Hurricane Harvey not only destroyed thousands of homes, but also has done extensive financial damage on Texas as a whole. It’s estimated that economic impacts from Harvey are well over $100 billion, making it one of the most expensive disasters in U.S. history.
While Texans continue to battle everyday disruptions like construction, there are other concerns at hand. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said he would propose an emergency 8.9% increase in property taxes to handle all of the storm-related costs.
While natural disasters tend to create more jobs, Texas is an exception. It’s a state where there are more illegal immigrants in the workforce. If they choose to avoid Texas due to the fear of deportation, it could make construction recovery even slower. Unemployment in Texas was well below the national average before Harvey hit, coming in at 4.2%. Taking into consideration a building material shortage due to cuts in manufacturing capacity, and it’s looking like a very long, slow journey to recovery.
Before the storm hit, the Texas economy was already struggling due to falling energy prices. The state slipped into fourth place in CNBC’s annual America’s Top States for Business rankings, which was unusually low for the state. Texas had slowly started making its way back to a stable economy just as Harvey hit, putting its finances back in an unsteady position.
Texas accounted for almost 8% of the U.S. economic output last year, with a GDP of $1.5 trillion. The financial impact of the hurricane could slow the overall U.S. economic growth to 1.8% instead of the projected 2.8%.
Along with having to worry about the financial impact of Hurricane Harvey, Texas is one of the 14 states in the southern portion of the United States that is infested with fire ants, which are now causing chaos across the region. The floodwaters, while killing many other bugs and pests, seemed to do no harm to fire ants. Floating colonies of fire ants, with up to 500,000 ants in one swarm, are working together to ensure their survival. These terrifying colonies float through the waters while climbing onto anything and everything in their path, including people making their way through the floodwaters.