Te Houston Business-Cycle index rose nearly 4 per-cent in December, implying aster economic growth inthe region. Energy-related activities, construction andinternational trade continue to propel growth. Regulatory uncertainty, the U.S. scal situation and stresses in theglobal economy cloud the horizon, but undamentals inmany area industries were rmer than in much o 2012.
Oil prices were up in January but remained volatile.Continued pipeline bottlenecks in Cushing, Okla., arekeeping the price o West exas Intermediate crude low compared with Brent and other oil prices, although theaverage dierence ell to $18.63 in January. Natural gasprices dropped slightly to $3.34 per Mc in January. Fuelprices rose, due in part to seasonal actors and higheroil prices. Natural gas inventories remained seasonally high but ell below year-ago levels or the rst time sinceNovember.
Houston payroll employment grew 1.5 percent inDecember and 3.6 percent through 2012. Only 1997,1998, 2005 and 2006 had greater annual growth rates thepast 20 years. Construction, manuacturing, and proes-sional and business services led employment growth inDecember.
Te Houston unemployment rate rose two-tenths o apercent to 6.2 percent in December as estimates showedthe local labor orce declined slightly. Te U.S. held at 7.8percent. Te Conerence Board’s Help Wanted OnLineindex or Houston indicated the number o job advertise-ments in the area jumped 11.2 percent in December, thesecond-largest monthly increase in a year in which theaverage change was 2.7 percent.
Economic ActivityEnergy PricesEmployment
FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF DALLAS • FEBRUARY 2013
250260270280290300310Dec-2008 Dec-2009 Dec-2010 Dec-2011 Dec-2012
188.8.131.52-10.4-0.3-7.55.05.80.06.2-4.8TotalConstruction & miningEducational & health servicesFinancial activitiesGovernmentInformationLeisure & hospitalityManufacturingOther servicesProfessional & business svcTrade, transp & utilities
Index, October 1980 = 100Percent change
Houston Business-Cycle IndexChange in Energy Spot Prices, December to JanuaryDecember Employment Growth
NOTE: Figures are seasonally adjusted, annualized monthly growth rates.*Henry Hub natural gas spot price.NOTE: Prices listed are one-month averages.Gasoline$2.63/galDiesel$3.02/galJet fuel$3.06/galHHNG*$3.34/McfWTI$93.49/bblBrent$112.19/bbl