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Houston is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Texas, fourth-most populous city in the United States, most populous city in the Southern United States, as well as the sixth-most populous in North America, with a population of 2,304,580 in 2020. Located in Southeast Texasnear Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, it is the seat of Harris County and the principal city of the Greater Houston metropolitan area, which is the fifth-most populous metropolitan statistical area in the United States. Houston is the southeast anchor of the greater megaregion known as the Texas Triangle.

Comprising a total area of 637.4 square miles (1,651 km2), Houston is the ninth-most expansive city in the United States (including consolidated city-counties). It is the largest city in the United States by total area, whose government is not consolidated with a county, parish, or borough. Though primarily in Harris County, small portions of the city extend into Fort Bend and Montgomery counties, bordering other principal communities of Greater Houston such as Sugar Land and The Woodlands.

Nicknamed the "Bayou City", "Space City", "H-Town", and "the 713", Houston has become a global city, with strengths in culture, medicine, and research. The city has a population from various ethnic and religious backgrounds and a large and growing international community. Houston is the most diverse metropolitan area in Texas and has been described as the most racially and ethnically diverse major metropolis in the U.S. It is home to many cultural institutions and exhibits, which attract more than seven million visitors a year to the Museum District. The Museum District is home to nineteen museums, galleries, and community spaces. Houston has an active visual and performing arts scene in the Theater District, and offers year-round resident companies in all major performing arts.

Greater Houston, designated by the United States Office of Management and Budget as Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land, is the fifth-most populous metropolitan statistical area in the United States, encompassing nine counties along the Gulf Coast in Southeast Texas. With a population of 6,997,384 people at the 2018 census estimates and 7,122,240 in 2020, Greater Houston is the second-most populous in Texas after the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex. The approximately 10,000-square-mile (26,000 km2) region centers on Harris County, the third-most populous county in the U.S., which contains the city of Houston—the largest economic and cultural center of the South—with a population of more than 2.3 million. Greater Houston is part of the Texas Triangle megaregion along with the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, Greater Austin, and Greater San Antonio. Greater Houston also serves as a major anchor and economic hub for the Gulf Coast. Its Port of Houston is the second largest port in the United States, sixteenth largest in the world, and leads the U.S. in international trade.

Greater Houston has the seventh-highest metropolitan-area gross domestic product in the United States, valued at $490 billion in 2017. A major trade center anchored by the Port of Houston, Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land has the highest trade export value of all metropolitan areas, at over $120 billion in 2018, accounting for 42% of the total exports of Texas. As of 2021, Greater Houston is home to the headquarters of 24 Fortune 500 companies, ranking third among all metropolitan statistical areas. The Greater Houston metropolitan area was ranked the fourth-most diverse metropolitan area in the United States in 2012.

Crowd

DEMOGRAPHICS

POPULATION: 2,304,580

  • Hispanic or Latino of any race: 45.0%

  • White (non-Hispanic): 24.4%

  • Black (non-Hispanic): 22.6%

  • Asian: 6.8%

The 2020 U.S. census determined Houston had a population of 2,304,280, a slight decline from census estimates due to suburbanization. In 2017, the census-estimated population was 2,312,717, and in 2018 it was 2,325,502. An estimated 600,000 undocumented immigrants resided in the Houston area in 2017, comprising nearly 9% of the city's metropolitan population. At the 2010 United States census, Houston had a population of 2,100,263 residents.

Per the 2019 American Community Survey, Houston's age distribution was 482,402 under 15; 144,196 aged 15 to 19; 594,477 aged 20 to 34; 591,561 aged 35 to 54; 402,804 aged 55 to 74; and 101,357 aged 75 and older. The median age of the city was 33.4. At the 2014-2018 census estimates, Houston's age distribution was 486,083 under 15; 147,710 aged 15 to 19; 603,586 aged 20 to 34; 726,877 aged 35 to 59; and 357,834 aged 60 and older. The median age was 33.1, up from 32.9 in 2017 and down from 33.5 in 2014; the city's youthfulness was attributed to an influx of an African American New Great Migration, Hispanic and Latin American, and Asian immigrants into Texas. For every 100 females, there were 98.5 males.

There were 987,158 housing units in 2019 and 876,504 households. An estimated 42.3% of Houstonians owned housing units with an average of 2.65 people per household. The median monthly owner costs with a mortgage were $1,646, and $536 without a mortgage.

Houston is a majority-minority city. The Rice University Kinder Institute for Urban Research, a think tank, has described Greater Houston as "one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse metropolitan areas in the country". Houston's diversity, historically fueled by large waves of Hispanic and Latin American, and Asian immigrants, has been attributed to its relatively low cost of living, strong job market, and role as a hub for refugee resettlement. Houston has long been known as a popular destination for Black and African Americans due to the city's well-established and influential Black or African American community. Houston is also known as the next Black Mecca after Atlanta. The Houston area is also home to the largest African American community west of the Mississippi River. A 2012 Kinder Institute report found that, based on the evenness of population distribution between the four major racial groups in the United States (non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, Hispanic or Latino, and Asian), Greater Houston was the most ethnically diverse metropolitan area in the United States, ahead of New York City.

In 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, non-Hispanic whites made up 23.3% of the population of Houston proper, Hispanics and Latin Americans 45.8%, Blacks or African Americans 22.4%, and Asian Americans 6.5%. In 2018, non-Hispanic whites made up 20.7% of the population, Hispanics or Latin Americans 44.9%, Blacks or African Americans 30.3%, and Asian Americans 8.2%. The largest Hispanic or Latin American ethnic groups in the city were Mexican Americans (31.6%), Puerto Ricans (0.8%), and Cuban Americans (0.8%) in 2018.

Houston has a higher proportion of minorities than non-Hispanic whites. In 2010, whites (including Hispanic whites) made up 57.6% of the city of Houston's population; 24.6% of the total population was non-Hispanic whites. Blacks or African Americans made up 22.5% of Houston's population, American Indians made up 0.3% of the population, Asians made up 6.9% (1.7% Vietnamese, 1.3% Chinese, 1.3% Indian, 0.9% Pakistani, 0.4% Filipino, 0.3% Korean, 0.1% Japanese) and Pacific Islanders made up 0.1%. Individuals from some other race made up 15.69% of the city's population. Individuals from two or more races made up 2.1% of the city.

Sexual orientation and gender identity

Houston is home to one of the largest LGBT communities and pride parades in the United States. In 2018, the city scored a 70 out of 100 for LGBT friendliness. Jordan Blum of the Houston Chronicle stated levels of LGBT acceptance and discrimination varied in 2016 due to some of the region's traditionally conservative culture.

Before the 1970s, the city's gay bars were spread around Downtown Houston and what is now midtown Houston. LGBT Houstonians needed to have a place to socialize after the closing of the gay bars. They began going to Art Wren, a 24-hour restaurant in Montrose. LGBT community members were attracted to Montrose as a neighborhood after encountering it while patronizing Art Wren, and they began to gentrify the neighborhood and assist its native inhabitants with property maintenance. Within Montrose, new gay bars began to open. By 1985, the flavor and politics of the neighborhood were heavily influenced by the LGBT community, and in 1990, according to Hill, 19% of Montrose residents identified as LGBT. Paul Broussard was murdered in Montrose in 1991.

Before the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States the Marriage of Billie Ert and Antonio Molina, considered the first same-sex marriage in Texas history, took place on October 5, 1972. Houston elected the first openly lesbian mayor of a major city in 2009, and she served until 2016. During her tenure she authorized the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance which was intended to improve anti-discrimination coverage based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the city, specifically in areas such as housing and occupation where no anti-discrimination policy existed.

Religion

Houston and its metropolitan area are the third-most religious and Christian area by percentage of population in the United States, and second in Texas behind the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex. Historically, Houston has been a center of Protestant Christianity, being part of the Bible Belt. Other Christian groups including Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Christianity, and non-Christian religions did not grow for much of the city's history because immigration was predominantly from Western Europe (which at the time was dominated by Western Christianity and favored by the quotas in federal immigration law). The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 removed the quotas, allowing for the growth of other religions.

According to a 2014 study by the Pew Research Center, 73% of the population of the Houston area identified themselves as Christians, about 50% of whom claimed Protestant affiliations and about 19% claimed Roman Catholic affiliations. Nationwide, about 71% of respondents identified as Christians. About 20% of Houston-area residents claimed no religious affiliation, compared to about 23% nationwide. The same study says area residents who identify with other religions (including Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism) collectively made up about 7% of the area population. In 2020, the Public Religion Research Institute estimated 40% were Protestant and 29% Catholic; overall, Christianity represented 72% of the population.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, the largest Catholic jurisdiction in Texas and fifth-largest in the United States, was established in 1847. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston claims approximately 1.7 million Catholics within its boundaries. Other prominent Catholic jurisdictions include the Eastern Catholic Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church and Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church as well as the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, whose cathedral is also in Houston.

A variety of Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches can be found in Houston. Immigrants from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Ethiopia, India, and other areas have added to Houston's Eastern and Oriental Orthodox population. As of 2011 in the entire state, 32,000 people actively attended Orthodox churches. In 2013 Father John Whiteford, the pastor of St. Jonah Orthodox Church near Spring, stated there were about 6,000-9,000 Eastern Orthodox Christians in Houston. The most prominent Eastern and Oriental Orthodox jurisdictions are the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, and Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

Houston's Jewish community, estimated at 47,000 in 2001, has been present in the city since the 1800s. Houstonian Jews have origins from throughout the United States, Israel, Mexico, Russia, and other places. As of 2016, over 40 synagogues were in Greater Houston. The largest synagogues are Congregation Beth Yeshurun, a Conservative Jewish temple, and the Reform Jewish congregations Beth Israel and Emanu-El. According to a study in 2016 by Berman Jewish DataBank, 51,000 Jews lived in the area, an increase of 4,000 since 2001.

Houston has a large and diverse Muslim community; it is the largest in Texas and the Southern United States, as of 2012. It is estimated that Muslims made up 1.2% of Houston's population. As of 2016, Muslims in the Houston area included South Asians, Middle Easterners, Africans, Turks, and Indonesians, as well as a growing population of Latino Muslim converts. In 2000 there were over 41 mosques and storefront religious centers, with the largest being the Al-Noor Mosque (Mosque of Light) of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston. The Hindu, Sikh, and Buddhist communities form a growing sector of the religious demographic after Judaism and Islam. One of the largest Hindu temples in the metropolitan area is BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Houston, affiliated with the Swaminarayan Sampradaya denomination. Of the irreligious community 16% practiced nothing in particular, 3% were agnostic, and 2% were atheist.

HOUSING UNITS:   782,378

OWNER-OCCUPIED HOUSING UNIT RATE:   42.3%

MEDIAN VALUE OF HOUSING UNIT:   $220,000

MEDIAN GROSS RENT:   $1,041

Colourful Terraced Houses

HOUSING

Houston Rents

$1,949

Dollar Bill in Jar

ECONOMY

Houston has seen the job market increase by 3.2% over the last year. Future job growth over the next ten years is predicted to be 30.9%, which is lower than the US average of 33.5%.

Tax Rates for Houston

  • The Sales Tax Rate for Houston is 8.2%. The US average is 7.3%.

  • The Income Tax Rate for Houston is 0.0%. The US average is 4.6%.

  • Tax Rates can have big impact when Comparing Cost of Living.

Income and Salaries for Houston

  • The average income of a Houston resident is $27,938 a year. The US average is $28,555 a year. 

  • The Median household income of a Houston resident is $45,728 a year. The US average is $53,482 a year.

Houston is recognized worldwide for its energy industry—particularly for oil and natural gas—as well as for biomedical research and aeronautics. Renewable energy sources—wind and solar—are also growing economic bases in the city. The city and area have also been growing centers for technology. Major technology and software companies within Greater Houston include Cybersoft, Houston Wire & Cable, and HostGator. In 2020, it was announced HP Enterprises would relocate its global headquarters from California to the Greater Houston area. The Houston Ship Channel is also a large part of Houston's economic base.

Because of these strengths, Houston is designated as a global city by the Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network and global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney. The Houston area is the top U.S. market for exports, surpassing New York City in 2013, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration. In 2012, the Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land area recorded $110.3 billion in merchandise exports. Petroleum products, chemicals, and oil and gas extraction equipment accounted for roughly two-thirds of the metropolitan area's exports last year. The top three destinations for exports were Mexico, Canada, and Brazil.

The Houston area is a leading center for building oilfield equipment. Much of its success as a petrochemical complex is due to its busy ship channel, the Port of Houston. In the United States, the port ranks first in international commerce and 16th among the largest ports in the world. Unlike most places, high oil and gasoline prices are beneficial for Houston's economy, as many of its residents are employed in the energy industry. Houston is the beginning or end point of numerous oil, gas, and products pipelines.

The Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metro area's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016 was $478 billion, making it the sixth-largest of any metropolitan area in the United States and larger than Iran's, Colombia's, or the United Arab Emirates' GDP. Only 27 countries other than the United States have a gross domestic product exceeding Houston's regional gross area product (GAP). In 2010, mining (which consists almost entirely of exploration and production of oil and gas in Houston) accounted for 26.3% of Houston's GAP up sharply in response to high energy prices and a decreased worldwide surplus of oil production capacity, followed by engineering services, health services, and manufacturing.

The University of Houston System's annual impact on the Houston area's economy equates to that of a major corporation: $1.1 billion in new funds attracted annually to the Houston area, $3.13 billion in total economic benefit, and 24,000 local jobs generated. This is in addition to the 12,500 new graduates the U.H. System produces every year who enter the workforce in Houston and throughout Texas. These degree-holders tend to stay in Houston. After five years, 80.5% of graduates are still living and working in the region.

In 2006, the Houston metropolitan area ranked first in Texas and third in the U.S. within the category of "Best Places for Business and Careers" by Forbes magazine. Ninety-one foreign governments have established consular offices in Houston's metropolitan area, the third-highest in the nation. Forty foreign governments maintain trade and commercial offices here with 23 active foreign chambers of commerce and trade associations. Twenty-five foreign banks representing 13 nations operate in Houston, providing financial assistance to the international community.

In 2008, Houston received top ranking on Kiplinger's Personal Finance "Best Cities of 2008" list, which ranks cities on their local economy, employment opportunities, reasonable living costs, and quality of life. The city ranked fourth for highest increase in the local technological innovation over the preceding 15 years, according to Forbes magazine. In the same year, the city ranked second on the annual Fortune 500 list of company headquarters, first for Forbes magazine's "Best Cities for College Graduates", and first on their list of "Best Cities to Buy a Home". In 2010, the city was rated the best city for shopping, according to Forbes.

In 2012, the city was ranked number one for paycheck worth by Forbes and in late May 2013, Houston was identified as America's top city for employment creation.

In 2013, Houston was identified as the number one U.S. city for job creation by the U.S. Bureau of Statistics after it was not only the first major city to regain all the jobs lost in the preceding economic downturn, but also after the crash, more than two jobs were added for every one lost. Economist and vice president of research at the Greater Houston Partnership Patrick Jankowski attributed Houston's success to the ability of the region's real estate and energy industries to learn from historical mistakes. Furthermore, Jankowski stated that "more than 100 foreign-owned companies relocated, expanded or started new businesses in Houston" between 2008 and 2010, and this openness to external business boosted job creation during a period when domestic demand was problematically low. Also in 2013, Houston again appeared on Forbes' list of "Best Places for Business and Careers".

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