• The energy sector shed 260,000 jobs in 2015.
  • With West Texas crude trading below $27 a barrel, experts are noting trends, but not panic, in the Houston housing market.
  • The Houston economy is far more diverse than it was during the last economic bust.

There’s a reason why the benchmark for U.S. crude oil is West Texas Intermediate. Oil lubricates the entire Texas economy. Of late, that benchmark grade of crude oil has made headlines: it’s now fetching record low prices on commodities markets. Earlier this week, black gold began trading below $27 a barrel, reaching lows not seen since May 2003. While consumers are elated by gas that’s well below $2 per-gallon, energy companies feel nothing but pains. By some accounts, energy companies had laid off close to 260,000 workers in 2015, and the pain may continue into this year. The Greater Houston Partnership, in its annual report, said that energy accounts for about one-third of the region’s GDP, 10 percent of the region’s employment, and more than one-fifth of the r...