Dallas and Houston, the region's two largest markets, are suffering from a double whammy. Turmoil in the energy market and the telecom crash have created an enormous stockpile of vacant office space. According to Grubb & Ellis, Dallas has one of the nation's worst office vacancy rates — 25 percent for downtown and suburban office space. Still embarrassed by the Enron debacle, Houston isn't doing much better. Houston's job losses are moderating, but the energy market is oh-so-slow compared to its 1980s heyday. There's a major construction project underway in Lake Charles, La., the nation's largest receiving and shipping point for natural gas, where Trunkline LNG Co. is beginning a $166-million expansion. The region was riding high after it began diversifying into telecommunications in the '80s, but now it suffers with the rest of the nation waiting for that business segment to recover. Home building in Texas remains a bright spot, with the Dallas, Austin and Houston residential markets among the nation's leaders.

ELECTRICAL WHOLESALERS' SALES
(in millions of dollars)
EW Estimates
Final
1999
Final
2000
Final
2001
Final
2002
Forecast
2003
Forecast
2004
West South Central 8,321.0 8,474.2 8,588.1 8,627.8 9,159.0 9,657.5
Arkansas 418.1 425.8 431.6 433.6 460.3 485.3
Louisiana 1,175.5 1,197.1 1,213.2 1,218.8 1,293.9 1,364.3
Oklahoma 587.6 598.4 606.5 609.3 646.8 682.0
Texas 6,139.7 6,252.7 6,336.8 6,366.1 6,758.0 7,125.9
EMPLOYMENT STATISTICS
Actual in thousands
EC M C G
West South Central 98,130 1,425.7 6,906.8 2,379.1
Arkansas 4,970 207.7 512.7 180.7
Fayetteville-Springdale MSA 847* 29.9 79.3 19.6
Fort Smith MSA 302 26.2 45.4 10.4
Little Rock-North Little Rock MSA 2,305* 25.4 156.2 59.1
Pine Bluff MSA 177* 7.0 15.1 8.0
Louisiana 16,596 157.2 929.4 368.2
Alexandria MSA 1,844 3.0 28.4 13.2
Baton Rouge MSA 5,551* 21.4 146.4 60.0
Houma-Thibodaux MSA 301 7.3 35.7 15.1
Lafayette MSA 1,591* 11.5 86.7 22.6
Lake Charles MSA 415 9.7 41.6 13.3
Monroe MSA 682 8.0 38.1 13.1
New Orleans MSA 3,451* 41.8 339.4 106.3
Shreveport MSA 1,010 14.9 87.3 31.8
Oklahoma 9,281 148.7 718.5 273.3
Enid MSA 156 2.2 11.6 3.8
Lawton MSA 188 3.5 16.9 10.2
Oklahoma City MSA 3,034 42.5 284.8 100.2
Tulsa MSA 3,377 45.5 200.1 41.7
Texas 67,283 912.1 4,746.2 1,556.9
Abilene MSA 420 2.8 32.1 9.2
Amarillo MSA 351 8.3 50.3 16.8
Austin MSA 5,685 59.1 327.5 141.9
Beaumont-Port Arthur MSA 1,415 20.0 76.3 25.6
Brazoria PMSA 664 12.5 29.5 15.0
Brownsville-Harlingen MSA 675* 9.9 63.8 24.6
Bryan-College Station MSA 496 5.2 31.9 29.7
Corpus Christi MSA 1,152 11.4 84.5 29.0
Dallas PMSA 15,760 204.6 1,017.6 226.4
El Paso MSA 771* 27.1 125.1 55.8
Fort Worth-Arlington PMSA 5,319 97.3 388.7 103.2
Galveston-Texas City PMSA 553* 7.1 41.6 24.6
Houston PMSA 17,299* 193.1 1,058.6 272.7
Killeen-Temple MSA 486* 8.0 50.7 29.1
Laredo MSA 291 1.1 36.1 15.4
Longview-Marshall MSA 477* 14.4 46.7 11.3
Lubbock MSA 882* 5.7 64.5 26.1
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission MSA 658 9.1 90.5 40.9
Odessa MSA 1,076 5.9 48.0 17.0
San Angelo MSA 475 3.9 22.1 8.8
San Antonio MSA 4,673 45.5 416.9 128.1
Sherman-Denison MSA 771* 7.0 23.7 5.8
Texarkana MSA 363* 5.4 27.2 9.9
Tyler MSA 313 10.7 47.9 11.4
Victoria MSA 173 2.7 18.7 6.3
Waco MSA 475* 14.2 50.6 16.9
Wichita Falls MSA 278* 7.4 27.9 13.1