The Port of Houston Authority reported a 143 percent increase in its amount of steel tonnage from February to March 2012, and an increase in total tonnage at the port of more than 26 percent during that time period.

As with many recent growth stories in the local Houston economy, the Port's successes are tied to trends in the oil & gas industry. Ricky Kunz, vice president of trade development and marketing for the port authority, stated that, "You can attribute the tonnage primarily to the shale plays that are occurring in the United States for the drilling for gas. If the construction business was doing better, we would see even better numbers. But that's still coming, and we expect that to turn around."

In addition, the port authority reported that import cargoes of consumer goods are also rising. Kunz says that's a sign consumers are growing more comfortable with the economy and more willing to spend.

These numbers bode well for Houston economy, which has reverted back to growth mode after the 2008-2010 recession, as well as the larger US economy, which is showing signs of strength recently with improving unemployment and manufacturing figures.