Houston All Smiles While US Economy Sinks

Soaring oil prices keep the money and jobs flowing
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2008 6:15 PM CDT
Big oil prices, plus lots of energy know-how, are keeping Houston in the pink.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – 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."