by Mitchell Schnurman, Dallas Morning News
Call it the I-35 firewall, because it’s the best defense against a big downturn in the Texas economy.
Three major metros along the interstate corridor — Dallas, Austin and San Antonio — keep adding jobs even as oil prices plunge. And their gains may be enough to offset the energy shock.
At least they were last year, and that’s likely to continue, said Rob Kaplan, the new president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
Houston and Fort Worth, a big manufacturing town, managed to grow just slightly in 2015, increasing jobs by less than 1 percent. Oil-dominated economies in Midland, Odessa and Longview had net declines in employment.
The bright spots were Dallas, Austin and San Antonio, which together created 168,000 jobs — the exact net gain for the entire state. While Dallas slipped in manufacturing, it grew strongly in professional services; trade, transportation and utilities; and leisure and hospitality.
Health care was also a strong contributor to job growth as more Texans got insurance through Obamacare and Medicaid.