Job growth & unemployment

Sign up for the Central Texas Economy Report newsletter

For opportunities with Austin employers currently hiring, see the Chamber's Austin Job Opportunities page.

Posted on 05/23/2023 by Chris Ramser

  • Austin added 51,100 jobs, growth of 4.1%, in the 12 months ending in April, making it the seventh best performing among the top 50 metros.
  • Austin made up all of 2020’s pandemic-related job losses by April 2021 and the metro ranks first for job growth since February 2020.
  • The fastest job growth over the last 12 months occurred in Austin’s leisure and hospitality (11.7%) and wholesale trade (6.5%) industries.
  • Austin's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 3.1% in April, improved from 3.2% in March.

Nonfarm payroll jobs

Austin’s April nonfarm payroll jobs total is up by 51,100, or 4.1%, over the last 12 months according to Friday's releases of monthly labor market data by the Texas Workforce Commission and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On a seasonally adjusted basis, March to April job growth was 0.5% in Austin, while both Texas and U.S. saw positive growth of 0.2%.

Combining job losses for March and April 2020, Austin lost 137,200 jobs, or 12.0%, due to the impact of COVID-19. By April 2021, Austin surpassed the jobs total it had in the last pre-pandemic month.[1] Since March 2022, Austin appears to be at or above the level of employment that might have been projected had there been no pandemic. In 2018 and 2019, the average monthly percent change in nonfarm payroll jobs was 0.33%. The graph below illustrates what Austin’s job trend might have looked like if the pandemic hadn’t happened and Austin sustained that average pre-pandemic growth rate.

As of April 2023, 41 of the top 50 metropolitan areas have regained their pre-pandemic level of jobs. Comparing metros based on where they stand relative to pre-pandemic February 2020, Austin, up 14.7%, is the best performing major metro. Dallas (10.8%), Fort Worth (8.2%), and San Antonio (7.3%) are also in the top 10. Houston (4.4%) ranks 18th. Milwaukee ranks 50th with April 2023 jobs 1.8% below February 2020.

Austin’s year-over-year increase of 4.1%, or 51,100 jobs, makes it the seventh best performing among the 50 largest metro areas. Fort Worth is the fastest growing metro with 4.6% growth. Dallas (4.4%) ranks second and San Antonio is fourth (4.2%), while Houston (3.5%) is 14th.

For the year ending in April, private sector job growth in the Austin MSA is 4.6%, or 49,600 jobs, with gains across each of the 11 major private industry sectors. Austin's sizable government sector (15% of jobs) is up by 1,500 jobs or 0.8%, thus bringing the overall year-over-year job growth rate to 4.1%.

Texas saw net private sector job growth of 4.0% with all private industry sectors adding jobs over the last 12 months. Total job growth was 3.8% as the government sector, which accounts for 15% of total state employment, grew by a more moderate 3.0%. For the nation, private sector job growth was 2.6% for the 12 months ending in April with all private industries adding jobs. Overall job growth was also 2.6% as the government sector saw 2.2% growth.

Jobs in April are up by 7,100 jobs or 0.6% from March in the not-seasonally-adjusted series for Austin. However, in the seasonally adjusted series, jobs are up by a slightly more moderate 6,200 or 0.5%. Seasonally adjusted jobs are up by 0.6% in Ft. Worth, 0.4% in San Antonio, and 0.2% in Dallas; but in Houston jobs are down 0.4%. Statewide, seasonally adjusted jobs are up 33,300 or 0.2%. Nationally, seasonally adjusted jobs are up from March by 253,000 or 0.2%.

In Austin, each of the 11 major private industry sectors added jobs over the last 12 months, most notably leisure and hospitality (11.7% or 15,900 jobs), wholesale trade (6.5% or 3,500 jobs), other services[2] (6.1% or 2,900 jobs), and manufacturing (5.5% or 3,800 jobs). Professional and business services added the second most jobs at 12,800, but growth was a more moderate 4.8%. The slowest growing industries were financial activities and transportation, warehousing and utilities, which were both up only 0.4% and 0.9%, respectively.

Each of the 11 private industry sectors in Austin have now surpassed pre-pandemic employment levels. Leisure and hospitality shed 62,100 jobs in March and April of 2020 (45% of all jobs lost). The industry finally regained those lost jobs in April 2022. Employment attained a new peak of 151,600 in April. The industry’s April jobs total represents 11.5% of all jobs—slightly below its 12.0% pre-pandemic share. Other services (50,300 jobs in April) finally regained its pre-pandemic level of employment in May 2022, one month after leisure and hospitality. Transportation, warehousing and utilities is the lone industry in Austin that did not lose jobs with the onset of the pandemic and it has seen the fastest growth, 38.0%, since February 2020. The large professional and business services industry accounts for 40% of all private sector jobs added in Austin since February 2020.

Additional graphs: New/lost jobs by industry for Feb. 2020-Apr. 2023 and Mar. 2023-Apr. 2023 and the trend since 2000 for six large industries and six small industries.

Statewide, over the last 12 months, all private industries added jobs. The two industries with the most significant growth are other services (7.0%) and information (6.4%). All private industries except one currently have more jobs now than they did in February 2020, most notably transportation, warehousing and utilities, which is up by 17.5%. Construction and natural resources is down 8,300 jobs or 0.8% from February 2020.

Nationally, all private industries added jobs over the 12 months ending in April, led by leisure and hospitality (5.6%) and education and health services (4.2%). Buoyed by strong growth in jobs this month, leisure and hospitality has finally recovered the jobs lost during the pandemic this month and is now 72,000 above February 2020. Now, all but one private industry, other services (down 0.9% or 50,000 jobs) has yet to recover pandemic-related job losses.

Over the last 12 months, the net gain for private service-providing industries in Austin is 44,200 jobs, or 4.8%. Employment in goods-producing industries is up by 5,400 jobs or 3.6%.

Labor force, employment & unemployment

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 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics until May 31. In March, Austin had the 33rd 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’s not-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate is 3.1%, which is an increase of 0.5 percentage points above where it was one year ago at 2.6%. The other major Texas metros range from 3.4% in Dallas, Fort Worth, and San Antonio to 4.0% in Houston. The rates in the other major Texas metros are also higher from a year ago by 0.1 to 0.2 percentage points. The statewide rate is now 3.7%, up from 3.5% in April of last year. The national unemployment rate is 3.1%, down from 3.3% a year ago.

Before the pandemic in 2019, the unemployment rate averaged 2.7% in Austin, 3.5% in Texas, and 3.7% nationally.

April unemployment rates are 3.0% in Hays and Travis Counties, 3.2% in Caldwell and Williamson Counties, and 3.1% in Bastrop County.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, Austin’s April unemployment rate is 3.1%, down from 3.2% in March. The statewide rate is 4.0%, unchanged from March. The national rate is 3.4%, improved from 3.5% in March.

Among Texas’ other major metros, Dallas and Fort Worth are each at 3.5%, while San Antonio is at 3.6% and Houston is at 4.0%. Seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for Texas metros are produced by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. (The Texas Workforce Commission also produces seasonally adjusted rates for Texas metros, but publication lags the Dallas Fed’s estimates.)

In February 2020, before pandemic impacts, the number unemployed in Austin was 32,881. The number climbed to 133,963 in April and also exceeded 100,000 in May and June. In April 2023, unemployed stands at 44,091. That is 34.1% above the level of February 2020 and 23.6% higher than it was one year ago.

The Austin metro’s civilian labor force (employed plus unemployed) fell by 91,603 persons or 7.2% in March and April of 2020, while persons employed decreased by 192,685 or 15.6%. Labor force now stands at 13.6% above what it was in February 2020 and employed is estimated at 13.0% above.

Additional graphs – Labor force & employment: Texas and United States

Texas’ labor force is 6.1% above pre-pandemic February 2020, while employment is 5.8% above. Nationally, civilian labor force and employment surpassed February 2020 for the first time in March 2022. In April 2023, the national labor force is 1.2% above February 2020, while employment is up by 1.9%.

Over the last 12 months, Austin’s labor force increased 3.8% and employed by 3.3%. Texas increased labor force by 2.9% and employed by 2.8%. Nationally, the labor force growth was 1.7% and employment increased by 2.0%.

The Texas Workforce Commission and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics will release May estimates on June 16.

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. The Central Texas Economy in Perspective page provides an archive of past articles on the labor market and many other topics.


  1. Fort Worth and Nashville also made up pandemic-related job losses by April 2021.
  2. Other services is largely comprised of repair and maintenance; personal and laundry services; and religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations.

Related Categories: Central Texas Economy in Perspective