Oil prices are crippling most American budgets, but folks are just fine in Houston—where unemployment sits at 3.8% and luxury jewelry stores and restaurants are jammed with customers. Oil refineries aren't fueling business, either: It's know-how, Daniel Gross writes in Slate. "It's the knowledge that has concentrated here that is driving things," Mayor Bill White explains.
In fact, little oil and gas production occurs near Houston. But consulting geologists, software developers, and white-collar oil execs bank big bucks. Green energy businesses are also booming as the city's population grows. But it's not all about oil and windmills. "We're really diversified," a local JP Morgan Chase exec said. "We're only 50 percent dependent on energy."