Job Recovery in the Nation’s Oil-Dependent Apartment Markets

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Increasing oil and gas demand has become a tailwind for energy-related economies recently, after the COVID-19 pandemic severely impacted that sector throughout most of 2021. Midland/Odessa is one of the nation’s least recovered job markets (after Urban Honolulu and New Orleans), with a June employment count that remained 6.6% behind the pre-pandemic level from February 2020. However, that market has made significant strides of late. In the year-ending June 2022, Midland/Odessa ranked #10 nationally with a 6.3% job gain. Houston has also seen a vast improvement in its labor market recently. Houston, the nation’s 4th largest apartment market, ranked #7 nationally with job growth of 6.5% in the year-ending June. Those gains took Houston’s employment base 2.2% above the pre-pandemic level. For comparison, nearby markets with more diverse economies – like Dallas and Austin – have seen much stronger comebacks, with employment growth of roughly 9% since February 2020. Meanwhile, oil-dependent Oklahoma markets lagged their Texas counterparts. Oklahoma City has recovered all the jobs lost during the pandemic, but recovery has been relatively mild, with a job count just 1% higher than the pre-pandemic level. In the year-ending June, that market saw job growth of 3.9%, trailing the U.S. average of 4.2% growth. The job market in Tulsa finally reached a full recovery in June, but Tulsa’s annual job growth of 3.4% also trailed the national average.