As the biggest city in the state where "everything's bigger", Houston has a high standard to live up to. Being home to the largest medical centre in the world, twenty-two Fortune 500 companies (the second most of any city in the country), and NASA's famous Mission Control Center, Houston has no problems with more than matching that high standard.
Houston's early economy was driven largely by the city's standing as Texas' main railroad hub, and this source of commerce was later bolstered both by the discovery of oil in 1901 and the construction of the Port of Houston, opened in 1914. During World War II, Houston became a substantial source of manufacturing, training, and shipbuilding for the war effort. The infrastructure for shipbuilding which was developed during this time continued to substantially contribute to the city's economy for decades following the war. In the mid 20th century, Houston saw the development of the renowned Texas Medical Center, the famous Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, and the impressive Houston Astrodome (also known as the "Eighth Wonder of the World").
Over the last few decades, Houston has diversified its economy by expanding its representation of the aerospace, healthcare, and biotechnology industries. The city is also home to many entertainment complexes and to a vibrant culture scene, including the second-highest concentration of theater seats of any downtown area in the entire country.
- Number 1 job creating city in 2013, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Number 1 on Kiplinger's 2008 "Best Cities to Live, Work and Play" list.
- Second most Fortune 500 companies of any city in the US, as of 2011.
- Number 3 on Forbes' 2013 list of "Best Places For Job Growth".
- Number 5 on Newgeography's 2013 list of "Best Cities for Job Growth".
- Number 6 on CareerBliss' list of "10 Happiest Cities to Work in 2014".
- Number 7 for "Job Growth" on Forbes' 2013 "Best Places For Business and Careers" list.
- Number 9 on U.S. News & World Report's 2013 list of "10 Best Cities to Find Jobs".
- Number 18 on NerdWallet's 2014 list of "Best Cities for Job Seekers".
- Number 22 on Businessweek.com's 2012 list of "America's 50 Best Cities".
Major Industries and Employers
Houston is home to a huge energy industry, primarily in oil and natural gas, but with renewable energy sources also playing a growing role. The city is also among the foremost constructers of oilfield equipment.
Aeronautics, biomedical research, leisure, hospitality, and business services are also large industries in Houston. Education is another substantial sector of the city's economy. The University of Houston System provides substantial economic benefit, generating 24,000 local jobs and attracting $1.1 billion per year in funding to the area.
The Port of Houston is the United States' top port for foreign trade, and accounts for much of the city's employment, as well as much of the city's success as a center for international commerce. Houston hosts no less than twenty-two Fortune 500 companies, including Phillips 66, ConocoPhillips, Enterprise Products Partners, and Halliburton.
Houston's 2012 population was 2.16 million, with the median age being 32.3. 596,552 residents were born overseas, and 88,567 are veterans (as defined by the US Census Bureau).
The city's rate of high school graduation is substantially below that of the nation, although its rate of bachelor's degree attainment is roughly equal to that of the nation. Of the residents 25 years old or older, 74.8% have at least graduated high school and 28.7% have achieved a bachelor's degree or higher, whereas the national rates are 85.7% and 28.5%, respectively.
Houston's homeownership rate (45.9%) is substantially below both the Texas as a whole (63.9%) and the nation as a whole (65.5%). The mean per capita income is $27,029, roughly on par with that of the nation as a whole ($28,051). 22.2% of residents live below the poverty level (the national rate is 15%). However, the unemployment rate of Houston is 5.4%, which is a significant improvement over the national rate (6.7%).
Houston is an economic powerhouse, with world renown in several industries, particularly energy. As a result, it leads the nation in job creation, and has a significantly lower unemployment rate than the national average. Additionally, the city has a strong and growing presence in areas such as health care, biomedical research, aeronautics, and education.
However, the city's poverty, homeownership, and high school graduation rates are somewhat discouraging. Still, Houston boasts a thriving economy and is among the most dependable cities in the entire US for job seekers, most especially those drawn to the energy industry.