Job Growth & Unemployment

Posted on 03/26/2019 by Beverly Kerr

  • Austin added 23,800 net new jobs, growth of 2.3%, in the 12 months ending in February, making Austin the 11th fastest growing major metro.
  • Wholesale trade was Austin’s fastest growing industry (8.2%) while professional and business services added the most jobs (6,200) over the last 12 months.
  • Austin's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 3.0%, down from 3.2% in January.

The Austin metropolitan area added 23,800 net new jobs, or 2.3%, in the 12 months ending in February, according to Friday's releases of preliminary payroll jobs numbers by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Austin’s 2.3% growth makes it the 11th best performing among the 50 largest metro areas. Dallas and Houston, up 3.3% and 2.4% respectively, made the top ten. San Antonio (up 2.2%) and Fort Worth (up 1.7%) ranked 13th and 21st.

For the year ending in February, private sector growth in the Austin MSA is 2.7%, or 23,200 jobs, with all private industry divisions but one adding jobs. Austin's sizable government sector (17% of jobs) grew by only 600 jobs or 0.3%, thus bringing the overall growth rate to 2.3%.

Texas saw net private sector job growth of 2.5% with all private industries but one adding jobs over the last 12 months. Total job growth was 2.2% as the government sector, which accounts for nearly 16% of total state employment, saw slight growth (0.7%). For the nation, private sector growth is 1.9% for the 12 months ending in February with all private industries, but two, adding jobs. Overall job growth is a more modest 1.7% because of minor (0.3%) government sector growth.

Jobs in February are up from the preceding month by 10,400 jobs or 1.0% in the not-seasonally-adjusted series for Austin. In the seasonally adjusted series, growth is also positive, up by 2,500 jobs or 0.2%. Seasonally adjusted jobs are up by 0.4% in Dallas, 0.3% in Houston, 0.1% in San Antonio, and down 0.3% in Fort Worth. Statewide, seasonally adjusted jobs are up 17,700 or 0.1%. Nationally, seasonally adjusted jobs are essentially unchanged from February.

In Austin, professional and business services added the most jobs, 6,200 (3.4%), over the last 12 months. The fastest growing industry was wholesale trade which grew by 8.2% or 4,000 jobs. Also growing at faster-than-average rates are information (5.0% or 1,600), financial activities (4.7% or 2,900), and manufacturing (4.6% or 2,700). Construction and natural resources is down by 200 jobs or 0.3%.

Statewide, construction and natural resources grew fastest (4.5%) and added the most jobs (43,300) over the last 12 months. The other relatively fast growing industries were wholesale trade (up 4.0%), other services (4.0%), and manufacturing (3.7%). The information industry lost 3,000 jobs or 1.5%.

Nationally, construction and natural resources grew fastest, adding 3.6% over the 12 months ending in February. Transportation, warehousing, and utilities (3.2%); leisure and hospitality (2.6%); and professional and business services (2.6%) were also relatively fast growing. Information jobs fell by 0.1% and retail trade was essentially unchanged (down by a scant 0.03%).

The net gain for private service-providing industries in Austin is 20,700 jobs, or 2.8%, over the last 12 months. Employment in goods producing industries is up by 2,500 jobs or 2.0%. Statewide, private service-providing industries are up 183,300, or 2.1%, and goods producing industries are up 75,700 jobs, or 4.1%.

We also now have February 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 April 3. In January, Austin had the seventh lowest rate of unemployment among the 50 largest metros.

Unemployment numbers for February show Austin’s performance relative to the state and other major Texas metros being sustained. In February, Austin is at 3.0%, while the other major metros range from 3.4% in San Antonio to 4.2% in Houston. Dallas and Fort Worth are at 3.6%. Austin’s rate one year ago was 3.1%. The rates in the other major metros are also improved from a year ago. The statewide not-seasonally-adjusted rate is now 3.9%, down from 4.1% in February of last year. The national unemployment rate is 4.1%, improved from 4.4% a year ago.

Within the Austin MSA, Travis County has the lowest unemployment rate in February, at 2.9%, while Caldwell County has the highest at 3.7%. The rate is 3.1% in Hays County, 3.2% in Williamson County, and 3.4% in Bastrop County.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, Austin’s February unemployment rate is 3.0%, down from 3.2% in January. The statewide seasonally adjusted rate is 3.8% in February, unchanged from January. The national rate is 3.8%, improved from 4.0%.

Among Texas’ major metros, San Antonio has the next lowest seasonally adjusted rate at 3.4%, Dallas and Fort Worth are at 3.5%, and Houston is at 4.1%. Each metro’s rate is improved from January. 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 down from one year ago, the number unemployed has also fallen. In February 2018, Austin’s number of unemployed was 36,619. Over the last 12 months, the unemployed declined by 77 or 0.2%, to 36,542. This is due to a slightly larger increase in the number employed, compared to labor force. The Austin metro’s civilian labor force (employed plus unemployed) increased by 23,903 persons or 2.0% from one year ago, while persons employed increased by 23,980 or 2.1%.

Texas’ employment growth (282,855 or 2.1%) also exceeds labor force growth (258,572 or 1.9%). Thus, the number of unemployed decreased by 24,283 or 4.2%. Nationally, February civilian labor force is up by 1.30 million or 0.8%, while employed is above the level of a year ago by 1.76 million or 1.1%, and 466,000 fewer people (6.6%) are unemployed.

The TWC and the BLS will release March estimates on April 19.

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.


Related Categories: Central Texas Economy in Perspective