West South Central Regional Forecast

Arkansas • Louisiana • Oklahoma • Texas

The Texas economy historically dominates this region. This year was no exception as the state had the largest project breaking ground this year with the $1.6 billion expansion of an oil refinery in Port Arthur, and a big boost in single-family building permits with solid growth in Houston (up 11% to 10,590 permits) and Dallas (up 9% to 16,500 permits), the nation’s two largest homebuilding markets. Houston’s office market is in better shape than Dallas’ (25.6% vacancy) with its 12.6% office vacancy rate. Outside of Texas, the housing recovery is pretty slow in most of this region’s major metropolitan areas. Louisiana and Oklahoma are getting a share of the nonresidential market in 2010, with a $214 million hospital breaking ground earlier this year in Baton Rouge, La., and two big-dollar wind farms under construction in Oklahoma worth an estimated $430 million in construction contracts, according to McGraw-Hill Construction. Unemployment is tracking below the national average in this region.