The manufacturing sector makes up a large part of Houston’s industrial base, and its impact on the city and region in relation to employment and revenue pumped into the local economy is an important part of the city’s rapid growth in recent years. The Bayou City was ranked as being number one among the top manufacturing cities in 2013 by Manufacturers’ News, and has one of the country’s largest concentrations of industrial space, with plenty of room for expansion.
General Manufacturing Information
The Greater Houston Metropolitan Area is currently home to almost 11,000 manufacturing companies, with many of them locating their national headquarters in the city. When taken together, the various segments of the manufacturing sector employ one out of every 11 Houstonians, and account for over 237,000 jobs across the region. Due to the higher than average level of skilled labor and management jobs required in the sector, total compensation to employees averages over $18 billion per year in wages and benefits, which is well above the national average.
Top Manufacturing Segments
Perhaps the main reason for Houston’s strength and continued growth in manufacturing is the diversity of the sector. The $12 billion per year primary and fabricated metals segment of the industry currently accounts for over 30% of the manufacturing companies in the city, and employs 22% of the sector’s workers. Metal manufacturing alone accounts almost 2,000 area companies and over 67,000 workers. The heavy and light machinery segment accounts for 12% of Houston’s manufacturing companies, and almost 21% percent of the sector’s jobs. Accounting for 8% of the sector’s companies, chemical manufacturing employs almost 15% of the manufacturing workforce and, given Houston’s massive footprint in the oil and gas industry, is one of the world’s leaders in the production of petroleum based chemicals.
One of the fastest growing manufacturing segments in the Houston area, the computer, electronics, and appliances segment accounts for over 250 companies in Houston, and employs over 20,000 workers; Hewlett-Packard has a very large presence in the city, and employs more people in its manufacturing operations in Houston than anywhere else in the world. Other major manufacturing segments include wood products (furniture, paper, and printing) accounting for 13% of the sector’s companies, food and beverage (6%), plastics and rubber (4%), and transportation equipment (2%). Other various segments including construction materials, tool and die, precision instruments, and medical equipment account for another 8% of the sector’s companies.
As one of the fastest growing industry sectors in the area, the future for Houston manufacturing looks particularly bright. The improving economy, coupled with the city’s aggressive commitment to attracting new firms to the area with tax and zoning incentives, has resulted in continued growth over the last several years, and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Areas that are expected to experience particularly healthy growth include the electronics, aerospace, biomedical equipment, and still fledgling alternative energy (solar and wind) manufacturing segments.
Houston’s manufacturing industry is a vibrant, diversified part of the business community which encompasses new companies in cutting-edge fields existing side-by-side with older companies operating in more well-established segments. Individuals looking to break into manufacturing, as well as highly skilled laborers and management professionals, need look no further than Houston for the career opportunities they want.