Job Growth & Unemployment

Posted on 06/20/2017 by Beverly Kerr

  • Austin added 28,300 net new jobs, growth of 2.8%, in the 12 months ending in May, making Austin the 12th fastest growing major metro.
  • Transportation, warehousing and utilities was the fastest growing industry in the Austin MSA, increasing jobs by 6.7% (1,100 jobs) over the last 12 months. Education and healthcare added the most jobs—6,400 (5.5%).
  • Outpacing private industry growth for the second month in a row.Austin manufacturing jobs grew 3.2% year-over-year.
  • Austin's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 3.3%, unchanged from April. The rate was 3.1% one year ago.

The Austin metropolitan area added 28,300 net new jobs, or 2.8%, in the 12 months ending in May, 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 2.8% growth makes it the 12th best performing among the 50 largest metro areas. Dallas (3.6%) ranked fourth, while the other three major Texas metros missed the top ten. Fort Worth and San Antonio both grew by 2.5% (ranking 13th and 14th), while Houston grew by 1.5% (36th) between May 2016 and May 2017.

For the year ending in May, private sector job growth in the Austin MSA is 3.0%, or 24,800 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 2.8%.

Texas saw net private sector job growth of 2.3% with all private industries, except one, adding jobs over the last 12 months. Total job growth was 2.2% as the government sector, which accounts for over 16% of total state employment, gained 1.8%. For the nation, private sector growth is 1.7% for the 12 months ending in May with all private industries, but one, adding jobs. Overall job growth is a more modest 1.5% because the government sector gained only 0.4%.

Jobs in May are up from the preceding month by 1,200 jobs or 0.1% in the not-seasonally-adjusted series for Austin, while on a seasonally adjusted basis, jobs are unchanged. Seasonally adjusted jobs are also unchanged in San Antonio, but up in Houston (0.2%), Dallas (0.5%), and Fort Worth (0.5%). Statewide, seasonally adjusted jobs are up 14,800 or 0.1% in May. Nationally, seasonally adjusted jobs also rose 0.1%.

In Austin, the industry adding the most jobs is education and health services which grew by 6,400 jobs, or 5.5%, over the last 12 months. Transportation, warehousing and utilities grew fastest at 6.7% and added 1,100 jobs. Also growing at faster-than-average rates are construction and natural resources (5.1% or 3,000 jobs), other services (4.3% or 1,900 jobs), leisure and hospitality (3.7% or 4,500 jobs), and manufacturing (3.2% or 1,800 jobs). For the second month in a row, manufacturing job growth outpaces private job growth.[1] The industries with fewer jobs than a year ago are information (-700 jobs or -2.5%) and wholesale trade (-100 jobs or -0.2%).

Statewide, transportation and warehousing grew fastest (4.9%). The other relatively fast growing industries included professional and business services (3.3%), education and health services (3.0%), financial activities (2.9%), leisure and hospitality (2.8%), and other services (2.5%). Jobs declined in information by 4.9% over the last 12 months. Manufacturing jobs grew by 2.0% and growth was also positive in March and April. Before that, Texas had 22 months of year-over-year manufacturing job losses.

Nationally, professional and business services grew fastest, adding 3.1% over the 12 months ending in May. Construction and natural resources (3.0%), education and health services (2.3%), leisure and hospitality (2.1%) and financial activities (2.0%) were also relatively fast growing. Information jobs fell by 0.7%.

The net gain for private service-providing industries in Austin is 20,000 jobs, or 2.8%, over the last 12 months. Employment in goods producing industries is up by 4,800 jobs or 4.2%. Statewide, private service-providing industries are up 193,600 or 2.3% and goods producing industries are up 39,300 jobs or 2.2%.

We also now have May 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 June 28. In April, Austin had the eighth lowest rate of unemployment among the 50 largest metros.

Unemployment numbers for May show Austin’s performance relative to the state and other major Texas metros being sustained. In May, Austin is at 3.2%, while the other major metros range from 3.6% in San Antonio to 5.1% 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. The statewide not-seasonally-adjusted rate is now 4.4%, up from 4.3% in May of last year. The national unemployment rate is 4.1%, improved from 4.5% in May 2016.

Within the Austin MSA, Travis County has the lowest unemployment rate in May, at 3.1%, while Caldwell County has the highest at 3.9%. The rate is 3.3% in Hays and Williamson Counties and 3.5% in Bastrop County.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, Austin’s May unemployment rate is 3.3%, unchanged from April. The statewide rate is 4.8% improved from 5.0% in April. Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 4.3% in May, improved from 4.4% in April.

Among Texas’ major metros, San Antonio has the next lowest seasonally adjusted rate at 3.8%, while Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston are at 3.9%, 4.5%, and 5.1% respectively. May rates are down from April in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. Ft. Worth is unchanged. 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 May 2016, Austin’s number of unemployed was 32,381. Over the last 12 months, the unemployed have increased by 3,668 or 11.3%, to 36,049.

The Austin metro’s civilian labor force (employed plus unemployed) has increased by 2.4% or 27,029 persons from one year ago, while persons employed increased by 2.2% or 23,371. Texas has also seen greater growth in labor force (1.5%) than employed (1.4%), and the number unemployed increased by 4.5%. Nationally, May civilian labor force is up by 0.7%, while employed is above the level of a year ago by 1.2%, and 835,000 fewer people (8.8%) are unemployed.

The Texas Workforce Commission will release June estimates on July 21.



[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.


Related Categories: Central Texas Economy in Perspective