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Houston to lead large metros in growth rate

Among the nation’s 40 largest regional economies, Houston will have the highest growth rate in real Gross Area Product from the second quarter of 2001 through the second quarter of 2002, according to a forecast prepared by Economycom. The firm expects Houston’s economy to grow 2.02 percent over the period.

The forecast – a revision of a previous forecast – is designed to account for economic changes in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

It shows that all 40 major regional economies will sustain damage, with 30 experiencing slower growth than in the pre-attack forecast and 10 shifting from expansion to outright contraction.

Houston’s expected growth in the earlier forecast was 3.76 percent. Elsewhere in Texas, Dallas’ growth was reduced from 3.77 to 1 02 percent, Fort Worth-Arlington’s from 3.82 to 0.71 percent and Austin’s from 4.14 to 1.65 percent.

“While Houston is weathering job losses from Continental Airlines and looking at an unknown number of job losses due to the announced merger of Compaq and Hewlett Packard, there is a lot more to Houston’s economy” said Toni Horst, senior economist at Economycorn. “The fact that Houston’s economy is so diverse is the reason that we feel that twill outperform the economies of other metropolitan areas.”

“This initial assessment of regional economic fallout from last months atrocities reflects Houston’s unique economic makeup,” said Jim Kollaer, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership. The two components that contribute most to our benefit are Houston’s large concentration of colleges and universities which are seeing enrollments rise as layoffs increase, and its role as the global center of oil and gas exploration and production. But we need to be cautious, because the forecast assumes, among other things, that energy prices will remain fairly high.”

Economycom, which changed its name from Regional Financial Associates last year, is a nationally-prominent economic forecasting firm. Its clients include several major corporations and governments among which is the State of Texas.