360 Bridge

April 25, 2017 - Job Growth & Unemployment

Posted By Beverly Kerr | Apr 25, 2017
Central Texas Economy in Perspective Print Article 360 Bridge
  • Austin added 32,700 net new jobs, growth of 3.3%, in the 12 months ending in March, making Austin the 10th fastest growing major metro.
  • Transportation, warehousing and utilities was the fastest growing industry in the Austin MSA, increasing jobs by 6.4% (1,100 jobs). Over the past 12 months, education and healthcare added the most jobs—6,300 (5.5%).
  • Austin manufacturing jobs exceeded 57,000 for the first time since August of 2014.
  • Austin's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 3.6%, unchanged from February. The rate was 3.2% one year ago.

The Austin metropolitan area added 32,700 net new jobs, or 3.3%, in the 12 months ending in March, 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 3.3% growth makes it the 10th best performing among the 50 largest metro areas. Dallas (4.1%) ranked first while the other three major Texas metros missed the top 10. Fort Worth grew by 2.9% (16th), San Antonio grew by 2.4% (21st), and Houston grew by 1.0% (44th) between March 2016 and March 2017.

For the year ending in March, private sector job growth in the Austin MSA is 3.7%, or 29,600 jobs, and with all private industry divisions contributing to the growth. Austin's sizable government sector (nearly 18% of jobs) saw slighter growth over the last 12 months, gaining 3,100 jobs or 1.7%, thus bringing the overall job growth rate to 3.3%.

Texas saw net private sector job growth of 2.1% with all private industries, except two, adding jobs over the last 12 months. Total job growth was also 2.1% as the government sector, which accounts for over 16% of total state employment, gained 2.0%. For the nation, private sector growth is 1.7% for the 12 months ending in March with all private industries, but one, adding jobs. Overall job growth is a more modest 1.5% because the government sector gained only 0.6%.

Jobs in March are up from the preceding month by 9,500 jobs or 0.9% in the not-seasonally-adjusted series for Austin, while on a seasonally adjusted basis, jobs are up by 7,600 or 0.7%. Seasonally adjusted jobs are also up in Dallas (0.1%), Fort Worth (0.4%), Houston (0.3%), and San Antonio (0.2%). Statewide, seasonally adjusted jobs are up 9,500 or 0.1% in March. Nationally, seasonally adjusted jobs also rose 0.1%.

In Austin, the industry adding the most jobs is education and health services which grew by 6,300 jobs, or 5.5%, over the last 12 months. Transportation, warehousing and utilities grew fastest at 6.4% and added 1,100 jobs. Also growing at faster-than-average rates are construction and natural resources (5.7% or 3,300 jobs), other services (5.2% or 2,200 jobs), and leisure and hospitality (4.5% or 5,400 jobs). Manufacturing jobs are up by 3.4% (1,900 jobs) and at 57,100 are at their highest level since August of 2014.

Statewide, transportation and warehousing grew fastest (4.5%). The other relatively fast growing industries included education and health services, professional and business services, other services, which each grew by 3.2%. Jobs declined in information by 1.9% and by 0.6% in wholesale trade over the last 12 months. Manufacturing jobs grew by 0.5% and this is the first instance of positive year-over-year growth in almost two years.

Nationally, professional and business services grew fastest, adding 3.2% over the 12 months ending in March. Construction and natural resources, education and health services, and financial activities were also relatively fast growing (by 2.6%, 2.3% and 2.2% respectively). Information jobs fell by 1.3%.

The net gain for private service-providing industries in Austin is 24,400 jobs, or 3.5%, over the last 12 months. Employment in goods producing industries is up by 5,200 jobs or 4.6%. Statewide, private service-providing industries are up 195,500 or 2.4% and goods producing industries are up 17,700 jobs or 1.0%.

We also now have March labor force, employment, and unemployment numbers for Texas and local areas in Texas. The same data for all U.S. metros that we often do a ranking of will not be released until May 3. In February, Austin had the eighth lowest rate of unemployment among the 50 largest metros.

 Unemployment numbers for March show Austin’s performance relative to the state and other major Texas metros being sustained. In March, Austin is at 3.6%, while the other major metros range from 4.1% in San Antonio to 5.7% in Houston. Dallas and Fort Worth are at 4.2% and 4.4% respectively. Austin’s rate one year ago was 3.1%. The rates in Texas’ other major metros are also up from the rates seen a year ago. The statewide not-seasonally-adjusted rate is now 5.0%, up from 4.5% in March of last year. The latest national unemployment rate is 4.6%, compared to 5.1% in March 2016.

Within the Austin MSA, Travis County has the lowest unemployment rate in March, at 3.5%, while Caldwell County has the highest at 4.7%. The rate is 3.6% in Hays County, 3.8% in Williamson County, and 4.3% in Bastrop County.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, Austin’s March unemployment rate is 3.6%, unchanged from February. The last time Austin’s unemployment rate was as high as 3.6% was February 2015. The statewide rate is 5.0%, up from 4.9% in February. Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 4.5% in March, improved from 4.7% in February.

Among Texas’ major metros, San Antonio has the next lowest seasonally adjusted rate at 4.0%, while Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston are at 4.1%, 4.9%, and 5.6% respectively. March rates are up from February in each metro except for Austin. 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 also increased. In March 2016, Austin’s number of unemployed was 34,426. Over the last 12 months, the unemployed have increased by 6,830 or 19.8%, to 41,256.

The Austin metro’s civilian labor force (employed plus unemployed) has increased by 3.2% or 34,961 persons from one year ago, while persons employed increased by 2.6% or 28,131. Texas has also seen greater growth in labor force (2.1%) than employed (1.5%), and the number unemployed increased by 14.3%. Nationally, March civilian labor force is up by 0.7%, while employed is above the level of a year ago by 1.3%, and 832,000 fewer people (10.3%) are unemployed.

The Texas Workforce Commission will release April estimates on May 19.

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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.