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Houston Economy
 
 
 

Houston is recognised worldwide for its energy industry – particularly for oil and natural gas – as well as for biomedical research and aeronautics. The ship channel is also a large part of Houston's economic base. Because of these strengths, Houston is designated as a gamma world city by the Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network.

Five of the six supermajor energy companies maintain a large base of operations in Houston (international headquarters of ConocoPhillips; US operational headquarters of Exxon-Mobil; US headquarters for international companies Shell Oil (US subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell located in The Hague, Netherlands), and BP (whose international headquarters are in London, England). Specifically, the headquarters of Shell Oil Company, the US affiliate of Royal Dutch Shell, is located at One Shell Plaza. While Exxon-Mobil maintains its small, global headquarters in Irving, Texas, its upstream and chemical divisions as well as most operational divisions, are located in Houston. Chevron has offices in Houston, having acquired a 40 story building intended to be the headquarters of Enron. The company's Chevron Pipe Line Company subsidiary is headquartered in Houston, and more divisions are being consolidated and moved to Houston each year. Houston is headquarters for the Marathon Oil Corporation, Apache Corporation and Citgo.

Greater Houston is a leading centre for building oilfield equipment. Much of Houston's success as a petrochemical complex is due to its busy man-made ship channel, the Port of Houston. The port ranks first in the United States in international commerce, and is the tenth-largest port in the world. Unlike most places, where high oil and gasoline prices are seen as harmful to the economy, they are generally seen as beneficial for Houston as many are employed in the energy industry.

The Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown MSA's Gross Area Product (GAP) in 2006 was $325.5 billion, slightly larger than Austria’s, Poland’s or Saudi Arabia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). When comparing Houston's economy to a national economy, only 21 countries other than the US have a gross domestic product exceeding Houston's regional gross area product. Mining, which in Houston is almost entirely exploration and production of oil and gas, accounts for 11% of Houston's GAP; this is down from 21% in 1985. The reduced role of oil and gas in Houston's GAP reflects the rapid growth of other sectors, such as engineering services, health services and manufacturing.

Houston ranks second in employment growth rate and fourth in nominal employment growth among the 10 most populous metro areas in the US. The unemployment rate in the city was 3.8% in April 2008, the lowest level in eight years while the job growth rate was 2.8%.

In 2006, the Houston metropolitan area ranked first in Texas and third in the US within the category of "Best Places for Business and Careers" by Forbes magazine. 40 foreign governments maintain trade and commercial offices here and the city has 23 active foreign chambers of commerce and trade associations. 20 foreign banks representing 10 nations operate in Houston, providing financial assistance to the international community.

In 2008, Houston received top ranking on Kiplinger's Personal Finance Best Cities of 2008 list which ranks cities on their local economy, employment opportunities, reasonable living costs and quality of life. The city ranked fourth for highest increase in the local technological innovation over the preceding 15 years, according to Forbes magazine. In the same year, the city ranked second on the annual Fortune 500 list of company headquarters, and ranked first for Forbes "Best Cities for College Graduates”.

 

 
 

 



 


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