Hill Country

July 25, 2017 - Job Growth & Unemployment

Posted By Beverly Kerr | Jul 25, 2017
Central Texas Economy in Perspective Print Article Hill Country
  • Austin added 28,000 net new jobs, growth of 2.8%, in the 12 months ending in June, making Austin the 17th fastest growing major metro.
  • Transportation, warehousing and utilities was the fastest growing industry in the Austin MSA, increasing jobs by 6.3% (1,100 jobs) over the last 12 months. Education and healthcare added the most jobs—6,100 (5.3%).
  • Outpacing private industry growth for the third month in a row, Austin manufacturing jobs grew 3.7% year-over-year.
  • Austin's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 2.9%, improved from 3.1% in May. The rate was 3.3% one year ago.

The Austin metropolitan area added 28,000 net new jobs, or 2.8%, in the 12 months ending in June, 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 17th best performing among the 50 largest metro areas. Dallas (3.4%) ranked ninth, while the other three major Texas metros missed the top ten. Fort Worth grew by 3.0% (ranking 15th), San Antonio grew by 2.4% (23rd), while Houston grew by 1.9% (39th) between June 2016 and June 2017.

For the year ending in June, private sector job growth in the Austin MSA is 3.0%, or 24,600 jobs, and with all private industry divisions except one contributing to the growth. Austin's sizable government sector (nearly 18% of jobs) saw slighter growth over the last 12 months, gaining 3,400 jobs or 1.9%, thus bringing the overall job growth rate to 2.8%.

Texas saw net private sector job growth of 2.8% with all private industries, except one, adding jobs over the last 12 months. Total job growth was 2.6% 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 June with all private industries, but one, adding jobs. Overall job growth is a more modest 1.5% because the government sector gained only 0.6%.

Jobs in June are up from the preceding month by 4,400 jobs or 0.4% in the not-seasonally-adjusted series for Austin, while on a seasonally adjusted basis, jobs are up by 1,400 or 0.1%. Seasonally adjusted jobs are up by 0.2% in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, and by 0.3% in Fort Worth. Statewide, seasonally adjusted jobs are up 40,200 or 0.3% in June. Nationally, seasonally adjusted jobs rose 0.2%.

In Austin, the industry adding the most jobs is education and health services which grew by 6,100 jobs, or 5.3%, over the last 12 months. Transportation, warehousing and utilities grew fastest at 6.3% and added 1,100 jobs. Also growing at faster-than-average rates are construction and natural resources (6.1% or 3,600 jobs), leisure and hospitality (4.3% or 5,300 jobs), other services (3.8% or 1,700 jobs), and manufacturing (3.7% or 2,100 jobs). For the third month in a row, manufacturing job growth outpaces private job growth.[1]  The industry with fewer jobs than a year ago is information (-700 jobs or -2.4%).

Statewide, transportation and warehousing grew fastest, with jobs increasing 4.5% over the last 12 months. The other relatively fast growing industries included professional and business services, education and health services, construction and natural resources, and other services, which each grew by 3.7%. Jobs declined in information (4.4%) and retail trade (0.1%). Manufacturing jobs grew by 3.2% and growth has been positive for months. 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 June. Construction and natural resources (3.3%), education and health services (2.2%), leisure and hospitality (2.0%) and financial activities (2.0%) were also relatively fast growing. Information jobs fell by 2.3%.

The net gain for private service-providing industries in Austin is 18,900 jobs, or 2.7%, over the last 12 months. Employment in goods producing industries is up by 5,700 jobs or 5.2%. Statewide, private service-providing industries are up 218,100, or 2.6%, and goods producing industries are up 61,400 jobs, or 3.5%.

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 that we often do a ranking of will not be released until August 2. In May, Austin had the ninth lowest rate of unemployment among the 50 largest metros.

Unemployment numbers for June show Austin’s performance relative to the state and other major Texas metros being sustained. In June, Austin is at 3.4%, while the other major metros range from 3.9% in San Antonio to 5.3% in Houston. Dallas and Fort Worth are at 4.0% and 4.1% respectively. Austin’s rate one year ago was 3.5%. The rates in Texas’ other major metros are also below the rates seen a year ago, except Dallas which is unchanged. The statewide not-seasonally-adjusted rate is now 4.7%, down from 5.0% in June of last year. The national unemployment rate is 4.5%, improved from 5.1% in June 2016.

Within the Austin MSA, Travis County has the lowest unemployment rate in June, at 3.3%, while Caldwell County has the highest at 4.4%. The rate is 3.6% in Hays County, 3.5% in Williamson County, and 4.0% in Bastrop County.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, Austin’s June unemployment rate is 2.9%, improved from 3.1% in May. The statewide rate is 4.6% improved from 4.8% in May. Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 4.4% in June, up from 4.3% in May.

Among Texas’ major metros, Dallas has the next lowest seasonally adjusted rate at 3.8%, while San Antonio, Fort Worth, and Houston are at 4.0%, 4.5%, and 5.1% respectively. June rates are down from May in Fort Worth and San Antonio. Dallas is unchanged and Houston’s rate has increased. 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.)

While Austin’s unemployment rate is down from one year ago, the number unemployed has inched up. In June 2016, Austin’s number of unemployed was 38,503. Over the last 12 months, the unemployed have increased by 133 or 0.3%, to 38,636.

The Austin metro’s civilian labor force (employed plus unemployed) has increased by 1.9% or 21,387 persons from one year ago, while persons employed increased by 2.0% or 21,254. Texas has also seen greater growth in employed (1.4%) than labor force (1.1%), and the number unemployed decreased by 4.8%. Nationally, June civilian labor force is up by 0.8%, while employed is above the level of a year ago by 1.4%, and 894,000 fewer people (11.0%) are unemployed.

The Texas Workforce Commission will release July estimates on August 18.

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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.