“Houston’s Economy Will Continue to Grow, Despite 2020 Challenges”

Economic Outlook Event Recap Blog


Economic Outlook is an annual event hosted by the Partnership in which we invite expert(s) to share insights into the economy at the local, state, and federal level. On February 23, 2021 we were joined by Patrick Jankowski, Senior VP of Research at the Greater Houston Partnership discussing the effects Covid-19 had on the economy. Watch the full event video below.

Highlights included:The COVID-19 recession was worse than both the 80’s Oil Bust and the Great Recession. However, we ARE recovering. Knowing where the economy was and where it is now allows you to be prepared and plan how to move forward successfully.


  • Almost 60% of jobs have been recouped
  • However, 10 million people who were gainfully employed Feb. 2020 are still unemployed across the US


  • 350,200 jobs were lost over March & April 2020
  • More than 61% of jobs have been recouped (*as of Dec. 20)

Oil & Gas Industry:

  • March ’20, price per barrel dropped from $50.54 to $29.21, then plummeted even further in April ’20 to $16.55
  • Price per barrel needs to be above $50 to be profitable, Houston only hit that in January ‘21
  • Because of the impact of the pandemic, we likely wont see an uptick in hiring in the near future

Retail in Houston Metro area:

  • Significant drop in first few months of pandemic with a -13.7% drop in total retail sales from Q2/20 to Q2/19
  • Once retail stores adapted, they were able to resume comparable sales

Where are we now (Houston Metro)?

  • Professional, scientific, technical services, financial & insurance, utilities, transportation and warehousing, retail trade have recovered 100% pre-pandemic jobs (*although transportation & retail will likely drop in January)
  • Other industries mentioned: Educational Services (93%), Administrative and Support Services (82%), Restaurants, Bars (73%), Healthcare and Social Assistance (69%) Other Services (40%)
  • Industry sectors still struggling: Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation, & Hotels
  • Currently at 8% of labor force unemployed

2021 Outlook:

  • First half of the year is still going to be difficult
  • As more people get vaccinated and we get closer to heard immunity the second half of 2021 will look much better
    • End of Q1: Most healthcare workers are expected to be vaccinated, along with 1A and 1B
    • End of Q2: Tipping point of economy when we see “release of pent up demand” as we gain control of virus, business projects will restart and travel will start to resume

Houston will still face challenges:

  • Oil and gas industry is still oversupplied
  • Commercial real estate market is still overbuilt
  • Healthcare industry patients that lost jobs are uninsured
  • Retail in transition from brick and mortar to online along with companies restructuring and shutting down
  • Manufacturing is heavily tied to energy
  • Houston’s population growth has slowed

Three ways to help get economy back on track:

  1. Avoid crowds & super spreader events
  2. Continue to wear your masks (even after you get the vaccine)
  3. Get your shot when you are eligible. We are working toward herd immunity that will happen through inoculations.

Houston will continue to grow, despite our challenges!

If your business was affected by Winter Storm Uri, please fill out this survey so that Partnership Lake Houston can assess the needs of the community and connect them with the right resources. Survey here >> Lake Houston Business Winter Storm Disaster Recovery Assessment



Thank you to all of our sponsors for this event! Platinum sponsor: Shell Federal Credit Union; Gold sponsors: the MINT National Bank, North Houston Economic Development Center at LoneStar College Systems, MD Anderson Cancer Center and Bronze sponsor: Rokos, LLC.