A recent report funded by the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association and authored by Marco A. Palma and Charles R. Hall of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Texas A&M University, shows the importance of the green industry to the state’s economy. The report, "Economic Contributions of the Green Industry to the Texas Economy", says that despite a slow recovery from the 2008 recession and the state suffering an historic drought, the impact remains huge.

The report estimated total economic contributions of  $16.9 billion for the green industry in Texas for 2010, and that it was responsible for 192,565 jobs and $10.1 billion in "value added" contributions. Value added is the sum of total income and indirect business taxes

The report pegged total output impacts for the horticultural services, including landscaping services and landscape architecture services at $7.3 billion, 85,356 jobs and $3.9 billion in value added revenues.  For the wholesale and retail trade sectors, total outputs were $6.4 billion; 80,423 jobs and value added of $4.7 billion. The largest economic contributions for individual sectors were landscaping services, nursery and greenhouse and lawn and garden stores.

The authors of the report wrote: "2010 was supposed to be the accelerating year in the recovery from the Great Recession of 2008 to mid-2009. The best of intentions, however, was never realized. The national economy grew only modestly and although Texas has fared better than our national counterparts during the recession, we have felt the delayed effects. Weather continues to play a major role affecting the demand for plants and landscape services across the country, but particularly here in the Southwest region."

The grower sector in 2010 grew slightly, but only because of the strong spring season with consumers exhibiting a pent-up demand for color in their landscapes. Trees sales continued to be dismal, with average prices well below breakeven for the grower, said the report.

The tree sector continued to struggle and not much relief is expected until housing turns a corner. Bright spots at the grower level continue to be the bedding plant and perennials sectors.

The shift from hiring landscape services to more do-it-yourself gardening and landscaping was reflected in the landscape numbers in 2010, with that sector experiencing a decline in sales. That trend is starting to reverse, but only slightly as the economy continues to struggle. Look for landscape services to increase in the coming years, though the weather patterns of 2011 (severe drought) have taken its toll on the entire industry as a whole, said the report.

The Houston Metropolitan Statistical Area remains the largest in the state in terms of the green industry’s economic clout, contributing $3.37 billion in revenues and employing 38,257. The Dallas MSA followed at $2.85 billion and 32.415 jobs, more than twice the size of industry footprints in the Ft. Worth, Austin and San Antonio MSAs.

To access the full report, click "Economic Contributions of the Green Industry to the Texas Economy".