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May 22, 2018 - Job Growth & Unemployment

Posted By Beverly Kerr | May 22, 2018
Central Texas Economy in Perspective Print Article Skyline
  • Austin added 36,300 net new jobs, growth of 3.5%, in the 12 months ending in April, making Austin the second fastest growing major metro.
  • Wholesale trade was the fastest growing industry in the Austin MSA, increasing jobs by 11.2% (5,700 jobs) over the last 12 months. Professional and business services added the most jobs—12,600 (7.3% growth).
  • Austin's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 3.0%, unchanged from March.

The Austin metropolitan area added 36,300 net new jobs, or 3.5%, in the 12 months ending in April, 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 3.53% growth makes it the second best performing among the 50 largest metro areas (following San Jose with 3.54% growth). Dallas, up 3.50%, also made the top 10, as did Fort Worth (up 3.0%), and Houston (up 2.8%). San Antonio (up 2.2%) ranked 18th.

For the year ending in April, private sector job growth in the Austin MSA is 4.6%, or 39,100 jobs, with all private industry divisions adding jobs. Austin's sizable government sector (over 17% of jobs) saw jobs contract over the last 12 months, losing 2,800 jobs or 1.5%, thus bringing the overall job growth rate to 3.5%.

Texas saw net private sector job growth of 3.4% with all private industries, except one, adding jobs over the last 12 months. Total job growth was 2.9% as the government sector, which accounts for 16% of total state employment, was up by only 0.2%. For the nation, private sector growth is 1.8% for the 12 months ending in April with all private industries, but one, adding jobs. Overall job growth is a more modest 1.6% because government sector growth was essentially unchanged.

Jobs in April are up from the preceding month by 4,100 jobs or 0.4% in the not-seasonally-adjusted series for Austin. In the seasonally adjusted series, growth from March to April is 800 jobs or 0.1%. Seasonally adjusted jobs are up by 0.4% in Houston and Fort Worth, 0.3% in Dallas, and 0.1% in San Antonio. Statewide, seasonally adjusted jobs are up 39,600 or 0.3%. Nationally, seasonally adjusted jobs are up 0.1% from March.

In Austin, the industry adding the most jobs is professional and business services, which grew by 12,600 jobs, or 7.3%, over the last 12 months. Wholesale trade grew fastest, at 11.2%, adding 5,700 jobs. Also growing at faster-than-average rates are transportation, warehousing and utilities (7.2% or 1,400 jobs); leisure and hospitality (6.3% or 7900 jobs); other services (5.2% or 2,300 jobs); and construction and natural resources (4.8% or 2,900 jobs). Click here for graphs of the 2012-2018 growth rate trends for the major industry groups.

Statewide, construction and natural resources grew fastest, at 7.6%, creating 70,300 jobs. Professional and business services added the most jobs, 83,100, while growing 5.0% over the last 12 months. The other relatively fast growing industries include transportation, warehousing, and utilities (4.8%); wholesale trade (4.1%); and leisure and hospitality (3.5%). Jobs declined in information by 2.5%.

Nationally, construction and natural resources grew fastest, adding 4.3% over the 12 months ending in April. Transportation, warehousing, and utilities (2.7%); professional and business services (2.6%); and manufacturing (2.0%) were also relatively fast growing. Information jobs fell by 0.9%.

The net gain for private service-providing industries in Austin is 35,600 jobs, or 4.9%, over the last 12 months. Employment in goods producing industries is up by 3,500 jobs or 3.0%. Statewide, private service-providing industries are up 245,600, or 2.9%, and goods producing industries are up 99,300 jobs, or 5.6%.

We also now have April 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 May 30. In March, Austin had the eighth lowest rate of unemployment among the 50 largest metros.

Unemployment numbers for April show Austin’s performance relative to the state and other major Texas metros being sustained. In April, Austin is at 2.8%, while the other major metros range from 3.1% in San Antonio to 4.2% in Houston. Dallas and Fort Worth are at 3.4% and 3.3% respectively. Austin’s rate one year ago was 2.9%. The rates in Texas’ other major metros are also each below the rates seen a year ago. The statewide not-seasonally-adjusted rate is now 3.8%, down from 4.1% in April of last year. The national unemployment rate is 3.7%, improved from 4.1% in April 2017.

Within the Austin MSA, Travis and Hays Counties have the lowest unemployment rates in April, at 2.7%, while Caldwell County has the highest at 3.4%. The rate is 2.9% in Williamson County and 3.1% in Bastrop County.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, Austin’s April unemployment rate is 3.0%, unchanged from March. The statewide seasonally adjusted rate is 4.1% in April, up from 4.0% in March, while the national rate is 3.9%, improved from 4.1%.

Among Texas’ major metros, San Antonio has the next lowest seasonally adjusted rate at 3.4%, Dallas and Fort Worth are at 3.6%, and Houston is at 4.6%. April rates are unchanged from March in Dallas and Fort Worth and improved from March in Houston and San Antonio. 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 the decrease in Austin’s unemployment rate from one year ago, the number unemployed has also declined. In April 2017, Austin’s number of unemployed was 33,406. Over the last 12 months, the unemployed have decreased by 634, or 1.9%, to 32,772.

The Austin metro’s civilian labor force (employed plus unemployed) has increased by 3.6% or 41,872 persons from one year ago, while persons employed increased by 3.8% or 42,506. Texas has also seen greater growth in employed (2.9%) than labor force (2.5%), and the number unemployed decreased by 39,228 or 7.0%. Nationally, April civilian labor force is up by 0.9%, while employed is above the level of a year ago by 1.3%, and 623,000 fewer people (9.5%) are unemployed. Click here for graphs of the 2012-2018 growth rate trends for labor force and employment.

The Texas Workforce Commission will release May estimates on June 15.

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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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.