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 07/24/2023 by Beverly Kerr

  • Austin added 56,300 jobs, growth of 4.4%, in the 12 months ending in June, making it the fifth best performing among the top 50 metros.
  • Austin made up all of 2020’s pandemic-related job losses by May 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 (6.6%) and professional and business services (6.5%) industries.
  • Austin's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 3.0% in June from 3.4% in May.

Nonfarm payroll jobs

Austin’s June nonfarm payroll jobs total is up by 56,300, or 4.4%, 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, May to June job growth was 0.3% in Austin. Growth in Texas and the U.S. was also positive, at 0.2% and 0.1%, respectively.

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 June 2023, 49 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 16.0%, is the best performing major metro. Dallas (12.2%), Fort Worth (9.4%), and San Antonio (7.7%) are also in the top 10. Houston (5.3%) ranks 19th. Cleveland ranks 50th with June 2023 jobs 0.04% below February 2020.

Austin’s year-over-year increase of 4.4%, or 56,300 jobs, makes it the fifth best performing among the 50 largest metro areas. Faster growing Dallas (5.1%) and Fort Worth (4.8%) rank second and third. Houston (3.8%) and San Antonio (3.7%) rank 13th and 16th.

For the year ending in June, private sector job growth in the Austin MSA is 4.9%, or 53,000 jobs, with gains across each of the 11 major private industry sectors. Austin's sizable government sector (15% of jobs) is up by a moderate 1.8% (3,300 jobs), thus bringing the overall year-over-year job growth rate down to 4.4%.

Texas saw net private sector job growth of 4.3% with all private industry sectors adding jobs over the last 12 months. Total job growth was 4.1% 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 2.4% for the 12 months ending in June with all private industries adding jobs. Overall job growth was also 2.4%, with the government sector growing 2.8%.

Jobs in June are up by 10,800 jobs or 0.8% from May in the not-seasonally-adjusted series for Austin. However, in the seasonally adjusted series, jobs are up by a more moderate 4,200 or 0.3%. Seasonally adjusted jobs are up by 0.7% in Fort Worth and 0.6% in Dallas, and down 0.1% in Houston and 0.5% in San Antonio. Statewide, seasonally adjusted jobs are up 31,100 or 0.2%. Nationally, seasonally adjusted jobs are up from May by 209,000 or 0.1%.

In Austin, each of the 11 major private industry sectors added jobs over the last 12 months, most notably leisure and hospitality (6.6% or 9,300 jobs), professional and business services (6.5% or 17,400 jobs), and construction and natural resources (5.5% or 4,400 jobs). The slowest growing industries were financial activities and retail trade, which were up 1.3% and 2.6%, respectively.

Each major private industry sector in Austin has 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 151,300 jobs in April 2023, but is slightly down from that in May and June. The industry’s June jobs total of 149,200 represents 11.2% of all jobs which is slightly below its 12.0% pre-pandemic share. Other services (51,400 jobs in June) regained its pre-pandemic level of employment in May 2022,[2] 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, 39.2%, 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-June 2023 and May 2023-June 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 (6.5%) and information (6.4%). All private industries have more jobs now than they did in February 2020. The best performing industry since the pandemic is transportation, warehousing and utilities, which is up by 17.8% from February 2020. Construction and natural resources, the last industry to recover, now has 2.5% more jobs than it did pre-pandemic.

Nationally, all private industries added jobs over the 12 months ending in June, led by leisure and hospitality (4.7%) and education and health services (4.2%). Each industry has now regained pre-pandemic levels of employment. Leisure and hospitality finally recovered the jobs lost during the pandemic in April 2023 and now has nearly one million more jobs (6.0%) than the industry did in February 2020. Other services, the last industry to recover, is now up by 1.2%.

Over the last 12 months, the net gain for private service-providing industries in Austin is 44,800 jobs, or 4.8%. Employment in goods-producing industries is up by 8,200 jobs or 5.4%. Statewide, private service-providing industries are up 401,100 or 4.2%, and goods-producing industries are up 90,700 or 4.8%.

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 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics until August 2. In May, Austin had the 34th 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’s not-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate is 3.5%, which is an increase of 0.4 percentage points above where it was one year ago (3.1%). Rates in the other major Texas metros range from 3.8% in Fort Worth to 4.5% in Houston and their current rates are plus or minus 0.1 percentage point from the rates one year ago. The statewide rate is now 4.2%, as it was in June of last year. The national unemployment rate is 3.8%, also unchanged from a year ago.

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

June unemployment rates are 3.4% in Travis County, 3.5% in Hays and Williamson Counties, 3.7% in Bastrop County, and 3.8% in Caldwell County.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, Austin’s June unemployment rate is 3.0%, down from 3.4% in May. The statewide rate is 4.1%, unchanged from May. The national rate is 3.6%, down from 3.7% in May.

Among Texas’ other major metros, Dallas is at 3.3%, Fort Worth and San Antonio are at 3.4%, while Houston is at 3.9%. 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 June 2023, unemployed stands at 50,414. That is 15.8% higher than it was one year ago and it is 29.2% above what the number of unemployed might be if the unemployment rate matched Austin’s pre-pandemic 2.7% average.

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 14.2% above what it was in February 2020 and employed is estimated at 13.1% above.

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

Texas’ labor force is 6.3% above pre-pandemic February 2020, while employment is 5.5% above. Nationally, civilian labor force and employment surpassed February 2020 for the first time in March 2022. In June 2023, the national labor force is 2.2% above February 2020 and employment is also up by 2.2%.

Over the last 12 months, Austin’s labor force increased by 3.4% and employed by 3.0%. Texas increased labor force by 2.5% and employed by 2.6%. Nationally, the labor force growth was 1.8% and employment increased by 1.8%.

The Texas Workforce Commission and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics will release July estimates on August 18.

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