SUSIE GHARIB: There’s one American city that doesn’t mind high oil prices,
it’s Houston. The oil capital of the U.S. has been on a hiring frenzy in
recent months, thanks to healthy profits at petroleum producers.
Diane Eastabrook reports, while much of the U.S. is still struggling
out of the recent recession, Houston is firing on nearly all cylinders.
DIANE EASTABROOK, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: At the Port
of Houston, Chinese steel is offloaded from a ship at one end, while 1,300
German cars disembark at the other. Two hundred twenty million tons of
cargo moved in and out of the port last year, making it the busiest one in
the nation. From dockside to downtown, Houston’s economy is humming. Rising
petroleum prices are part of the reason this city, home to big oil, is on a
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I took a ruler and laid it across here, or a
level, you’d see we actually employ more people now than we did prior to
EASTABROOK: Economist Patrick Jankowski from the Greater Houston
Partnership shows how resilient Houston’s economy was during the recent
recession. He says when crude tops $80 a barrel, as it has the past couple
of years, oil companies add jobs. But petroleum isn’t the only energy source creating jobs. The
nation’s gargantuan supply of natural gas is making it cheaper to make
everything from glass to plastic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last time I heard, there were companies looking at
maybe 10, 12 projects that were going to be built somewhere on the Gulf
Coast between Lafayette, Louisiana, going all the way south to Corpus
Now, maybe not all 10 or 12 of those are going to get built, but a
substantial number will be built. They are going to be drawing that
EASTABROOK: Within the next month, this will be an assembly line
where 50 workers will be putting together LED lights. NEUTEX Lighting is
just one company capitalizing on Houston’s booming economy and cheap
natural gas. John Higgins, president and CEO of NEUTEX’s Advanced Energy
Group, says moving production up the lines from China to Texas was a no-
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our powder-coating machines use the natural gas.
Because of the cheap pricing, it allowed us to offer this to our clients at
a much cheaper price than we could have ever done in any of our locations,
in Helsinki or Finland or Macedonia, or even China.
The natural gas that we get here, and the volume that we get here, and
the volume that we can get here allows us to basically offer that product
almost for free.
EASTABROOK: Last year, Houston added 75,000 jobs. The Greater
Houston Partnership thinks it will add another 84,000 this year. And that
could make Houston the shining star in the Lone Star State. Diane Eastabrook, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Houston.