Job openings in Texas reached an all-time high in February at 932,000, far exceeding unemployment (about 635,000 at present). While that's beneficial for those looking for work, it's presenting notable challenges. Businesses unable to fill positions are often forced to respond by reducing operating hours or even closing locations, and the economy is functioning at less-than-optimal efficiency.
The number of oil and natural gas drilling permits issued by the Texas Railroad Commission reached an all-time high in March, at over 1,100. Hundreds of companies of all sizes are jumping into the fray. Activity is picking up across the state, with the Permian Basin reportedly seeing over 900 horizontal permits.
The recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia is generating questions regarding how important Russia is to the Texas economy, particularly as policies restricting trade and investment interactions are contemplated. The short answer: not very.
The past two years have been difficult, but the path forward is encouraging! Many parts of Texas have now reached or exceeded pre-pandemic employment levels, and unless a new and dangerous variant emerges, we may finally be able to put the worst of COVID-19 behind us. In fact, Texas is now more than 200,000 jobs ahead of its pre-pandemic peak. Supply-chain issues, worker shortages, and other challenges are likely to linger over the coming months, slowing the rate of expansion to some extent in the short term. Nevertheless, the outlook for the state remains highly favorable, and the momentum is palpable.
Since the beginnings of people living in social groups millennia ago, goods have been exchanged in some form. Through imports and exports, consumer choice improves, prices are reduced, business opportunities escalate, and economies grow. The essential mathematics explaining the process were worked out in the early 1800s. Pandemic-induced supply chain snarls have illustrated the interconnectedness of the contemporary world and just how much consumers rely on a steady stream of imports.
Recently, there has been much focus on the "petrodollar" and whether it will continue as the currency of choice in the oil market. China and Saudi Arabia have discussed shifting away from it, a move that some worry will end the dollar's dominance in world markets; others seem to think it would be the end of life as know it. Let me put your mind at ease.
Gasoline prices have soared, topping $4 per gallon in most areas. The increase has been rapid, and with inflation in almost everything else in family budgets, the additional costs are difficult to absorb. They are also very visible; we see the signs constantly.
Texas has won the "Governor's Cup" – for the tenth consecutive time! Site Selection magazine awards the Cup to the state with the most major corporate locations and expansions each year. To be counted, projects must involve a capital investment of at least $1 million, 20 or more new jobs, or 20,000 square feet of new construction.
Oil prices are touching an altitude not seen since the spike in summer 2008, pushing gasoline prices into uncharted territory and raising other costs in their wake. The situation in Ukraine and efforts by financial markets to predict it are driving the immediate spurt in prices, but even before Russia invaded, prices were trending upward as the global economy rebounded from COVID-19 and demand rose faster than supply.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine is ongoing, and it is impossible to know at this point how it will play out in terms of duration or magnitude. While any such aggression causing loss of life and freedom is first and foremost a humanitarian tragedy, it also brings economic fallout.