Secret from 017: Analyzing Your Local Economy

Jenny Philip, Director of Research at the Greater Houston Partnership, shared with Economic Development Secrets listeners how her team analyzes their local economy and what outlets they use to collect the necessary research.

We analyze a multitude of indicators. This can be anything from employment to oil prices, rig counts, gas prices, retail sales, commercial real estate, residential real estate, [or] vehicle sales – anything that gives us a pulse on the economy.

We’re very selective on the sources that we do pay for but a lot of it is publicly available information from the Census, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis, as well as relationships that we’ve built with data collectors in the region. For example, vehicle sales or apartment trends. We have a group called the Economic Analysis Panel and we meet and discuss what’s happening within [a certain] industry. [The meeting] provides the partnerships research team an understanding of all these various elements and how they interplay. Some are leading indicators, some are lagging indicators. When we have energy industry experts discussing what’s happening there, that’s more of a leading indicator for us. Then we have a commercial real estate representative talking, that’s more of a lagging indicator.

Depending on the report of that representative we have an idea what will be happening two or three months down the line in the Houston region, and then how that trickles down and impacts commercial real estate or residential real estate. It’s interesting to hear the different reports and then continuing to build these relationships and it’s symbiotic. It’s all in the support of helping the larger community in understanding what’s happening in the Houston economy.

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