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 07/21/2020 by Beverly Kerr

  • Austin added 32,800 jobs in June, narrowing pandemic-related job losses to 74,500.
  • Austin’s leisure and hospitality industry regained 13,600 jobs in June, but employment stands at 73% of its pre-pandemic level.
  • Austin’s 5.0% year-over-year job loss is more moderate than the declines seen in most major metros.
  • Austin's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 6.4%, down from 10.3% in May. The rate was 2.6% a year ago.

Nonfarm payroll jobs

The Austin metropolitan area added 32,800 jobs in June, narrowing pandemic-related job losses to 74,500, according to Friday's releases of preliminary Current Employment Statistics (CES) payroll jobs numbers by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Friday also brought a revision by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas to their forecast of Texas’ job change for the calendar year.The Dallas Fed has increased its projection of job losses for 2020. Last month, the Dallas Fed estimated that Texas’ jobs would decline by 3.2% this year (December 2019 to December 2020). On Friday, the projected decline was revised to 4.8%. Statewide employment in December 2020 is projected to be 12.3 million instead of the previously estimated 12.5 million.

Austin’s nonfarm payroll jobs total as of June is 1,063,400. The last time Austin had approximately the same number of jobs was spring 2018. In February, before the impacts from COVID-19, Austin had an estimated 1,137,900 jobs (38,000 jobs or 3.5% above the same month of 2019—an average trajectory for Austin in recent years). Combining job losses for March and April, Austin lost 128,600 jobs, or 11.3%. Growth in May and June has brought back 54,100 of those jobs.

As dismal as these losses are, Austin’s year-over-year decline of 5.0%, or 55,900 jobs, makes it the eighth best performing among the 50 largest metro areas. Dallas, Fort Worth, and San Antonio also ranked in the top 10 and Houston’s 5.6% deficit ranked 12th. The deepest loss among major metros was the New York (15.7%).

For the year ending in June, private sector job loss in the Austin MSA is 4.5%, or 41,800 jobs, with losses occurring in six of the 11 major private industry sectors. Austin's sizable government sector (17% of jobs) shrank more severely, by 14,100 jobs or 7.5%, thus bringing the overall growth rate to 5.0%.

Texas saw net private sector job losses of 5.5% with all private industries, but one, losing jobs over the last 12 months. Total job losses were only 5.3% as the government sector, which accounts for 15% of total state employment, had slighter losses (4.2%). For the nation, private sector losses were 9.2% for the 12 months ending in June with all private industries, losing jobs. Overall job growth was 8.7% as government sector’s losses were relatively moderate (5.8%).

Jobs in June are up by 32,800 jobs or 3.2% from May in the not-seasonally-adjusted series for Austin. In the seasonally adjusted series, jobs increased by 30,700 or 3.0%. Seasonally adjusted jobs are up by 3.1% Fort Worth, 2.8% in San Antonio, 2.5% in Dallas, and 1.6% in Houston. Statewide, seasonally adjusted jobs are up 225,200 or 1.9%. Nationally, seasonally adjusted jobs are up from May by 4.8 million or 3.6%.

In Austin, five private industry sectors have positive growth over the last 12 months, most notably financial activities (8,700 jobs or 13.2%), construction and natural resources (4,100 or 5.9%); transportation, warehousing and utilities (1,400 or 6.1%). Manufacturing and professional and business services also added jobs.

The greatest number of job losses, and greatest percent change, over the last year happened in leisure and hospitality (37,300 or 27.1%). Information also saw a double-digit loss (5,400 or 13.9%). Education and health services (10,000 or 7.8%), other services (3,500 jobs or 7.2%), and wholesale trade (2,600 or 5.0%) are also notably down.

Compared to our last pre-pandemic month, February, all industries have lost jobs except financial activities, construction and natural resources, and manufacturing. The most notable losses over the last three months are in leisure and hospitality (37,000 jobs or 26.9%), information (14.3%), education and health services (10.7%), and other services (8.8%). Leisure and hospitality added back 30,300 jobs in May and June, reducing what had been losses of 67,300 jobs (48.9%) in March and April. As of June, employment stands at 105,000. The last time Austin’s leisure and hospitality industry had a similar level of employment was 2013.

Statewide, over the last 12 months, only financial activities added jobs, 800 (0.1%). A double-digit loss prevails in leisure and hospitality (15.5% or 220,600 jobs) and three industries—construction and natural resources, information, and other services—are down by more than 8%.

Nationally, no industries added jobs and three industries lost job at double-digit rates over the 12 months ending in June: leisure and hospitality (27.1% or 4.7 million), other services (12.0% or 716,000), and information (10.0% or 288,000). Three more industries are down by lesser rates, but job losses in each range from 1.2 to 1.6 million (retail trade, education and health services, and professional and business services).

Over the last 12 months, the net loss for private service-providing industries in Austin is 48,000 jobs, or 6.0%. Employment in goods producing industries is up by 6,200 jobs or 4.7%. Statewide, private service-providing industries are down 476,200, or 5.3%, and goods producing industries are down 124,000, or 6.4%.

Between May and June, Austin’s private service providing industries added 33,600 jobs or 4.7% and goods producing industries added 2,000 jobs or 1.5%. Statewide, jobs increased by 283,600 or 3.5% in private service providing industries and by 8,900 or 0.5% in goods producing industries.

Labor force, employment & unemployment

We also now have June 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 July 29. In May, Austin had the 17th lowest rate of unemployment among the 50 largest metros. New unemployment numbers show Austin’s performance relative to the state and other major Texas metros being sustained.

In June, Austin’s unemployment rate is at 7.5%, while the other major Texas metros range from 8.3% in Dallas to 9.9% in Houston. Fort Worth and San Antonio are at 8.5%. Austin’s rate one year ago was 2.8%. The rates in the other major Texas metros are elevated from a year ago by 4.8 to 5.9 percentage points. The statewide not-seasonally-adjusted rate is now 8.9%, up from 3.7% in June of last year. The national unemployment rate is 11.2%, up from 3.8% a year ago.

Within the Austin MSA, Williamson County has the lowest unemployment rate at 7.0% in June, while Hays County has the highest at 7.9%. The rate is 7.2% in Bastrop County, 7.4% in Caldwell County, and 7.6% in Travis County.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, Austin’s June unemployment rate is 6.4%, down from 10.3% in May. The statewide rate is 8.6%, down from 13.0%, and the national rate is 11.1%, down from 13.3% in May.

In the aftermath of the dot-com bust, the highest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate reached in Austin was 6.1%. In the Great Recession, the highest rate was 7.5% and rates over 7% prevailed for 12 months.

Among Texas’ other major metros, Dallas has the next lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, at 7.1%, in June, while San Antonio is at 7.3%, Fort Worth is 7.4%, and Houston’s rate is 8.5%. 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.)

In February, before pandemic impacts, the number unemployed in Austin was 33,432 (very close to 2019’s annual average). The number climbed to 138,785 in April. In June, the estimate of unemployed improves to 90,887, which is 162% above the level of one year ago.

The Austin metro’s civilian labor force (employed plus unemployed) fell by 128,719 persons or 10.2% from February to April, while persons employed decreased by 234,072 or 19.0%. Both labor force and employed regained some losses in May and June so that June’s labor force stands at 4.0% below what it was in February and employed is estimated at 8.8% below. Compared to one year ago, labor force is 1.7% lower and employed is 6.4% lower.

Labor force and employment also grew in May and June for Texas and the nation following March and April losses.

Texas’ employment is 876,455 million or 6.5% below last June, while labor force is lower by 164,897 million or 1.2%. Thus, the number of unemployed increased by 711,558 million or 137%. Nationally, June civilian labor force is down by 3.2 million or 2.0% year-over-year, while employed is below the level seen in June 2019 by 15.0 million or 9.5%, and 11.9 million more people (187%) are unemployed.

The TWC and the BLS will release July estimates on August 21.

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.

Related Categories: Central Texas Economy in Perspective