HAPPY HOUSTON, Texas (AP) The price of gas has been on a tear.
The average price for a gallon of regular gas has soared to $3.84, according to data from AAA.
Prices for premium gas, which is more expensive but less fuel-efficient, have also surged.
Gas prices have soared.
(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) The spike in prices, however, is nothing compared to the soaring costs of living in Houston.
The average Houston household makes $18,955, according the American Community Survey.
That’s about $9,000 less than it was a year ago, according a recent analysis from real-estate site Zillow.
In 2016, the median household income in the city was $61,811, according data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
That’s a 6.9 percent drop from a year earlier.
The number of people earning $50,000 or less is nearly double what it was in 2014.
It’s the lowest level of income in more than 25 years.
“People are feeling the squeeze in the middle class and are taking on more debt,” said Jason Tullos, an assistant professor of business administration at the University of Houston.
“They’re paying for that, and that’s pushing them further out of their income.”
A lack of job training and education for the unemployed have also played a role.
The percentage of Houston’s workforce that has a college degree fell from 12.4 percent in 2013 to 11.5 percent in 2017, according census data.
It dropped to 9.6 percent in 2020.
That represents a 10.4 percentage point decline from the number of workers with a college diploma in the mid-1990s.
“The fact that we’re seeing this increase is a sign that people are getting out of school and into the workforce,” said Eric Sargent, a professor of sociology at Rice University.
Sargent said the problem isn’t that Houston is losing jobs, it’s that the city’s population has exploded.
The city is the fastest-growing major metro area in the country.
Its population grew by nearly 7 percent in the past year, and it’s expected to continue to grow for years to come.
The metro area is expected to add nearly a million people this decade.
It also has the nation’s fastest-shrinking workforce of low-wage workers, according an analysis by the Pew Research Center.
The trend is evident in Houston, where there are nearly 3,000 more people employed in the construction and other construction trades than there were just a decade ago.
There are now about 13,000 jobs in construction and related trades.
The surge in gas prices, combined with rising energy costs, is weighing on the city.
Gas prices have jumped to $4.95 a gallon, up nearly 8 percent from a decade earlier.
Prices have also climbed to $2.88 a gallon from $2 a gallon two years ago.
That compares to the $2 gas price in April.
The cost of living has skyrocketed, with inflation taking a bite out of the price of groceries and food, according one Houston-based economist.
It has increased the cost of buying a house by $5,000 since 2013, according Zillows data.
The problem is compounded by a lack of employment opportunities, according Jason Taylor, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a nonpartisan think tank.
In Texas, the unemployment rate is nearly 8.3 percent.
That means that even if you’re an engineer or a software engineer and have a job, there are only 2.4 people available for you.
That leaves an opportunity gap, and if you can’t find work, that gap is filled with someone else, said Taylor.
“So that leaves people with less disposable income,” he said.
“That means that when you’re out of work, there’s less of an opportunity for people to make ends meet.”
Houston has had some success getting out from under its crushing debt load.
In 2017, it eliminated about $30 billion in state debt and refinanced its debt.
The money was used to help offset some of the $1.8 billion in interest payments it had on its $2 billion bond issue.
That deal was approved by the state Legislature and signed into law in early 2018.
The debt forgiveness was an important step, but it also gave Houston time to refinance a much larger portion of its debt, which has been in the black for decades.
The city’s debt has ballooned to $20.5 billion, according Toon.
“It was a great thing for Houston, but a very bad thing for our city,” Toon said.
That debt is due to default on more than $4 billion in debt it owes to banks and other creditors.
But it could still be refinanced, according Travis Cooley, an analyst at the real-life-data startup Flurry.
The $1 billion payment in