Texas Almanac, 1988-1989 Page: 47
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GULF COAST 47
Average Annual Pay
Gulf Coast Metropolitan Areas
Beaumont-Port Arthur ........................
Galveston-Texas City ................\ ........
Corpus Christi ..............................
U.S. Metropolitan Average .................
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.
paratively diversified, non-energy oriented, locally-
controlled manufacturing base, while the Gulf Coast's
economic base is externally controlled and highly sus-
ceptible to oil price shocks and the restructuring of en-
Additional energy sector contraction in Texas is
very likely, if not a virtual certainty, given continued
pressure on oil prices and remaining overcapacity in
the state's refineries and petrochemical plants. Though
crude oil prices have trended upwards in recent
months, it seems unlikely the OPEC cartel will be able
to control prices as they did in the past. Moreover, any
agreement by OPEC is probably superfluous, since
non-OPEC producers can easily undercut the cartel
through sales in the spot market.
With respect to the processing side of the oil indus-
try, the Texas Gulf Coast should expect no relief. De-
spite plant closings and significant reductions in
throughput, the refining industry nationwide remains
characterized by overcapacity, a shrinking refined
product market and increasing foreign competition. In
fact, it is highly likely that by the end of the century the
U.S. refining industry will employ 50,000 fewer workers
than it does today, and many of those jobs will be lost in
Texas Gulf Coast
Metropolitan Area Profiles
Six metropolitan areas are found along the Texas
Gulf Coast. All of these areas in mid-1987 were posting
unemployment rates above the Texas statewide aver-
age, and severalwere witnessing a decline in the size of
the local labor force'(see Table 5). An analysis of the
economic conditions and outlook for the Texas Gulf
Coast metropolitan areas follows.
Often referred to as the "Golden Triangle" or the
"Triplex," the Beaumont-Port Arthur metropolitan
area is the second largest on the Gulf Coast. It has also
been the sl9west-growing metropolitan area in Texas
during the 1980s, According to the U.S. Bureau of the
Census, the Triplex ranked 90th in size in 1985 among
the nation's 317 statistically defined metropolitan areas
with a population of 381,400. In 1980, it ranked 88th in the
The industrial structure of the Beaumont-Port Ar-
thur area is quite different from the state as a whole.
Perhaps more than any other part of the state, heavy
industry dominates the Golden Triangle. Manufactur-
ing, construction and the transportation-communica-
tions-public utilities sectors account for 32 percent of
the lobs in the area. By contrast, these sectors account
for only 25 percent of total payroll employment
statewide. Conversely, Beaumont-Port Arthur is sig-
nificantly underrepresented in mining, finance-insur-
ance-real estate, and government employment.
1984 1985 - 1984-85
$20,194 s20,349 0.8%
22,188 22,938 3.4
19,126 19,321 1.0
17,513 17,804 1.7
17,741 18,387 3.6
21,922 22,569 2.9
18,934 19,816" 4.7
At present, there are about 250 manufacturing
firms located in the Golden Triangle. Though compan-
ies such as Texaco, Mobil and Gulf States Utilities domi-
nate the region, 70 percent of the manufacturing estab-
lishments in the Triplex employ fewer than 50
employees. Fabricated metal products and non-electri-
cal machinery, typically small operations, are the most
numerous industrial establishments in the area. Elec-
tronics, aerospace and other high-tech sectors are vir-
The Golden Triangle has consistently posted the
highest unemployment rate on the Gulf Coast for the
past five years, due to its heavy dependence on petro-
chemicals and related industries. In recent years, the
labor force has contracted, suggesting people are leav-
ing the area in search of job opportunities elsewhere.
On the plus side, workers in the Golden Triangle are
typically well-paid, and both per-capita and median
family income exceed the national norms. Retail sales
also remain fairlystrong.
The outlook for Beaumont-Port Arthur is less than
rosy, and no substantial pickup can be anticipated until
oil prices recover or the local economy diversifies. The
area's refiners and chemical plants are unlikely to add
employment, and the 75 percent drop in the rig cott
has caused the demand for machinery, pipe and oil
field services to dry up. Other major industries in he
Golden Triangle, such as steel, rubber and shipbuId-
ing, are also in secular decline.
Houston is the largest metropolitan area on the Gulf
Coast, with a current population of more than 3 million.
Houston can rightly be called Energy City, U.S.A., nd
herein lies the explanation for its former strength bhd
its current weakness.
Houston's population gains during the 1970s Pnd
early 1980s were remarkable. Growth between 1970 and
1980 averaged 3.7 percent annually, and between 1980
and 1982 Houston's population grew by an incredible 12
percent. Since 1982, however, population growth has
slowed considerably. In fact, during 1986 the area's pop-
ulation actually dropped 1.6 percent. Migration has ac-
counted for a large part of Houston's growth and de-
cline over the past decade. As recently as 1982, Houston
recorded net in-migration of 150,000 persons. A short
four years later, in 1986, the Houston area recorded net
out-migration of 94,000.
Job growth in Houston also was remarkable from
the early 1970s through the early 1980s. From 1970 to
1980, nonagricultural employment in Houston grew at
an average annual rate of 8.9 percent, faster than that
recorded in any other large U.S. city. Between 1980 and
1984, however, job growth averaged a mere 0.6 percent
per annum, slightly below the national and state aver-
ages. For the past three years, employment growth has
Change in Refineries and Refining Capacity in Texas
1 980-85 and 1975-1980
Total Total Total Percent Percent
Active Active Active Capacity Capacity Capacity Chg. in Chg. in
Refineries Refineries Refineries 1985 1980 1975 Capacity Capacity
1985 1980 1975 (B/CD) (B/CD) (B/CD) 1980-1985 1975-1980
35 56 45 3,936,124 4,878,875 3,929,430 -19.3% 19.2%
Source: U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration.
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Texas Almanac, 1988-1989, book, 1987; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth113819/m1/50/: accessed November 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.