The North Texas economy is showing robust growth supported by three pillars: energy, organic growth and links to the broader U.S. and global economies. Labor markets continue to show strong expansion. Year-over-year payroll job growth of 3.2 percent for the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan statistical area was well above the national average of 1.7 percent in October. Likewise, the metro area unemployment rate of 6.0 percent in October was well below the national average of 7.3 percent for the month. Payroll employment now stands at 3.15 million jobs, which is 5.4 percent above the pre-recession peak of 2.99 million jobs from May of 2006.
Oil prices have ticked up at year-end after easing from an early September high of $106/barrel for West Texas intermediate crude to an early December low of $92/barrel. Prospects for a moderate improvement in global economic growth in 2014 have supported an increase in the price for WTI to about $97/barrel as of mid-December. Our outlook for WTI for 2014 calls for stable pricing in the vicinity of $95/barrel. An early cold snap this winter has boosted natural gas prices to over $4 per MMBTU for the first time since last Spring.
In an example of strong organic growth, North Texas healthcare-related construction is booming. Beyond the monumental $1.3 billion Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, other projects are spread throughout the region. According to the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council, hospitals in North Texas account for 265,000 jobs and generate $14.4 billion in income for healthcare workers. Global links to North Texas are strengthened by the American Airlines/US Airways merger, finalized on December 9, as American emerged from bankruptcy protection. Dallas-based Southwest Airlines also benefitted from the merger, picking up 22 slots at New York’s LaGuardia Airport.
Click here for the complete North Texas MSA Regional Economic Update: NorthTexas 2013Q3.