that Houston seems to have.

I see that is the perception of Texas as a whole from the outsiders, not soley Houston. Maybe it's my imagination but it seems cities such as San Antonio and Dallas embrace those old cowboys and spurs images more than Houston or Austin. To people outside of Texas, we're all the same.

This weekend I was watching the movie "Ordinary People" and there's a scene where Mary Tyler Moore and Donald Sutherland's characters are on a airplane to Houston to visit Beth's (played by MTM) brother and there were two guys sitting behind them with with big 10-gallon cowboy hats. I rolled my eyes, but at the same time found it amusing. I mean it's laughable. From what I understand "Ordinary People" has always been a highly regarded film, but it doesn't seem to matter to Hollywood, granted this movie is about 25 years old. Though the couple of scenes that actually took place in Houston were about golf and country clubs so I think that redeemed it a little for me.

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If this ended right now the West side of Houston would be a ghost town.

I disagree. West Houston is growing for more reasons than just oil. A bust may cause a hiccup, but nothing like the 80s. Houston's population and demand for real estate is just too huge now.

1. Anything inside the Beltway along the Memorial corridor all the way into downtown is pretty much out of 98% of the populations reach. The areas just outside the Beltway are still in an outstanding school district and the values are what inside the Beltway was 5 years ago.

2. People are moving in from the satellite suburbs. The commutes are becoming too long as Houston packs in. These little neighborhoods in West Houston are the closest things to the suburbs. Most people inside the Loop think we are the suburbs. And we are, just urban suburban.

3. The new little medical center that starting to build out here is pulling in staff and doctors to reside.

4. The tech industry is setting up shop in the region.

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Relying on labor from other parts of the world is a major sacrifice for the corporations, but they're doing what they have to to make projects happen.

Your posts are always interesting and well-informed niche...

I wouldn't call the outsourcing of the engineering business a sacrifice though. I've been heavily involved with it for many years now and the one thing that drives it is cost. It is simply a tool to keep labor costs down. There is less motivation for people in the U.S. to go into businesses that are being outsourced, that causes the labor pool to shrink. Many people in the engineering business have left it because of the outsourcing, that's one of the reasons we have a shortage of talent today. I have many friends who have left to start a small business or new career, they aren't coming back now even though there is big money to be made.

I don't think there is anything we can do about this though. The economic imbalance between the U.S. and India is what causes it. The only solution is to end that imbalance. If we don't outsource then the petrochem engineering companies will just leave the U.S. altogether and go where the cheap labor is.

Edited by jgriff

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Cite examples please.

The only big one I know of is BMC. From what I hear they are not doing that well. They keep having layoffs.

Edit: Microsoft has an office in the BMC complex also.

Edited by jgriff

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Those jobs wouldn't go to India if we actually had people that could do the jobs...even if those people were paid considerably more. According to studies done by urban economists on what they call "economies of localization", professions related to engineering and specifically to the energy industry benefit the most out of any kinds of jobs by those jobs being clustered in a single city. Houston is that city.

Relying on labor from other parts of the world is a major sacrifice for the corporations, but they're doing what they have to to make projects happen. If we adjusted our educational infrastructure to provide for these kinds of positions or made our immigration laws more friendly to productive people that want to come here, a lot of our problems would be solved...but neither of those are going to be politically popular, especially given that they aren't looking to do any favors for oil/gas/coal producers.

People that care so much about coolness are the most likely to do irrepairable harm to our local economy by voting for politicians that will stifle it. Their priorities are totally messed up. They have little concept of how the world actually works. We should do absolutely nothing to try to attract them.

There's nothing that can be done, unless you can dig up this city and move it 200 miles west or north. Our location has us sunk (good for ships, not for people). There's a reason your big house and big yard is so cheap - because given the choice among other cities, and looking at the bigger work-life balance picture, your proximity to the nasty, humid Gulf of Mexico, people choose other places (yea, so 100K a year come here, but other 'nicer' places are growing faster - and there's a reason for it). The economics of working and residing in Houston works out well, but we're lacking in too many other departments (not to mention the weather is crappy here 50% of the time, regardless of the time of year!).

No amount of "coolness" or trying to be cool or electing politicians who would be as foolish to think they can change our image is going to change that, and I certainly wasn't advocating that position - and anyone who told me they were going to make Houston "a cool place to live," I wouldn't vote for simply because I don't believe in the principal of putting lipstick on pigs. Houston is what it is: a large, sprawling city that is a good place to work, but low on the list of places to live.

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There's nothing that can be done, unless you can dig up this city and move it 200 miles west or north. Our location has us sunk (good for ships, not for people).

Houston's location is not good for people? That's just asinine.

Your post makes you sound like the man less traveled.

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Houston's location is not good for people? That's just asinine.

Your post makes you sound like the man less traveled.

Houston's location, relative to other locations, is not the best. There are worse, and there are more that are better... and I know that... because I have traveled. =)

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Your posts are always interesting and well-informed niche...

I wouldn't call the outsourcing of the engineering business a sacrifice though. I've been heavily involved with it for many years now and the one thing that drives it is cost. It is simply a tool to keep labor costs down. There is less motivation for people in the U.S. to go into businesses that are being outsourced, that causes the labor pool to shrink. Many people in the engineering business have left it because of the outsourcing, that's one of the reasons we have a shortage of talent today. I have many friends who have left to start a small business or new career, they aren't coming back now even though there is big money to be made.

I don't think there is anything we can do about this though. The economic imbalance between the U.S. and India is what causes it. The only solution is to end that imbalance. If we don't outsource then the petrochem engineering companies will just leave the U.S. altogether and go where the cheap labor is.

There are certain types of employment within the energy sector that have been aggressively outsourced. One example is accounting. An aunt of mine lost her job at Shell for just that reason...they moved her whole department to the Philipennes. But GAAP accounting methods are much easier to teach than is engineering, and it is utilized in such a variety of industries that labor is relatively interchangable and also ubiquitously available in major labor markets.

Engineering (especially in oil & gas) is different because within the whole of the field are finely-honed specialties for which there are few schools. This is why energy firms chose Houston over New Orleans, Tulsa, Chicago, NYC, etc. It was an HR decision that was self-reinforcing. If they could actually find sufficient engineering talent locally, they'd hire them. Just think of all the bonuses that have been given not only to the new hires, but to those that referred them. They're desperate for qualified American engineers.

If they have to go to India, that really is a sacrifice. The labor may be cheap, but there are a lot of problems with going multinational. Firstly is bringing together a team of qualified persons that are presently geographically scattered (there isn't a labor market similar to Houston in India). Language, culture, travel, expats, tax implications, currency risk, law, lawlessness, war risk, and political risk come to mind at other complicating factors...I'm sure there are others.

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Houston's location, relative to other locations, is not the best. There are worse, and there are more that are better... and I know that... because I have traveled. =)

You talk about heat and humidity but fail to mention 2 of the most poplar tourist cities in the nation (NO & Miami) having the same problem.

I get soooo tired of listening to those that moan and groan about Houston and it's lack of amenities, topography, etc. This city is very desirable for millions, including myself who has traveled this country for years. I have a beach, I have architecture, I have great food, I have a wonderful home that would cost me a fortune in most cities, I've got virtually every athletic team available, and those venues are all of 7 miles from one another. I've got fishing in both fresh and saltwater, I've got 75 degree days right now while many in the Norths more desirable cities are miserable, I've got great live music,

etc, etc....

In short, What Coog said. This is "Asinine"

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Here's a list of the companies in Westchase from their website. I've highlighted the ones that I know are energy related. The company I work for is on this list and we account for 5% of the jobs in the district, there are a few on here that are bigger than us. There's only a few on this list that are major employers and not energy related. If there was a bust in energy I bet you could lose 30% of the jobs in Westchase and they would be the higher paying ones.

American InterContinental Univ.

Bank of America

Camden

Cantoni

Chevron

Cytogenix

Dow Chemical

G.E. Infrastructure Sensing

Granite Properties

Halliburton

Heartland Healthcare

Houston Marriott Westchase

Hunton Group

Jacobs Engineering

MemberSource Credit Union

MetroNational

MI Swaco

Omni Bank

Randalls

Sueba USA

Target

Thomas Properties

United Recovery Systems

CGG Veritas

Vaughn Construction

Weingarten Realty Investors Westchase Hilton

ABB

Affiliated Computer Services

Air Routing

Aker Kvaerner

BMC Software

Brown & Gay

Cameron International

Cardtronics

David Powers Homes

HFG Engineering US, Inc.

Haynes Whaley

Honeywell

ITT Technical Institute

KB Homes

Kroger

Landmark Graphics

Lockwood Andrews and Newnam

Maverick Engineering, Inc.

Men's Wearhouse

Microsoft

National Oilwell Varco

Quest Diagnostics

Smith, Seckman & Reid

Talent Tree

URS Corporation

U.S. Physical Therapy

Western Geco

Wood Group Pressure Control

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The economics of working and residing in Houston works out well, but we're lacking in too many other departments (not to mention the weather is crappy here 50% of the time, regardless of the time of year!).

I think you really meant to use the word "finances" rather than economics. Economics is a wholistic study of those factors that cause firms and households to do what they do. If 'coolness' is a factor, then it is accounted for in our population growth.

This is the same principle as if one were trying to determine why anybody in their right mind would be a university professor. The pay sucks (that is a pecuniary aspect), so finances not be as bright as if that same person were to dive totally into the private sector, but the benefits such as flexible hours, vacation time, and individual notions of pride in what they do (non-pecuniary aspects) are major factors that cannot be ignored. Without accounting for those, we'd have many fewer professors. Without Houston's non-pecuniary factors (or rather those that are negative), we'd have more people.

As for climate, I'd challenge the assertion that the climate is crappy. It beats the hell out of non-sunbelt parts of the country.

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There are certain types of employment within the energy sector that have been aggressively outsourced. One example is accounting. An aunt of mine lost her job at Shell for just that reason...they moved her whole department to the Philipennes. But GAAP accounting methods are much easier to teach than is engineering, and it is utilized in such a variety of industries that labor is relatively interchangable and also ubiquitously available in major labor markets.

Engineering (especially in oil & gas) is different because within the whole of the field are finely-honed specialties for which there are few schools. This is why energy firms chose Houston over New Orleans, Tulsa, Chicago, NYC, etc. It was an HR decision that was self-reinforcing. If they could actually find sufficient engineering talent locally, they'd hire them. Just think of all the bonuses that have been given not only to the new hires, but to those that referred them. They're desperate for qualified American engineers.

If they have to go to India, that really is a sacrifice. The labor may be cheap, but there are a lot of problems with going multinational. Firstly is bringing together a team of qualified persons that are presently geographically scattered (there isn't a labor market similar to Houston in India). Language, culture, travel, expats, tax implications, currency risk, law, lawlessness, war risk, and political risk come to mind at other complicating factors...I'm sure there are others.

There's very little engineering talent in India either. They bring in entry level people over there and train them, they can do that over there for pennies. They've not done that here because it's so much cheaper in India. There are plenty of people in Houston who would love to have entry level engineering jobs but they can't compete with the entry level people in India making less than our minimum wage. The entry level job I had when I got into the business is now gone, it's all in India now. I was lucky to make it in just in time. I see some signs of work like that coming back, not because we can compete with them but just so we have entry level work. They still need some people over here and without entry level positions half the workforce will be gone within a decade.

It's only within the last year that the companies over here have realized that India can't solve all their labor problems. They are finally actively looking for entry level people to train. They are losing the people in India as fast as they can replace them. The engineers in India get a couple of years experience and move to Canada for big money.

It didn't seem to be a sacrafice for us. One day the bosses just told us that we will send x amount of hours to India wether we use them or not. It seems to be a sales tool used to show clients how much money we are saving them. We gave them all the entry level work and cut our work force in half.

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If people keep stating that Houston is undesirable, or growing at a slower pace than other cities, then there must be some truth to those staements. IMO, the best way to stop people from saying these things is to have some critical analysis as to why people keep saying these things. Once you identify the reasons, then you can try to overcome them. My opinion is that the reason people keep saying these things about Houston is because there are problems which have never been addressed, because too many people walk around with a chip on their shoulder about Houston which causes them to go into instant defense and spin control mode, rather than problem solving mode. When you're so busy trying to condemn the critics and spin your way out of the criticism, you can't focus the proper attention on correcting the problems at hand. Do some people like living in Houston? . . .Of course! But that's not to say that Houston can't improve. The problem is, few people from Houston like it when a non-Houstonian points out the areas that need improvement, yet refuse to point out the problems for themselves, because they're afraid that they just might validate the critics. Get rid of the chip on your shoulder. Houston will be better for it.

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If people keep stating that Houston is undesirable, or growing at a slower pace than other cities, then there must be some truth to those staements. IMO, the best way to stop people from saying these things is to have some critical analysis as to why people keep saying these things. Once you identify the reasons, then you can try to overcome them. My opinion is that the reason people keep saying these things about Houston is because there are problems which have never been addressed, because too many people walk around with a chip on their shoulder about Houston which causes them to go into instant defense and spin control mode, rather than problem solving mode. When you're so busy trying to condemn the critics and spin your way out of the criticism, you can't focus the proper attention on correcting the problems at hand. Do some people like living in Houston? . . .Of course! But that's not to say that Houston can't improve. The problem is, few people from Houston like it when a non-Houstonian points out the areas that need improvement, yet refuse to point out the problems for themselves, because they're afraid that they just might validate the critics. Get rid of the chip on your shoulder. Houston will be better for it.

You are SO right! If all 5.5 million people in the Houston metro would just read a self-help book, the WHOLE city would be better off. We should take a vote! Should we read Dr. Phil or Jorl Osteen? Or, maybe Oprah could do a show here!

Or, maybe I'll just laugh at ridiculous posts like this one and go back to sleep. I'll leave the worrying about what the world (and former residents) think of Houston to someone else. For those whining about the weather, go to www.weather.com and type in Cleveland, OH. Then get back to me. And, for those crying about humidity, grow a pair. Sweating is good for you. Seriously. Look it up.

It's sunny and 78 degrees in February, and I'm responding to someone whining about our weather. It's days like this that I wish I could reach thru the internet and slap the s**t out of people. :angry:

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Houston's location, relative to other locations, is not the best. There are worse, and there are more that are better... and I know that... because I have traveled. =)

clear lake doesn't count. :D

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There's nothing that can be done, unless you can dig up this city and move it 200 miles west or north. Our location has us sunk (good for ships, not for people). There's a reason your big house and big yard is so cheap - because given the choice among other cities, and looking at the bigger work-life balance picture, your proximity to the nasty, humid Gulf of Mexico, people choose other places (yea, so 100K a year come here, but other 'nicer' places are growing faster - and there's a reason for it). The economics of working and residing in Houston works out well, but we're lacking in too many other departments (not to mention the weather is crappy here 50% of the time, regardless of the time of year!).

No amount of "coolness" or trying to be cool or electing politicians who would be as foolish to think they can change our image is going to change that, and I certainly wasn't advocating that position - and anyone who told me they were going to make Houston "a cool place to live," I wouldn't vote for simply because I don't believe in the principal of putting lipstick on pigs. Houston is what it is: a large, sprawling city that is a good place to work, but low on the list of places to live.

Not picking on you Bryan, but if Houston is attracting 100K new residents per year - it CAN'T be THAT low on the list of places to live. You make it sound as if that is not enuf or the reasons for people moving here are not valid or that it 'doesn't count' for some reason. Guess what, it counts. It's not about winning a contest. Would your perception change if Houston was actually growing faster than those other cities? It has grown faster than those other cities in the past (and could easily be growing faster again in the near future - if not already).

If humidity was really a deterrent to growth, then Houston would have died before it began. Houston is what it is. The humidity is not going anywhere. But the reality is, that Houston has done nothing but grown since it was founded. You can't take that away. I can't argue with the fact that SOME people move here for a job and don't like the climate, but SO WHAT? The point is they keep coming anyway for whatever reason. 100K new people decided that they could deal with frizzy hair last year. Say what you want, but Houston is NOT a prison, nobody forced 100K to move here last year. No job is worth living a place you don't like.

And anyway, as hard as it may be for you to believe, not everyone has a major problem with humidity. I can't even being to count the number of times I've heard people say that dealing with humidity is better than dealing with snow. Some people like that Houston stays green all year.

Your point seems to be that Houston will always have it's climate working against it, but so does Chicago and Dallas. Atlanta and Miami are no picnic either in the summer. I think it's just a personal preference, and that's O.K.

Edited by Mister X

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So how's the weather in boom-town Dubai?

Dubai enjoys an arid subtropical climate, with blue skies and sunshine all year round. The hottest months are between June and September, when temperatures can soar to 113

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If people keep stating that Houston is undesirable, or growing at a slower pace than other cities, then there must be some truth to those staements.

If people keep stating that Houston is desirable and growing at a faster pace than other cities, then there must be some truth to those staments too.

Remember, we are not talking about cities that are growing and cities that are not growing. We are talking about cities that are all growing at almost the same rate, with only a fraction of difference. Houston IS a fast growing city. There are plenty of things that are wrong with Houston, but growing at a slightly less faster speed than a few other cities in the country IS NOT ONE OF THEM.

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You are SO right! If all 5.5 million people in the Houston metro would just read a self-help book, the WHOLE city would be better off. We should take a vote! Should we read Dr. Phil or Jorl Osteen? Or, maybe Oprah could do a show here!

Or, maybe I'll just laugh at ridiculous posts like this one and go back to sleep. I'll leave the worrying about what the world (and former residents) think of Houston to someone else. For those whining about the weather, go to www.weather.com and type in Cleveland, OH. Then get back to me. And, for those crying about humidity, grow a pair. Sweating is good for you. Seriously. Look it up.

It's sunny and 78 degrees in February, and I'm responding to someone whining about our weather. It's days like this that I wish I could reach thru the internet and slap the s**t out of people. :angry:

I knew you'd be the first one to prove my point. IMHO, you are truly part of the problem. This is a discusssion, and everyone isn't going to share your point of view. Get over it, and stop taking this discussion so personally. Hurling insults, or otherwise attacking people who don't agree with your point of view makes you look out of control (you do this often). I don't have respect for people with little self control. . .and you're an attorney? Come on man, let's have an intelligent discussion without all of the indirect threats of physical violence that you could never make good on in the first place.

As for the topic at hand, these observations about Houston's growth and desireability compared to other cities is real. If you'd stop to take a deep breath, and take your "pro houston" hat off for a minute, then maybe you could see that a great many people believe these observations to be true. So they shouldn't be dismissed and/or diminished just because you don't like it. I don't beleive that these critiques are being made by individuals who want to belittle the municipality of Houston, or the residents in her corporate boundaries. On the flip side, I'd like to know if you can come up with one thing Houston could do to change this "undesireable" perception, or what it could do to increase its growth rate (not that Houston's gowth rate is shabby at all).

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Yes Red Scare, how can we get 200K to move to Houston next year. 100K is just not good enough. After some critical thinking I have decided that a giant humidity vacuum should be built and placed on top of Williams tower in order to suck all the humidity out of the air. Also, I have decided that every street should be torn up and every building should be torn down and rebuilt up to the sidewalks in order to trick people into thinking that Houston is Chicago. This would vastly improve our image across the nation and then people would like us.

Whatever we do, we should make it our top priority to bring more residents to Houston. This 100K figure is simply embarrassing.

Edited by Mister X

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For there to be an intelligent discussion, I would first have to agree with the premise. I don't, and I do not care what a former resident thinks. The population is increasing, job growth is still positive in a down economy, the value of my home has skyrocketed in the 4 years I have owned it, and, as previously mentioned, it is 78 degrees and sunny outside. Life is good.

If I lived in California, Detroit, Miami, Las Vegas, or Phoenix, I would be concerned about my home's value. If my self worth was tied to what residents of cities with worse schools, higher crime and empty downtowns (like Dallas) thought of Houston, I might be depressed. But, the simple fact is, I couldn't care less what a former resident thinks.

As for our humidity, I see it as a form of Darwinism. Frankly, wimps cannot handle it. The weak leave, because they do not know how to use deoderant. Perhaps this is why our esteemed poster from the north left, because his silk shirts were being ruined by his sweaty armpits. Whatever the reason, Houston is better for it. There are enough insecure people here worried whether the hip and trendy crowd think we're cool already. I think he is in his element now.

As for me, it is not my job to change close minded people's view of Houston. I really don't care. I grew up here during our period of uncontrolled growth...the subject of this thread, BTW...and we had far more problems then. Frankly, if the only thing people here have to gripe about is our humidity, or some growth problem, we're in great shape. Dallas is completely landlocked by suburban cities stealing their residents and businesses. Atlanta is mired in a drought with no plan to fix it. And BryanS is worried about humidity? Please!

As MisterX said, we have plenty of problems...growth aint one of them. Pick a real problem, and maybe I'll play along. Now, if you'll excuse me, I am going to lay in my hammock and cry about the weather. :D

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For there to be an intelligent discussion, I would first have to agree with the premise.

. . .and there lies your fundamental problem. Contrary to your belief, intelligent discussion often times incorporates many differing viewpoints. As you've (indirectly) stated, you don't care to engage in intelligent discussion on this topic, so please indulge those of us who do by refraining from the usual personal attacks. Thanks in advance.

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OK, I'll play. Let's start with you naming those who have this "undesireable" perception. It was not stated in the article. The article actually said Houston is better positioned than it has been in the past. And anyone who has read anything written about Houston in recent years can sense a huge change in perceptions of the city. In the 70s, we were oilfield yahoos. In the 80s, we were still refinery rednecks, as evidenced by 'Urban Cowboy'. In the 2000 election, we were gross polluters, ruining the nation's air. But now, we are the global oil capital...not roughnecks...executives. We are the medical center. We are the city that could organize the nation's largest relief effort in 48 hours. Frankly, Houston has never had such a good reputation.

But, like I said, I'll play along. List the articles that point out this ugly reputation. Then we can debate whether it is correct. Pardon me if I do not take a bitter ex-resident's word for it. Show us the perception, then we'll talk.

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You talk about heat and humidity but fail to mention 2 of the most poplar tourist cities in the nation (NO & Miami) having the same problem.

...I am stepping all in it today...

I just said the Gulf was humid/nasty... not that there's anything wrong with a little nasty, once in a while (I couldn't resist). I put New Orleans below Houston, location-wise and, yes, both NO and Miami have the same weather issues, to some; however, weather is one factor. There are many, many others. You have to look at the aggregate of factors, ultimately. When I say "cool" - I'm not talking about superficial aspects. I mean location, cost of living, cost of labor, services, taxes, city management, politics to some extent, etc. I personally think that our location, which we cannot change, holds us way back - it is the boat anchor.

If we could merry our same healthy local economy, affordable housing with a coveted geographic location, Houston might be #1 in growth, a world-class city - that everyone wants to live in vs. many of us who have to live here. There'd be no need for discussions like these.

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There is already no need for discussions like these. Except to kill some time.

First, we can NOT pick up and move the whole city to the mountains or the caribbean or where ever YOU deem a "coveted" geographic location. So, I don't understand what you think can be done except to spend all your time here envying out of towners. What's to discuss?

Second, I don't how you can say Houston was ever held 'way back' or will be held back by this geographic location. Somehow, despite all this area's shortcomings, mosquitos, humidity, brown water, ect. Houston went from a collection of shacks along the bayou to the 4th largest city and 6th largest metro in 150 years. And there is only a handful of other cities growing faster. But that's still not enuf I guess. Seems to me, it would be a lot easier to move to the largest city in world than to just sit here and wait for Houston to become the largest city in the world - I mean if that's where you want to live.

BTW, there's no such thing as a city where EVERYONE wants to live in. But, you can fantasize about it all you want. Nothing wrong with that.

p.s. Nobody HAS to live here. Unless they are being incarcerated or they are under some kind of parental supervision. - and even then...

Edited by Mister X

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I personally think that our location, which we cannot change, holds us way back - it is the boat anchor.

If we could merry our same healthy local economy, affordable housing with a coveted geographic location

That's a big IF. a large segment of our economy is based on our geographic location.

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The other big IF would be IF we are considered a bad geographic location. Virtually all of the world's greatest cities are located on coasts or waterways. The Port of Houston...a gigantic portion of our economy...would not exist if we were located in say, Arizona, nortwest Georgia or north Texas. We owe our entire existence to our geographic location.

Your point is lost on me.

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Your posts are always interesting and well-informed niche...

I wouldn't call the outsourcing of the engineering business a sacrifice though. I've been heavily involved with it for many years now and the one thing that drives it is cost. It is simply a tool to keep labor costs down. There is less motivation for people in the U.S. to go into businesses that are being outsourced, that causes the labor pool to shrink. Many people in the engineering business have left it because of the outsourcing, that's one of the reasons we have a shortage of talent today. I have many friends who have left to start a small business or new career, they aren't coming back now even though there is big money to be made.

I don't think there is anything we can do about this though. The economic imbalance between the U.S. and India is what causes it. The only solution is to end that imbalance. If we don't outsource then the petrochem engineering companies will just leave the U.S. altogether and go where the cheap labor is.

Ok You lost me on the last part. The Energy companies are not being stiffs when it comes to salaries, expecially now. One of the very few industries that want you to give 110% work, and actually pay you for it. Not like others where they want 110% and the very minimal cost to them, which is where outsourcing comes. But I don't see the Energy related companies packing up in droves... They're not looking for cheap labor, they're looking for good labor.

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I knew you'd be the first one to prove my point. IMHO, you are truly part of the problem. This is a discusssion, and everyone isn't going to share your point of view. Get over it, and stop taking this discussion so personally. Hurling insults, or otherwise attacking people who don't agree with your point of view makes you look out of control (you do this often). I don't have respect for people with little self control. . .and you're an attorney? Come on man, let's have an intelligent discussion without all of the indirect threats of physical violence that you could never make good on in the first place.

As for the topic at hand, these observations about Houston's growth and desireability compared to other cities is real. If you'd stop to take a deep breath, and take your "pro houston" hat off for a minute, then maybe you could see that a great many people believe these observations to be true. So they shouldn't be dismissed and/or diminished just because you don't like it. I don't beleive that these critiques are being made by individuals who want to belittle the municipality of Houston, or the residents in her corporate boundaries. On the flip side, I'd like to know if you can come up with one thing Houston could do to change this "undesireable" perception, or what it could do to increase its growth rate (not that Houston's gowth rate is shabby at all).

Geeez man, if that's not the pot calling the kettle black...

The insults were not initially thrown by Red, and as usual someone comes in here, starts making rude statements about Houston, and when someone defends the city their considered a problem. What the hell are we supposed to do, sit back and be called a pit by those who "want to discuss the issues"? Holy moley man it's human nature to defend oneself when a punch is thrown.

There are many, many times when those you critisize as "part of the problem", are the ones that bring up Houston's problems and failures. Funny that you fail to see that.

Here's a suggestion... Next time any of you want to hold an actual discussion about the success/failures in this city, please refrain from calling Houston a humid, mosquito infested, crap water, S*#T whole. You might find that the response would be much different.

Edit: Maybe I'm ignorant, but from where I'm standing Houston is doing fantastic compared to most.

Edited by Gary

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