Job Growth & Unemployment

Posted on 08/22/2017 by Beverly Kerr

  • Austin added 24,400 net new jobs, growth of 2.4%, in the 12 months ending in July, making Austin the 18th fastest growing major metro.
  • Construction and natural resources was the fastest growing industry in the Austin MSA, increasing jobs by 7.0% (4,200 jobs) over the last 12 months. Education and healthcare added the most jobs—6,000 (5.2%).
  • Austin manufacturing jobs grew 3.5% year-over-year, outpacing private industry growth for the fourth month in a row.
  • Austin's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 2.8%, improved from 2.9% in June. The rate was 3.3% one year ago.

The Austin metropolitan area added 24,400 net new jobs, or 2.4%, in the 12 months ending in July, 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 2.4% growth makes it the 18th best performing among the 50 largest metro areas. Dallas and Fort Worth (both gaining 3.1%) ranked fifth and sixth, while the other two major Texas metros missed the top ten. San Antonio grew by 1.9% (32nd), while Houston grew by 1.8% (33rd) between July 2016 and July 2017.

For the year ending in July, private sector job growth in the Austin MSA is 2.6%, or 21,300 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 3,100 jobs or 1.8%, thus bringing the overall job growth rate to 2.4%.

Texas saw net private sector job growth of 2.6% with all private industries, except two, adding jobs over the last 12 months. Total job growth was 2.5% as the government sector, which accounts for over 16% of total state employment, gained 1.6%. For the nation, private sector growth is 1.7% for the 12 months ending in July with all private industries, but two, adding jobs. Overall job growth is a more modest 1.5% because the government sector gained only 0.5%.

Jobs in July are down from the preceding month by 8,200 jobs or -0.8% in the not-seasonally-adjusted series for Austin, while on a seasonally adjusted basis, jobs are essentially unchanged (up by 100 or 0.0%). Seasonally adjusted jobs are up by 0.5% in Fort Worth, up by 0.2% in Dallas and San Antonio, and down by 0.2% in Houston. Statewide, seasonally adjusted jobs are up 19,600 or 0.2% in July. Nationally, seasonally adjusted jobs rose 0.1%.

In Austin, the industry adding the most jobs is education and health services which grew by 6,000 jobs, or 5.2%, over the last 12 months. Construction and natural resources grew fastest at 7.0% and added 4,200 jobs. Also growing at faster-than-average rates are transportation, warehousing and utilities (5.2% or 900 jobs), leisure and hospitality (4.1% or 5,100 jobs), other services (3.8% or 1,700 jobs), and manufacturing (3.5% or 2,000 jobs). For the fourth month in a row, manufacturing job growth outpaces private job growth.[1] The only industry with fewer jobs than a year ago is information (-700 jobs or -2.4%).

Statewide, other services grew fastest, with jobs increasing 4.0% over the last 12 months. The other relatively fast growing industries included professional and business services, manufacturing, and construction and natural resources, which each grew by 3.6%, as well as financial activities and transportation, warehousing and utilities which grew by 3.5% and 3.4% respectively. Jobs declined in information (5.2%) and retail trade (0.3%).

Nationally, construction and natural resources grew fastest, adding 3.1% over the 12 months ending in July. Professional and business services (2.9%), education and health services (2.3%), and leisure and hospitality (2.1%) were also relatively fast growing. Information jobs fell by 1.7% and retail trade jobs are down 0.1%.

The net gain for private service-providing industries in Austin is 15,100 jobs, or 2.1%, over the last 12 months. Employment in goods producing industries is up by 6,200 jobs or 5.3%. Statewide, private service-providing industries are up 204,300, or 2.4%, and goods producing industries are up 63,400 jobs, or 3.6%.

We also now have July 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 30. In June, Austin had the sixth lowest rate of unemployment among the 50 largest metros.

Unemployment numbers for July show Austin’s performance relative to the state and other major Texas metros being sustained. In July, Austin is at 3.2%, while the other major metros range from 3.7% in Dallas and San Antonio to 4.9 in Houston. Fort Worth is at 3.8%. Austin’s rate one year ago was 3.6%. The rates in Texas’ other major metros are also below the rates seen a year ago. The statewide not-seasonally-adjusted rate is now 4.3%, down from 5.1% in July of last year. The national unemployment rate is 4.6%, improved from 5.1% in July 2016.

Within the Austin MSA, Travis County has the lowest unemployment rate in July, at 3.1%, while Caldwell County has the highest at 4.1%. The rate is 3.3% in Hays and Williamson Counties, and 3.8% in Bastrop County.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, Austin’s July unemployment rate is 2.8%, improved from 2.9% in June. The statewide rate is 4.3% improved from 4.6% in June. Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 4.3% in July, improved from 4.4% in June.

Among Texas’ major metros, San Antonio has the next lowest seasonally adjusted rate at 3.6%, while Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston are at 3.7%, 4.4%, and 4.8% respectively. July rates are down from June in each metro. 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 down from one year ago, the number unemployed is also lower. In July 2016, Austin’s number of unemployed was 39,810. Over the last 12 months, the unemployed have decreased by 3,407 or 8.6%, to 36,403.

The Austin metro’s civilian labor force (employed plus unemployed) has increased by 1.4% or 15,230 persons from one year ago, while persons employed increased by 1.7% or 18,637. Texas has also seen greater growth in employed (1.3%) than labor force (0.6%), and the number unemployed decreased by 91,000 or 13.5%. Nationally, July civilian labor force is up by 0.8%, while employed is above the level of a year ago by 1.3%, and 826,000 fewer people (10.0%) are unemployed.

The Texas Workforce Commission August estimates on September 15.


[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