Employment Outlook: Houston

Employment Outlook , United States Nov 18, 2022 No Comments

One of the largest cities in the US, Houston, Texas, is experiencing economic and population growth and hiring across multiple job sectors.

Houston is the US’s fourth-largest city and the largest city in the US Southwest, with a population of 2.3 million. As the ‘Energy Capital of the World,’ it employs nearly a third of the nation’s jobs in oil and gas extraction; therefore, the region’s financial health hinges on the price of oil and gas. The city is the key center for the international oil and gas exploration and production industry and for many of the nation’s largest international engineering and construction firms.

The region’s employment has returned to pre-pandemic levels, and the metro area added 159,700 jobs over the last year.

The Houston-Woodlands-Sugar Land Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) consists of nine counties: Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery and Waller. Residents enjoy the advantages of a temperate climate, no state income tax and relatively low cost of housing. The region has the second-lowest overall cost of living among the nation’s 20 most populous metropolitan areas.

Its population is growing. The metro area’s population stands at more than 7.1 million. According to the Greater Houston Partnership, the region will have more than 10 million residents by 2040.

Houston is regarded as the nation’s most diverse region. Its residents speak more than 145 different languages and nearly one in four was born outside the US. There are more than 1.64 million foreign-born people in the metro area, and of those, 71.8% entered the US before 2010. Among the foreign-born population, about 62.4% are from Latin America, 25.5% from Asia, 6.9% from Africa and 4.0% from Europe. The remainder comes from other parts of the world.

Key Industries

Houston is world-renowned for its aerospace and healthcare innovations. In addition, the city has strong construction, education, international trade, and technology industries. With its massive port and brisk international trade, the city is an economic juggernaut.

As the nation’s leading domestic and international center for virtually every segment of the energy industry, it derives nearly 8% of its total employment from the energy sector.

Twenty-four companies headquartered in Metro Houston are on the Fortune 500 list, ranking the region third nationwide in Fortune 500 companies. Metro Houston is also home to 43 Fortune 1000 companies. The top five local Fortune 500 companies are:

  • Phillips 66
  • Sysco
  • ConocoPhillips
  • Plains GP Holdings
  • Enterprise Products Partners

The largest employers in Houston:

(More than 20,000 employees)
Houston Methodist
Memorial Hermann Health System
UT MD Anderson Cancer Center

(10,000 to 19,999 employees)
HCA Houston Healthcare
Shell Oil Co.
Texas Children’s Hospital
United Airlines
UT Health Science Center
UT Medical Branch Health System
Wood Group

Areas of Job Promise

Metro Houston’s workforce has grown to more than 3.26 million workers, after losing more than 350,000 jobs during the pandemic shutdown. The current unemployment rate in Houston is at 4.3%, higher than the national average.

The metro area gained 169,700 jobs over the last year, or 5.6%, compared to the national increase of 4.6% during that period. Here are the sectors that accounted for the largest numbers of job gains over the last year:

  • Trade, transportation and utilities
  • Leisure and hospitality
  • Education and health services
  • Professional and business services
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing

Houston’s economy is resilient. Over the last decade, the region has bounced back from the pandemic shutdown, the Great Recession and from the worst oil recession in a generation, the 2014 to 2016 slump that caused a loss of more than 86,000 oil and gas jobs. However, growth in other sectors helped offset the job losses.

The Greater Houston Partnership predicts that the region will create more than 75,000 jobs in the coming year, with growth in every sector of the economy. It expects that the greatest gains will come in administrative support and waste management; government; health care and social assistance; and professional, scientific and technical assistance.


Houston’s annual wage growth was in the medium range among the 15 largest metropolitan areas in the United States during the past year; wages rose by 5.2% over the last 12 months. By comparison, wages and salaries increased an average of 4.8% nationwide over the same period. The average annual salary in the metro area is 57,790 USD, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

By Mary Anne Thompson, founder, and president, of GoinGlobal, Inc.

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Access to GoinGlobal’s resource database is provided through subscribing institutions. Contact your school’s career center or library for access instructions. Login to your GoinGlobal account here.


Mary Anne Thompson

Mary Anne Thompson founded GoinGlobal, Inc. more than two decades ago as a result of her own experiences job hunting in Sweden. She believes that to uncover the real job opportunities, you need the experience and personal insights of trained local specialists. Mary Anne continues to be an active CEO who shares her strategies and insights directly with clients to help them strategically maximize GoinGlobal’s unique resources.