Texas Almanac, 1988-1989 Page: 48
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48 TEXAS ALMANAC 1988-1989
been negative, resulting in the loss of about 168,000 pay-
roll jobs. While average wages and per-capita Income
remain high in Houston, the region has suffered consid-
erable losses in total income and purchasing power in
In large part, Houston's industrial mix accounts for
the recent pattern of lob losses. The bulk of these losses,
not surprisingly, is to be found in the area's'once-boom-
ing energy sector, which encompasses a number of
manufacturing industries and also greatly influences
contract construction. Since 1980, approximately 93,000
manufacturing lobs have disappeared from the Hous-
ton area, or 38.6 percent of the industrial employment
base. (During the 1970s, by contrast, Houston gained
manufacturing employment at the rate of 7.1 percent
per year.) In fact, Houston has lost manufacturing jobs
more rapidly over the past seven years than either the
nation or the state of Texas, a characteristic shared by
most other Gulf Coast metropolitan areas.
Currently, there are about 3,000 manufacturing'
firms in Houston, Despite the prevalence of heavy in-
dustry in the area, only 23 firms employ more than 1,000
workers. Seventy-three percent of the manufacturing
establishments in Houston employ less than 50"
Though the past few years have been difficult ones
for Houston, the worst may be over. Between mid-1986
and mid-1987, net out-migration from Houston has
slowed and should reach only 38,000 in 1987. The number
of unemployed persons itnHouston has also-declined
over the past year, although this drop can be partly
explained by out-migration. As with most other Gulf
Coastareas, Houston's labor force has been contracting
for the pasttwo years.
- Greater Houston is an Integral part of a larger, en-
ergy-based regional economy experiencing major
structural change. Through the changes in Houston's
manufacturing employment base 'that have occurred
over the past seven years, the area's economy is being
permanently transformed. Economic diversification is
being achieved, but the diversity has come about pri-
marily by contraction. The major challenge to Hous-
ton's economic development community in the years
ahead will be to revitalize the area's manufacturing
sector so that growth in non-industrial sectors may be
The Galveston-Texas City metropolitanarea, with a
population of 213,400 in 1985, is really an economic sub-
sidiary of Greater Houston. Not only is it contiguous to
Houston, but its industrial structure is quite similar to
that of Houston, especially the Texas City portion. And,
like Houston, Galveston-Texas City has suffered from
the fallout of lower oil prices in recent years.
In relative terms, Galveston-Texas City's job losses
haven't been as severe as those in Houston, probably
due to the positive influence of non-energy related em-
ployment on Galveston Island. Though traffic through
the Port of Galveston has been depressed, the conven-
tion and tourism business has remained relatively
strong. Galveston is also home to a medical school and a
malor complex of hospitals and other medical-care fa-
cilities that employ thousands of island and mainland
The economic outlook for the Galveston-Texas City
metropolitan area is uncertain. Areal-estate boom that
was underway in 1986 has collapsed, and local refineries
and chemical plants continue to cut back. But Galves-
ton's port and recreational facilities should prove to be
significant assets over the long term, especially if casi-
no gambling is eventually approved.
Brazoria is also part of the Greater Houston conur-
bation. With a population of 188,000, it is the second-
smallest metropolitan area on the Texas Gulf Coast.
Located south of the city of Houston and west of Galves-
ton, Brazoria is predominantly rural despite its metro-
politan designation. The largest city in Brazoria County
is Lake Jackson, with a population of 20,000. Alvin, the
second largest city at 18,000, is actually a suburb of
Brazoria's major industries are refining, petro-
chemicals and oil-field equipment. As isthe case in oth-
er parts of the state, these industries have been con-
tracting for several years. But in recent months, ener-
gy-related employment has stablized, and the
unemployment rate has dropped somewhat.
An economic rebound for Brazoria will be contin-
gent upon a recovery of oil prices and increased rice
exports. In this vein, American Rice is adding 300 per-
manent lobs to a new rice-processing facility.
Victoria is the smallest metropolitan area in Texas,
with a 1985 population of 75,500. The City of Victoria
comprises about two-thirds of. the county population.
Population growth has occurred at a modest pace since
1970, and Victoria has been the least affected among the
Texas Gulf Coast metropolitan areas by the collapse in
the energy sector. Though employment in the region's
petrochemical facilities has contracted in recent years,
overall employment has continued to grow.
Income growth in Victoria has also been quite re-
spectable. In 1983, the latest year for which substate
data are available, per-capita Income in Victoria was
59,398-ust slightly below the Texas average of 59,443.
Recently, cogeneration construction projects have
added several hundred lobs to the region's economy,
though not enough to overcome the job losses in refin-
ing and petrochemicals. Victorians are currently at-
tempting to diversify their economy by nurturing
promising small companies rather than luring large in-
dustries to the region.
Located 320 miles southwest of Orange, Corpus
Christi has the most diversified economy among the six
Texas Gulf Coast metropolitan areas. With a 1985 popu-
lation of 358,800, Corpus Christi isthe 97th-largest urban
area in the United States, up from 99th in 1980. Corpus
Christi is the only area on the Gulf Coast still attracting
migrants from other regions. Though the unemploy-
ment rate has risen slightly over the past year, the resi-
dent labor force and total employment continue to grow.
Corpus Christi differs from the rest of the Gulf
Coast in that only 13 percent of its employment basawas
centered in manufacturing in 1980. By contrast, 17 per-
cent of Houston's jobs and 26 percent of Beaumont-Port
Arthur's lobs were concentrated in the manufacturing
sector. Consequently, the drastic drop in energy-relat-
ed manufacturing employment that occurred between
1980 and 1987 did not disrupt the Corpus Christi econo-
my to the same degree as the upper Gulf Coast. "
Agriculture, food processing, tourism and a large
military presence also'help to insulate Corpus Christi
from the vicissitudes of the energy cycle and augur well
for the future. Over the next few years, millions of fed-
eral dollars will pour into Nueces County to construct a
new "home port" for the U.S.S. Wisconsin and various
Labor Force and Unemployment Rates
Texas Gulf Coast
March 1987 vs. March 1986
Unemployment Rates Labor Force
3/87 3/86 3/87 3/86
Beaumont-Port Arthur .......... 12.2% 14.6% 157,700 161,900
Houston .................. ..... 9.0 9.3 1,570,700 1,606,000
Galveston-Texas City ......... 10.3 10.9 104,300 106,600
Victoria .................... 9.1 9.1 37,500 37,400
CorpusClf'risti ............... 11.3 10.9 165,400 162,500
Brazoria. .................... 9.3 10.3 79,300 80,000
State of Texas ................ 8.2 8.4 8,106,800 8,024,800
Source: Texas Employment Commission.
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Texas Almanac, 1988-1989, book, 1987; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth113819/m1/51/: accessed February 16, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.