Thousands of visitors flocked to Yanaguana Garden for the day-long celebration of Texas culture. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone
A child is spun at Yanaguana Park at Hemisfair. Credit: Kathryn Boyd-Batstone / San Antonio Report

Ray Perryman, the state’s best-known economic forecaster, told a North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce audience Friday morning that the city is poised for robust growth over the next five years, with job creation keeping pace with a continuing population influx.

Perryman is president and CEO of the Waco-based Perryman Group, an economics and financial analysis group that includes some 20 senior economists who work with Fortune 500 companies, financial institutions, law firms, local government entities, and others. Friday’s talk was sponsored by Amegy Bank San Antonio.

Friday’s presentation by Perryman at the Petroleum Club of San Antonio was the 20th consecutive year that he delivered the keynote address at the North SA Chamber’s annual Economic Outlook Conference.

“The San Antonio area is well positioned for long-term expansion, with a diverse mix of large and stable cornerstone industries as well as rapidly emerging growth segments,” Perryman said. “While the area has been affected by the slowing in the Eagle Ford Shale given lower oil prices, there is reason to believe that there will be some recovery for the regional energy segment over time.

“Our latest short-term forecast is calling for growth in population at a 1.80% annual rate over the next five years, which will result in the addition of nearly 223,500 new residents between 2016 and 2021,” Perryman said. “For employment, I expect a 2.19% yearly rate of expansion, which will lead to the creation of more than 122,200 net new jobs. All major industry groups are projected to see significant growth.”

Job creation and the quality of those jobs are key measures for the metro area’s continuing growth, and the work that business, government, and civic leaders have undertaken to brand San Antonio a destination city for educated workers and their families.

Ray Perryman and Amegy Bank CEO David McGee.
Ray Perryman (left) and Amegy Bank CEO David McGee. Credit: Courtesy / North SA Chamber

“I would also note that the recent efforts on water availability, the dynamic new leadership at the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, the tourism promotions, and other factors indicate the type of leadership is being put in place that can positively affect the growth of the area,” Perryman said.

San Antonio’s current city population is nearing 1.5 million people, according to U.S. census figures, and the larger metropolitan statistical area population is now 2.4 million people. The San Antonio-New Braunfels MSA, a U.S. Census designation that ties all the I-35 corridor cities north to New Braunfels with San Antonio, is expected to grow by one million over the next 25 years, according to projections regularly cited by local government and economic development officials.

“Our projections are roughly in line with those,” Perryman told the Rivard Report after his talk. “I just checked our most recent simulation, and we are projecting the population to be about 3.58 million by 2040.  I suspect the confusion lies in the interpretation of the growth rates. Note that the growth rates we use are compound annual growth rates, meaning they reflect changes in the base from which growth is calculated. Over time, as the population expands, the same rate of growth in percentage terms would mean the addition of a greater number of residents each year.”

Perryman also commented on the outcome of the Nov. 8 presidential election, acknowledging that he, too, was surprised by the outcome, and doesn’t think local economy-watchers should be unduly worried by who is in the White House. The post-election stock market surge, he said, reflects activity by investors still sorting out the election’s meaning while demonstrating confidence in the overall economy.

Perryman did say a forced deportation of undocumented Mexican workers would damage the Texas economy, with an estimated 900,000 immigrants filling jobs that Texans are not interested in taking at prevailing wage levels.

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Robert Rivard

Robert Rivard, co-founder of the San Antonio Report, is now a freelance journalist.