Houston boasts a diverse economy, having substantially lessened its dependence on the energy sector from the profound levels of the 1980s and earlier. While energy holds a place in the city's economic picture, Houston also is an industrial, commercial, medical, educational and finance center and is home to half the Fortune 500 companies, according to Fortune magazine (2014). Forbes named Houston the "Fastest Growing City in the United States" in 2015 based on a 4.5 percent year-over-year job growth rate — the nation's fastest — and an economy that grew 3.52 percent in 2014. Plus, Houston's median annual pay for college-educated workers ranks fourth among large metro areas. Forbes has predicted that Houston will be “America’s next great global city.”
Houston was the first major metro area to recover from the recession, recouping all jobs it had lost during the downturn by November 2011. According to the Greater Houston Partnership, the region has added 465,300 net new jobs since the bottom of the recession. In 2015, Houston surpassed 3 million jobs for the first time in the region's history, with jobs in the health care sector nearly doubling, according to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor. In addition, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis in July 2014 said the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown area’s real gross domestic product in 2013 grew 3.7 percent, the highest percentage increase among the five states with the largest real gross domestic product. Houston is also the nation's top exporter, topping New York and Los Angeles. If Houston were an independent nation, it would rank as the world’s 30th largest economy.