360 Bridge

May 23, 2017 - Job Growth & Unemployment

Posted By Beverly Kerr | May 23, 2017
Central Texas Economy in Perspective Print Article 360 Bridge
  • Austin added 28,900 net new jobs, growth of 2.9%, in the 12 months ending in April, making Austin the 10th fastest growing major metro.
  • Transportation, warehousing and utilities was the fastest growing industry in the Austin MSA, increasing jobs by 7.6% (1,300 jobs) over the last 12 months. Education and healthcare added the most jobs—6,900 (6.0%).
  • Austin manufacturing jobs grew 4.2% year-over-year. The last time manufacturing grew faster was in 2011.  
  • Austin's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 3.3%, improved from 3.6% in March. The rate was also 3.3% one year ago.

The Austin metropolitan area added 28,900 net new jobs, or 2.9%, 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 2.9% growth makes it the 10th best performing among the 50 largest metro areas. Dallas (3.2%) ranked seventh while the other three major Texas metros missed the top 10. Fort Worth grew by 2.6% (13th), San Antonio grew by 2.5% (14th), and Houston grew by 1.4% (32nd) between April 2016 and April 2017.

For the year ending in April, private sector job growth in the Austin MSA is 3.1%, or 25,400 jobs, and with all private industry divisions except two contributing to the growth. Austin's sizable government sector (nearly 18% of jobs) saw slighter growth over the last 12 months, gaining 3,500 jobs or 1.9%, thus bringing the overall job growth rate to 2.9%.

Texas saw net private sector job growth of 2.2% with all private industries, except two, adding jobs over the last 12 months. Total job growth was 2.1% as the government sector, which accounts for over 16% of total state employment, gained 1.8%. For the nation, private sector growth is 1.6% for the 12 months ending in April with all private industries, but one, adding jobs. Overall job growth is a more modest 1.4% because the government sector gained only 0.6%.

Jobs in April are up from the preceding month by 3,900 jobs or 0.4% in the not-seasonally-adjusted series for Austin, while on a seasonally adjusted basis, jobs are down by 400 or 0.0%. Seasonally adjusted jobs are also down in Dallas (0.6%) and Fort Worth (0.3%), but up in Houston (0.5%) and San Antonio (0.4%). Statewide, seasonally adjusted jobs are up 30,400 or 0.2% in April. Nationally, seasonally adjusted jobs rose 0.1%.

In Austin, the industry adding the most jobs is education and health services which grew by 6,900 jobs, or 6.0%, over the last 12 months. Transportation, warehousing and utilities grew fastest at 7.6% and added 1,300 jobs. Also growing at faster-than-average rates are construction and natural resources (4.8% or 2,800 jobs), manufacturing (4.2% or 2,300 jobs)[1], and other services (5.2% or 2,200 jobs). Manufacturing jobs are at their highest level since June of 2014.

Statewide, transportation and warehousing grew fastest (5.3%). The other relatively fast growing industries included education and health services (3.5%), other services (3.3%), professional and business services (3.1%), and leisure and hospitality (2.6%). Jobs declined in information by 4.6% and by 0.2% in wholesale trade over the last 12 months. Manufacturing jobs grew by 1.9% and improving on the 0.6% positive turn seen in March. Before that, Texas had 22 months of year-over-year manufacturing job losses.

Nationally, professional and business services grew fastest, adding 2.9% over the 12 months ending in April. Construction and natural resources, education and health services, and financial activities were also relatively fast growing (by 2.5%, 2.2% and 2.1% respectively). Information jobs fell by 2.0%.

The net gain for private service-providing industries in Austin is 20,300 jobs, or 2.9%, over the last 12 months. Employment in goods producing industries is up by 5,100 jobs or 4.5%. Statewide, private service-providing industries are up 194,500 or 2.3% and goods producing industries are up 23,900 jobs or 1.3%.

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 that we often do a ranking of will not be released until May 31. In March, Austin had the ninth 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 3.2%, while the other major metros range from 3.6% in San Antonio to 5.3% in Houston. Dallas and Fort Worth are at 3.8%. Austin’s rate one year ago was 2.9%. The rates in Texas’ other major metros are also up from the rates seen a year ago, except for Fort Worth, which is unchanged. The statewide not-seasonally-adjusted rate is now 4.5%, up from 4.3% in April of last year. The latest national unemployment rate is 4.1%, compared to 4.7% in April 2016.

Within the Austin MSA, Travis County has the lowest unemployment rate in April, at 3.1%, while Caldwell County has the highest at 3.9%. The rate is 3.2% in Hays County, 3.4% in Williamson County, and 3.5% in Bastrop County.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, Austin’s April unemployment rate is 3.3%, improved from 3.6% in March. The statewide rate is 5.0% unchanged from March. Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 4.4% in April, improved from 4.5% in March.

Among Texas’ major metros, San Antonio has the next lowest seasonally adjusted rate at 3.9%, while Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston are at 4.0%, 4.5%, and 5.5% respectively. April rates are down from March in each metro. 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 April 2016, Austin’s number of unemployed was 31,826. Over the last 12 months, the unemployed have increased by 4,265 or 13.4%, to 36,091.

The Austin metro’s civilian labor force (employed plus unemployed) has increased by 3.0% or 33,470 persons from one year ago, while persons employed increased by 2.7% or 29,205. Texas has also seen greater growth in labor force (2.0%) than employed (1.8%), and the number unemployed increased by 8.5%. Nationally, April civilian labor force is up by 0.8%, while employed is above the level of a year ago by 1.4%, and 858,000 fewer people (11.6%) are unemployed.

The Texas Workforce Commission will release May estimates on June 16.

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[1] The last time manufacturing grew at a greater rate than the growth rate for all private industries was a three month period during 2011. The only other occasions when manufacturing posted faster than average growth rates were before the dot com recession of the early 2000s.

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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.