Almost everyone the Fed questioned had terrible things to say about Houston’s economy

Houston skyline

Houston’s economy is cooling down.

The Texas city profited from an oil boom in the early 2010s and became the biggest contributor to growth in the world’s largest economy.

However, the downturn in energy prices is crushing Houston’s economy, especially its construction and labour markets.

The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, which contains anecdotes from business contacts across the country, had more evidence of the economic problems that Houston is facing.

This report, compiled on or before October 7 and published on Wednesday, happened to be compiled by the Dallas Fed.

On retail sales, contacts in Dallas said auto sales fell less than what was normal for that time of year, although “weakness persisted in the Houston auto market.”

The housing market did not fare better either.

“One contact described new home sales in Dallas-Fort Worth as choppy,” the Fed said, “and respondents in Houston reported continued softness.”

The apartment market was strong in the Fed’s Dallas district that includes Houston, but the Houston metro area was an exception. Demand for apartments and office space also remained weak in the area. Construction boomed in Dallas-Fort Worth, but slowed in Houston, according to the Beige Book.

In a recent note, John Burns Real Estate Consulting said Houston is the only major US city on the verge of entering the “full downturn/recession” phase of the housing-market cycle. But the firm expected the market to hold up through 2017.

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