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March 12, 2019 - Job Growth & Unemployment

Posted By Beverly Kerr | Mar 12, 2019
Central Texas Economy in Perspective Print Article Skyline
  • Austin added 27,100 net new jobs, growth of 2.6%, in the 12 months ending in January, making Austin the ninth fastest growing major metro.
  • Wholesale trade was Austin’s fastest growing industry (7.4%) while professional and business services added the most jobs (7,600) over the last 12 months.
  • Austin's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 3.2%, up from 2.9% in December.

The Austin metropolitan area added 27,100 net new jobs, or 2.6%, in the 12 months ending in January, according to Friday's and Monday’s releases of preliminary payroll jobs numbers by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).[1]

Austin’s 2.6% growth makes it the ninth best performing among the 50 largest metro areas. Dallas and Houston, up 3.0% and 2.8% respectively, also made the top ten. San Antonio (up 2.5%) and Fort Worth (up 2.1%) ranked 14th and 18th.

For the year ending in January, private sector growth in the Austin MSA is 3.2%, or 27,400 jobs, with all private industry divisions adding jobs. Austin's sizable government sector (17% of jobs) shed 300 jobs or 0.2%, thus bringing the overall growth rate to 2.6%.

Texas saw net private sector job growth of 2.8% with all private industries adding jobs over the last 12 months. Total job growth was 2.5% as the government sector, which accounts for nearly 16% of total state employment, saw slower growth (up 1.0%). For the nation, private sector growth is 2.2% for the 12 months ending in January with all private industries, except information, adding jobs. Overall job growth is a more modest 2.0% because of minor (0.6%) government sector growth.

Jobs in January are down from the preceding month by 11,600 jobs or 1.1% in the not-seasonally-adjusted series for Austin. In the seasonally adjusted series, growth is positive, up by 2,100 jobs or 0.2%. Seasonally adjusted jobs are up by 0.5% in San Antonio, 0.3% in Dallas, 0.1% in Houston, and down 0.4% in Fort Worth. Statewide, seasonally adjusted jobs are up 15,400 or 0.1%. Nationally, seasonally adjusted jobs are up 0.2% from January.

In Austin, professional and business services added the most jobs, 7,600 (4.2%), over the last 12 months. The fastest growing industry was wholesale trade which grew by 7.4% or 3,600 jobs. Also growing at faster-than-average rates are information (5.9% or 1,900), financial activities (4.4% or 2,700), education and health services (3.9% or 4,800 jobs), and manufacturing (3.8% or 2,200).

Statewide, construction and natural resources grew fastest (5.7%) and added the most jobs (53,300) over the last 12 months. The other relatively fast growing industries were wholesale trade (up 4.3%); transportation, warehousing, and utilities (3.8%); and manufacturing (3.8%).

Nationally, construction and natural resources grew fastest, adding 5.4% over the 12 months ending in January. Transportation, warehousing, and utilities (4.2%); leisure and hospitality (2.9%); and professional and business services (2.6%) were also relatively fast growing. Information jobs fell by 0.1%.

The net gain for private service-providing industries in Austin is 25,100 jobs, or 3.4%, over the last 12 months. Employment in goods producing industries is up by 2,300 jobs or 1.9%. Statewide, private service-providing industries are up 203,900, or 2.4%, and goods producing industries are up 86,200 jobs, or 4.8%.

We also now have January labor force, employment, and unemployment numbers for Texas and local areas in Texas. The same data for all U.S. metros will not be released until March 15. In December, Austin had the sixth lowest rate of unemployment among the 50 largest metros.

Unemployment numbers for January show Austin’s performance relative to the state and other major Texas metros being sustained. In January, Austin is at 3.3%, while the other major metros range from 3.6% in San Antonio to 4.5% in Houston. Dallas and Fort Worth are at 3.9% and 4.1% respectively. Austin’s rate one year ago was 3.1%. The rates in Dallas, Fort Worth, and San Antonio are also higher, while the rate in Houston is improved from 4.9% a year ago. The statewide not-seasonally-adjusted rate is now 4.2%, down from 4.3% in January of last year. The national unemployment rate is 4.4%, improved from 4.5% a year ago.

Within the Austin MSA, Travis County has the lowest unemployment rate in January, at 3.2%, while Caldwell County has the highest at 4.2%. The rate is 3.4% in Williamson County, 3.5% in Hays County, and 3.8% in Bastrop County.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, Austin’s January unemployment rate is 3.2%, up from 2.9% in December. The statewide seasonally adjusted rate is 3.8% in January, up from 3.7%. The national rate is 4.0%, up from 3.9%.

Among Texas’ major metros, San Antonio has the next lowest seasonally adjusted rate at 3.5%, Dallas is at 3.7%, Fort Worth is at 4.0%, and Houston is at 4.3%. Each metro’s rate is up from December. Seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for Texas metros are produced by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. (The TWC also produces seasonally adjusted rates for Texas metros, but publication lags the Dallas Fed’s data.)

With Austin’s unemployment rate up from one year ago, the number unemployed has increased. In January 2018, Austin’s number of unemployed was 36,217. Over the last 12 months, the unemployed have increased by 3,944, or 10.9%, to 40,161. This is due to a larger increase in labor force, compared to employment. The Austin metro’s civilian labor force (employed plus unemployed) increased by 30,098 persons or 2.6% from one year ago, while persons employed increased by 26,154 or 2.3%.

Texas’ labor force and employment growth were both 2.2%. However, the numeric change in labor force exceeded that of employed, therefore the number of unemployed increased by 7,211 or 1.2%. Nationally, January civilian labor force is up by 2.07 million or 1.3%, while employed is above the level of a year ago by 2.12 million or 1.4%, and 49,000 fewer people (0.7%) are unemployed.

The TWC and the BLS will release February estimates on March 22.

The Chamber’s Economic Indicators page provides up-to-date historical spreadsheet versions of Austin, Texas and U.S. data for both the Current Employment Statistics (CES) and Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) data addressed above.

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[1] Annually, in March, the BLS releases revisions to Current Employment Statistics (CES) based on annual benchmarking of nonfarm payroll jobs to the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW). QCEW is a dataset based on the universe of payrolls covered by unemployment insurance, while CES is a sample survey. The benchmark revisions to Austin’s job estimates have lowered recent rates of year-over-year job growth over what preliminary data indicated.

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Beverly Kerr

Vice President of Research, Beverly Kerr, joined the Chamber’s Economic Development Department in 2004, following 10 years in a similar role with the Kansas City Area Development Council. Beverly earned an M.A. in economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.