Work and family are top causes of stress for Texans. Photo via Getty Images

No wonder nearly 40 percent of Texans have packed on the pounds during the coronavirus pandemic. It turns out Texas ranks as the 10th most stressed-out state in the country.

A new study by personal finance website WalletHub indicates Texas' sixth-place ranking for work-related stress and its seventh-place ranking for family-related stress contribute heavily to the state's No. 10 position on the stress-o-meter. Texas shows up at No. 11 for health- and safety-related stress, and No. 30 for money-related stress.

Experts say a high level of work-related stress, as is the case in Texas, can be connected to weight fluctuations. In a survey by the FitRated website for fitness equipment reviews, one-fourth of full-time workers reported changing their eating habits due to work-related stress.

"If you're stressed at work, you might … notice a shift in your appetite. For some people, stress-related eating can reflect a loss of appetite or the craving for comfort food," according to the Weatherford-based American Institute of Stress.

WalletHub looked at 41 indicators of stress for the study, including average hours worked per week, personal bankruptcy rate, and share of adults getting adequate sleep. Texas shows up at No. 4 for both the most average hours worked per week and the lowest credit scores. Here's how Texas fares in other parts of the study, with a No. 1 rank signaling the most stress:

  • No. 8 for share of adults in fair or poor health.
  • No. 13 for share of population living in poverty.
  • No. 14 for crime rate per capita.
  • No. 19 for psychologists per capita.
  • No. 25 for divorce rate.
  • No. 28 for job security.
  • No. 30 for housing affordability.

Nevada tops WalletHub's list of the most stressed-out states; South Dakota sits at the opposite end of the stress spectrum.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

According to a recent ranking, Texas is chugging along as an innovative state. Photo by gguy44/Getty Images

Here's how Texas ranks among the nation's most innovative states

Ranking texas

Innovation is one of the cogs of any state's economic engine, and it appears Texas' innovation cogs are decently oiled.

Texas ranks 17th in a new study by personal finance website WalletHub of the country's innovative states. While the Lone Star State isn't the most innovative state in the ranking — that accolade goes to Massachusetts — it still earns above-average status.

"As the ninth-largest economy in the world, the Lone Star State is an economic and innovation powerhouse that offers unmatched opportunities for families and businesses. Texas continues to lead as a top state for job creation and for attracting job-creating capital investments — thanks to our unwavering commitment to economic freedom and our young, educated, and diverse workforce," according to the Texas governor's office.

While Texas sits below big states such as Massachusetts, California (No. 7), New Jersey (No. 12), and Michigan (No. 14) in terms of innovation, it beats other large states like North Carolina (No. 19), Florida (No. 20), Illinois (No. 23), New York (No. 25), and Tennessee (No. 44).

For its study, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 22 indicators of innovation friendliness, ranging from share of STEM professionals and R&D spending per capita to tech-company density and VC funding per capita.

Texas fared well in categories like tech-company density (No. 14), VC funding per capita (No. 16), share of STEM professionals (No. 17), projected demand for STEM jobs by 2028 (No. 18), and share of science and engineering graduates age 25 and over (No. 24). But the state lagged the majority of states in areas such as math and science performance among eighth-graders (No. 29) and R&D spending per capita (No. 32).

"My goal is to have Texas be the home of innovation," Gov. Greg Abbott told the Austin American-Statesman in 2016. "We are heading into a new era that I want Texas to be in the forefront of, a new era of life sciences research — a combination of technology and life sciences — and medical advances, where over the coming two or three decades there will be incredible advances in medicine and health care, and the cures and treatments we have for people."

At the time, Abbott envisioned a "research triangle" encompassing Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio.

Houston, of course, plays a significant role in Texas' innovation economy. For instance, it ranks 24th on a list of the most inventive U.S. cities based on the number of patents issued per capita. (Texas ranks 20th among the states for the number of patents issued per capita.) And this year, The Ion innovation hub will open as the anchor of Houston's 16-acre South Main Innovation District.

"Houston is where innovation and industry converge. Ours is a city that chooses to take humankind's boldest challenges head-on, from landing on the moon to developing the first artificial heart," the Greater Houston Partnership says. "And Houston's innovation ecosystem continues to thrive through programs like TMC Innovation Institute at the Texas Medical Center and spaces like the emerging South Main Innovation District."

Hey, big spenders of The Woodlands and Sugar Land. Photo courtesy of Holiday Shopping Card

Shoppers in these Houston suburbs are among biggest holiday spenders in U.S.

big spenders

It appears that delivery drivers (and Santa) will be hauling sleighs full of gifts to homes in The Woodlands and Sugar Land this holiday season.

A new study from personal finance website WalletHub ranks The Woodlands and Sugar Land sixth and seventh, respectively, in the country for cities with the biggest holiday budgets. WalletHub estimates that consumers in The Woodlands will ring up an average of $2,729 in holiday spending; Sugar Land residents will spend $2,728.

Other Greater Houston-area suburbs on the list include League City, No. 15 at $2,501, and Missouri City, No. 98 at $1,264.

Elsewhere in Texas, Flower Mound came in second for holiday spending; residents there will ring up an average of $2,973. Only Palo Alto, California, had a higher amount ($3,056) among the 570 U.S. cities included in the study, which was released November 17.

The five factors that WalletHub used to come up with budget estimates for each city are income, age, savings-to-expenses ratio, income-to-expenses ratio and debt-to-income ratio.

Flower Mound consistently ranks at the top of WalletHub's annual study on holiday spending. Last year, the Dallas suburb came in at No. 3 (budget: $2,937), and in 2018, it landed atop the list at No. 1 (budget: $2,761).

Aside from Flower Mound, five cities in Dallas-Fort Worth appear in WalletHub's top 100:

  • Richardson, No. 36, $2,002
  • Frisco, No. 53, $1,684
  • Plano, No. 59, $1,594
  • Carrollton, No. 71, $1,492
  • North Richland Hills, No. 95, $1,303

Two cities in the Austin area also make the top 100: Cedar Park at No. 73 ($1,472) and Austin at No. 99 ($1,259).

Austin's No. 99 ranking puts it in the top spot among Texas' five largest cities. It's followed by Fort Worth (No. 306, $718), San Antonio (No. 394, $600), Dallas (No. 399, $596), and Houston (No. 436, $565).

Harlingen is the most Scrooge-y Texas city: The estimated $385 holiday budget puts it at No. 560 nationwide.

Overall, Americans predict they'll spend an average of $805 on holiday gifts this year, down significantly from last year's estimate of $942, according to a recent Gallup poll.

Outlooks for U.S. holiday retail sales this year are muted due to the pandemic-produced recession. Consulting giant Deloitte forecasts a modest rise of 1 percent to 1.5 percent, with commercial real estate services provider CBRE guessing the figure will be less than 2 percent.

"The lower projected holiday growth this season is not surprising given the state of the economy. While high unemployment and economic anxiety will weigh on overall retail sales this holiday season, reduced spending on pandemic-sensitive services such as restaurants and travel may help bolster retail holiday sales somewhat," Daniel Bachman, Deloitte's U.S. economic forecaster, says in a release.

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Out of the largest 100 cities in the country, Houston ranks high up on the list that evaluated personal financial distress of citizens. Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Houston ranks No. 3 on list of cities with the most people in financial distress amid COVID-19

money problems

During the pandemic-produced recession, debt and loans are weighing heavily on the hearts and minds of Houstonians.

A study released this week by personal finance website WalletHub found Houston ranks first among the country's 100 largest United States cities for online searches about debt and first for online searches about loans. Overall, Houston ranks third for financial distress, behind first-place Las Vegas and second-place Chicago.

To examine where Americans are struggling the most financially, WalletHub compared the 100 largest cities across nine key metrics. Factors taken into consideration include average credit score, number of bankruptcy filings between June 2020 and June 2019, and online searches regarding debt and loans.

Aside from sitting at No. 1 for interest in debt and loans, Houston ranks:

  • No. 9 for share of people with accounts in distress in September
  • No. 9 for average number of accounts in distress in September
  • No. 12 for average credit score in September

WalletHub defines a distressed account as one for which payments have been reduced, skipped or delayed.

Among Texas cities, Houston has a lot of company in WalletHub's top 10. San Antonio appears at No. 4, Dallas at No. 5, Austin at No. 8, and Fort Worth at No. 10. In all, the ranking includes 13 Texas cities. Irving demonstrates the most financial stability of the 13 cities, according to WalletHub, with its financial stress ranking at No. 72.

As with almost every U.S. city, Houston has been whacked by the recession. In September, the metro area's unemployment rate stood at 9.6 percent, up from 8.1 percent the previous month. Compared with the state's three other major metro areas, Houston's September unemployment rate was the highest. The September jobless rate was 6.4 percent in Austin, 7.4 percent in Dallas, 7.6 percent in Fort Worth, and 7.8 percent in San Antonio. The statewide unemployment rate was 8.3 percent, while the nationwide unemployment rate was 7.7 percent.

One of the main drivers of Houston's high unemployment rate is the ongoing slump in the U.S. oil, gas, and chemical industry. A report released October 5 by consulting giant Deloitte showed the nationwide sector shed 107,000 jobs from March to August.

"We will never see oil and gas employment get back to where it was in December 2014. Employment in the industry today is pretty much where it was in 2006," Patrick Jankowski, senior vice president of research at the Houston Partnership, said in June. "Energy has been real good to Houston. It's still a big part of our economy, but we cannot rely on it like we have in the past."

A September report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas noted that the Houston area is in recovery mode, but the pace has slowed, mostly due to weakness in the energy sector. The report says "that while Houston's recovery is likely to continue, it will lag the state."

The report adds that the Houston area had recovered 33 percent of pandemic-era job losses as of August, compared with 42 percent across Texas and 48 percent nationwide.

Of course, the pandemic recession also has hammered the hospitality industry.

During his State of the City address on October 22, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said said 196 meetings, conferences, and conventions in the city had been canceled or rescheduled since March. The result: an estimated economic loss of $332 million. The city's hotel occupancy rate stands at a meager 44 percent, according to Turner, with the rate for downtown hotels at only 17 percent.

The pandemic's impact during the rest of 2020 and into 2020 "will be significant for our hospitality community," the mayor said.

Despite the downturn in the energy and hospitality sectors, Turner and others feel optimistic about what's ahead for Houston.

"As we gradually take steps to reopen, we recognize that the full recovery will take several years, but when we work together, we put ourselves in the best position to manage the virus and rebound from it," Turner said. "As we move forward through these unprecedented times, the city's foundation is strong, the city itself is resilient, and the city's future is bright."

Texans know hard work, a study shows. Photo by Tom Werner/Getty Images

Texas punches in as one of the hardest-working states in U.S., says study

workin' hard

Hey, Texas. Kick up your feet and give yourselves a pat on the back. You deserve it. The Lone Star State has been named one of the hardest-working states in the country.

In a study released August 31 just ahead of Labor Day, personal finance website WalletHub ranks Texas fourth on its list of the hardest-working states, behind North Dakota at No. 1, Alaska at No. 2, and Wyoming at No. 3. In last place: West Virginia.

Texas held the No. 4 spot in WalletHub's 2019 rankings, too.

For the study, WalletHub compares the 50 states across 10 key indicators. Those factors include average hours worked per week, share of workers with more than one job, and volunteer hours logged per person. Texas clocks in at No. 4 this year for the highest average number of hours put in during the workweek — its best ranking among the 10 key indicators.

The study of hardest-working states comes as a new WalletHub survey shows about one-third of Americans are worried about job security.

"Women are less likely than men to be concerned about job security, even though recent data shows that women are losing their jobs at a greater rate than men during the COVID-19 pandemic," WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez says.

The survey also finds that about half of Americans say they've worked harder since the coronavirus pandemic began.

"Middle-class Americans were the most likely to say they have worked harder, followed by high-income and then low-income Americans," Gonzalez says.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

A new study ranks Houston as the country's 10th most ethnically diverse large city. Getty Images

Houston named a top 10 big city for ethnic diversity by new study

BAYOU CITY BRAGGING RIGHTS

Houston prides itself on its diversity — and rightfully so. A new study ranks Houston as the country's 10th most ethnically diverse large city.

Among 501 U.S. cities, Houston also ranks 28th overall and first in Texas, according to the study, released February 11 by personal finance website WalletHub.

To come up its ranking, WalletHub measured three key indicators of ethnic diversity: language, ethnicity and race, and birthplace. Houston ranks 25th for language diversity, 36th for ethnic and racial diversity, and 244th for birthplace diversity.

This finding differs from a study by Rice University's Kinder Institute for Urban Research that found Houston was the most ethnically and racially diverse metro area in the U.S. as of 2010. Why the disparity? The WalletHub study looked at data for the city of Houston, while the Kinder Institute study examined data for the entire Houston metro area.

The new finding also differs from a broader WalletHub study published in April 2019. In that study, Houston was crowned the most diverse city in the U.S., based on socioeconomic, cultural, economic, household, and religious diversity. Ethnic diversity is only one component of that ranking.

"Houston is the most diverse city in the United States. But diversity alone is not enough — we must always strive to be more inclusive," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeted in December 2019. "As your mayor, I know that diversity and inclusivity are what makes us strong. And I will always work to build one complete Houston."

However you slice it, Houston leads the pack in Texas for ethnic and racial diversity. Here's how other major cities in the Lone Star State fare in the new WalletHub study:

  • Arlington, No. 38
  • Plano, No. 46
  • Dallas, No. 47
  • Fort Worth, No. 62
  • Austin, No. 73
  • San Antonio, No. 136

While Austin and cities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area don't rank particularly high in the WalletHub study, Austin and DFW do show up on a recent list of the country's most racially diverse metro areas.

DFW held the No. 11 spot in the Bloomberg news service's 2018 ranking of racial diversity among the 100 largest U.S. metros, while Austin stood at No. 19. Houston bested both of those areas, though, landing at No. 5.

Austin and Dallas didn't perform as well in a racial and ethnic index compiled by U.S. News & World Report.

The index shows the racial and ethnic diversity of Dallas actually slipped 3.4 percent from 2010 to 2018, with Austin's diversity declining by 0.10 percent. The decrease was 2.6 percent in San Antonio and 1.2 percent in Houston, the index shows.

The diversity picture was brighter in other Texas cities included in the U.S. New & World Report index, which measured racial and ethnic diversity in U.S. cities with at least 300,000 residents. Arlington saw its racial and ethnic diversity rise 3.6 percent from 2010 to 2018, with Fort Worth at 1.8 percent.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Houston is poised to lead 5G growth in Texas, according to a new report

leading the stream

Based on one key measure, Houston sits at the forefront of a telecom revolution that could spark a regional economic impact of more than $30 billion.

Data published recently by the Texas Comptroller's Office points out that as of last November and December, Houston led all cities in Texas for the number of so-called "small cells." Small cells are a key component in the rollout of ultra-high-speed 5G wireless communication throughout the Houston area and the country.

As the Texas Comptroller's Office explains, small cells are low-powered antennas that communicate wirelessly via radio waves. They're usually installed on existing public infrastructure like street signs or utility poles, instead of the big communication towers that transmit 4G signals.

The comptroller's tally shows Houston had approved 5,455 small-cell sites as of the November-December timeframe. That dwarfs the total number of sites (1,948) for the state's second-ranked city, Dallas.

"Houston is in the vanguard of small cell permitting in Texas, and not just because it's the state's largest city; advocates have lauded its proactive approach to 5G. Other cities, particularly smaller ones, are lagging well behind," the Comptroller's Office notes.

According to CTIA, a trade group for the wireless communications industry, 5G holds the promise to deliver an economic impact of $30.3 billion in the Houston area and create 93,700 jobs. The group says industries such as health care, energy, transportation, e-commerce, and logistics stand to benefit from the emergence of 5G.

"Maintaining world-class communications infrastructure is a requirement for success in a rapidly changing global economy. Small cells and fiber technology are the key foundational components for network densification and robust 5G. Cities like Houston that have embraced the need for this infrastructure will see the benefits of 5G faster than others," Mandy Derr, government affairs director at Houston-based communications infrastructure REIT Crown Castle International Corp. and a member of the Texas 5G Alliance, tells InnovationMap.

Derr says leaders in Houston have embraced the importance of small-cell technology through "reasonable and effective" regulations and processes aimed at boosting 5G capabilities. Three major providers of wireless service — AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon — offer 5G to customers in the Houston area.

"More small cells and fiber provide greater and faster access for the masses, enabling the connectivity that is essential to our businesses today — whether it's accepting payments on a mobile card reader, completing a sale on the go, or reliably reaching consumers where they are," Derr says.

In a blog post, Netrality Data Centers, which operates a data center in Houston, proclaims that Houston is shaping up to be a hub of 5G innovation.

"Houston has always been on the frontline," Mayor Sylvester Turner said during a 5G roundtable discussion in 2019. "It is who we are. It is in our DNA. We are a leading city. We didn't wait for somebody else to go to the moon. Or to be the energy capital of the world. Or the largest medical center in the world. But you don't stay at the front if you don't continue to lead."

Houston lands on list of nation's top spots for millennials on the move

migration destination

The Bayou City is shining as an attractive destination for young people on the move.

According to the fifth-annual study from SmartAsset, millennials are fleeing cities like Los Angeles and Chicago and migrating to other areas in search of work and a better quality of life, with Houston landing as the No. 18 spot for young professionals age 25 to 39.

In order to compile the list, SmartAsset dug into U.S. Census Bureau data from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 180 specific cities. According to the findings, 18,035 millennials moved in to Houston in 2019, while 15,838 moved out. That makes a net migration of 2,197, per the study.

When it comes to migrating millennials, the Lone Star State is tops, landing at No. 1 for states where millennials are moving, with more than 187,000 young people heading to Texas in the pre-pandemic year. Though some 154,000 millennials left Texas during the same time period, this results in a net gain of more than 33,000 millennial residents, the biggest net gain for the group in the country, giving Texas the lead in millennial migration for the second year in a row.

In news that is hardly shocking, Austin landing as the No. 4 hot spot overall.

While Austin ranks as the top Texas city where millennials are moving, one other Texas spot landed in the top 10, the Dallas suburb of Frisco (No. 6), with a net migration of 3,516 out-of-state millennials in 2019.

Dallas just missed the top 10, landing at No. 11 on the list, with a net millennial migration of 2,525 in 2019. San Antonio (No. 22) showed a net migration of 1,865 millennials.

The top city overall for millennial migration in 2019 was Denver, followed by Seattle.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.