Subscribe to Our Research Content

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Commercial Real Estate Soundbytes A by the numbers bulletin - Greater Houston Partnership - State of Houston's Global Economy

Download the PDF


Amy Chronis Managing Partner, Deloitte
Brenda Mainwaring Vice President, Public Affairs, Union Pacific Railroad Company
Jason Stevens President and Chief Executive Officer, Mitsubishi International Corporation

Patrick Jankowski Senior Vice President, Research and Regional Economist, Greater Houston Partnership

Jack Fusco President and CEO, Cheniere Energy

Global Houston Highlights

  1. Houston has led the nation in metro exports nine out of the past 10 years. The region exports more oil field services, refined products, chemicals and fabricated metals overseas than any other metro. Approximately 17.3% of Houston’s economy is tied to exports, nearly double the percentage in 2003, according to the latest data from the Brookings Institution.
  2. More than 2,500 Houston manufacturing firms engage in global trade: sourcing materials from overseas, selling their products abroad, or both.
  3. Foreign direct investment in Houston is on the rise. Over the past 10 years, at least 517 foreign-owned companies have announced plans to invest in Houston through 659 different deals. In less than half of these deals was the value of investment made public. The aggregate total of the disclosed investment is over $33 billion. Foreign investments in Houston have come from 36 different countries and cover 63 different industries in the last decade.
  4. Close to one in four residents—more than 1.6 million people—in the Houston region was born outside of the United States. Houston’s foreign-born population grew by nearly 390,000 residents from 2008 to 2017, accounting for one-third of the region’s population growth over the period. The Partnership estimates that foreign-born workers contributed $142.1 billion to Houston’s GDP in 2017, 29% of the total.

Key Statistics

  1. The Houston/Galveston Customs District ranked first in the nation in foreign tonnage handled and 7th in the nation by dollar value in 2018.
  2. The Houston/Galveston Customs District handled 289.2 million tons of cargo in 2018, or 33,000 metric tons every hour.
  3. Houston area ports—Houston, Galveston and Freeport—support 343,525 local jobs. This includes 98,497 direct jobs that are associated with moving cargo via the marine terminals, 77,861 indirect jobs that are with firms that provide goods and services to the firms moving the cargo, and 167,167 induced jobs that are generated when those holding direct and indirect jobs spend their paychecks in the local economy. That links to one in every nine jobs in the region.
  4. Latin America leads among regions of origin for Houston’s foreign-born population with 1.02 million people in 2017, up 42% from 2008. Asia follows at 409,395, up 37% and Africa with 95,017, a 14% increase.

Top 5 Houston trade partners and the value of trade in 2018

  1. Mexico – $24.6 billion, up from $20.1 billion in 2017
  2. China – $20.3 billion, up from $18.8 billion in 2017
  3. Brazil – $12.9 billion, up from $12.6 billion in 2017
  4. The Netherlands – $10.4 billion, up from $8.6 billion in 2017
  5. South Korea – $10.3 billion, up from $6.8 billion in 2017

Leta Wauson
Director of Research
tel 713 275 9618

We Want to Hear From You

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.