A recent opinion column in the Houston Chronicle provides plenty of reason for optimism when we consider how Texas and the Texas economy will rebound from the crisis induced by COVID-19.
The piece by David Foster notes that Texas has the largest energy workforce in the country — more than 607,000 people working in “the production of fuels, electricity and their transmission, distribution and storage.” Plus, Foster notes, almost 170,000 Texans work in energy efficiency.
The spread of the novel coronavirus and increased oil production from Russia and Saudi Arabia have both hurt the energy economy here in the United States. The price of oil has plummeted in recent weeks, dropping to around $20 per barrel. This has particularly grave implications for Texas because energy is still a critical sector of our economy — cheaper oil means fewer companies working to produce it, thousands or even tens of thousands fewer jobs for Texans, and huge cuts in tax revenues that state and local officials use to pay for public schools and universities, health care, and other basic services.
But Foster notes that, in recent years, energy jobs have grown faster than the rest of the economy due to the introduction of new technologies that made energy cheaper and more efficient to use. This is encouraging, because the energy sector has proven that it can innovate and change as new technologies develop.