Job growth & unemployment

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Posted on 08/22/2022 by Beverly Kerr

  • Austin added 70,900 jobs, growth of 6.0%, in the 12 months ending in July, making it the seventh 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.
  • Austin’s leisure and hospitality industry added a moderate 700 jobs in July, following an extraordinary 5,700 jobs in June. Employment now surpasses pre-pandemic February 2020 by 8,000 jobs or 6.0%.
  • Austin's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 2.9% in July, unchanged from June.

Nonfarm payroll jobs

Austin’s nonfarm payroll jobs total grew to 1,246,000 in July according to Friday's releases of monthly labor market data by the Texas Workforce Commission and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In February 2020, before the impacts from COVID-19, Austin had an estimated 1,142,500 jobs. Combining job losses for March and April 2020, Austin lost 137,100 jobs, or 12.0%. By May 2021, Austin surpassed the jobs total it had in the last pre-pandemic month.[1]

As of July 2022, 33 of the top 50 metropolitan areas (66%) have regained their pre-pandemic level of jobs. Comparing metros based on where they stand relative to pre-pandemic February 2020, Austin, up 9.1%, is the best performing major metro. Dallas (8.5%) and Fort Worth (4.9%) are also in the top 10. San Antonio (2.8%) ranks 13th, while Houston (2.3%) ranks 15th. Philadelphia ranks 50th with July 2022 jobs 3.6% below February 2020.

Texas regained its pandemic-related job losses in October 2021 in the not-seasonally-adjusted series. Total nonfarm jobs are 543,800 jobs or 4.2% above February 2020. The U.S. toped its pre-pandemic jobs total for the first time in May 2022. This month, with a 0.3% drop in not-seasonally-adjusted jobs, jobs nationally total 1.3 million or 0.8% above February 2020.

Austin’s year-over-year increase of 6.0%, or 70,900 jobs, makes it the seventh best performing among the 50 largest metro areas. Dallas is No. 1 with 7.7% growth and Houston and Fort Worth, with 6.1% growth are also in the top 10. San Antonio (4.4%) ranks 26th.

For the year ending in July, private sector job growth in the Austin MSA is 7.1%, or 71,000 jobs, with gains across all major private industry sectors, but one. Austin's sizable government sector (15.9% of jobs) is down by 100 jobs or 0.1%, thus bringing the overall year-over-year job growth rate to 6.0%.

Texas saw net private sector job growth of 6.8% with all private industry sectors adding jobs over the last 12 months. Total job growth was 5.8% as the government sector, which accounts for 15.5% of total state employment, grew by only 0.5%. For the nation, private sector job growth was 4.5% for the 12 months ending in July with all private industries adding jobs. Overall job growth was lower, at 4.0%, as the government sector jobs grew by a moderate 0.8%.

Jobs in July are up by 2,600 jobs or 0.2% from June in the not-seasonally-adjusted series for Austin. In the seasonally adjusted series, jobs are up by 14,600 or 1.2%. Seasonally adjusted jobs are up by 0.6% in Houston, 0.4% in San Antonio, 0.3% in Fort Worth, and 0.2% in Dallas. Statewide, seasonally adjusted jobs are up 72,800 or 0.5%. Nationally, seasonally adjusted jobs are up from June by 528,000 or 0.3%.

In Austin, 10 of the 11 major private industry sectors added jobs over the last 12 months, most notably leisure and hospitality (13.3% or 16,700 jobs); professional and business services (10.6% or 25,300); and transportation, warehousing, and utilities (9.8% or 2,800). Only construction and natural resources lost jobs (2.1% or 1,600 jobs).

Ten private industries in Austin have surpassed pre-pandemic employment and one has yet to regain 2020’s losses. Leisure and hospitality shed 62,200 jobs in March and April of 2020 (45% of all jobs lost). With positive growth in 22 of the last 27 months, the industry finally regained those lost jobs in April. Employment now stands at 142,300, 6.0% above February 2020. Other services is now the lone private industry that has not regained February 2020’s level of employment. Other services stands at 1,100 jobs (2.3%) below its pre-pandemic level. Other services is largely comprised of repair and maintenance; personal and laundry services; and religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations.

Additional graphs: New/lost jobs by industry for Feb. 2020-July 2022 and June-July 2022 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 information (11.8%) and leisure and hospitality (10.9%). All private industries, but one, currently have more jobs now than they did in February 2020, most notably transportation, warehousing and utilities, which is up by 13.4%. Construction and natural resources has yet to regain 2020 losses, with employment 0.5% below February 2020.

Nationally, all private industries added jobs over the 12 months ending in July, led by leisure and hospitality (8.7%). Information and transportation, warehousing and utilities are both up by over 6.6% and 6.4% respectively. Relative to February 2020, nine private industries have recovered pandemic-related job losses and two have not (education and health services and other services).

Over the last 12 months, the net gain for private service-providing industries in Austin is 67,200 jobs, or 7.8%. Employment in goods-producing industries is up by 3,800 jobs or 2.7%. Statewide, private service-providing industries are up 597,800 or 6.6%, and goods-producing industries are up 136,400 or 7.6%.

Labor force, employment & unemployment

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 will not be released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics until August 31. In June, Austin had the 17th 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’s not-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate is 3.1%, while the other major Texas metros range from 3.7% in Dallas to 4.8% in Houston. Fort Worth and San Antonio are at 3.9% and 4.0%, respectively. Austin’s rate one year ago was 4.1%. The rates in the other major Texas metros are reduced from a year ago by 1.3 to 1.8 percentage points. The statewide rate is now 4.3%, down from 5.8% in July of last year. The national unemployment rate is 3.8%, down from 5.7% a year ago.

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

Within the Austin MSA, Travis County has the lowest unemployment rate at 3.0% in July, while Caldwell County has the highest at 3.9%. The rate is 3.1% in Williamson County, 3.2% in Hays County, and 3.7% in Bastrop County.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, Austin’s July unemployment rate is 2.9%, unchanged from June. The statewide rate is 4.0%, improved from 4.1%, and the national rate is 3.5%, improved from 3.6% in June.

Among Texas’ other major metros, Dallas has the next lowest seasonally adjusted July unemployment rate, 3.6%. Fort Worth is at 3.7%, San Antonio is at 3.8%, while Houston is at 4.6%. 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 32,302. The number climbed to 130,460 in March and also exceeded 100,000 in April and May. In July 2022, unemployed stands at 41,574. That is 28.7% above the level of February 2020.

The Austin metro’s civilian labor force (employed plus unemployed) fell by 97,419 persons or 7.7% in March and April of 2020, while persons employed decreased by 195,577 or 16.0%. Labor force now stands at 8.0% above what it was in February 2020 and employed is estimated at 7.5% above. Over the last 12 months, labor force increased 3.3% and employed by 4.4%. Over the last month, labor force increased by 0.2% and employed by 0.3%.

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

Texas’ labor force is 532,455 or 3.8% above pre-pandemic February 2020, while employment is higher by 383,307 or 2.8%. Thus, the number of unemployed is up by 149,148 or 31.0%.

Nationally, civilian labor force and employment surpassed February 2020 for the first time in March. In July, the national labor force and employment are both ahead of February 2020 by 1.1 million or 0.7%. The number of unemployed in July exceeds the last pre-pandemic month by just 37,000 or 0.6%.

The Texas Workforce Commission and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics will release August estimates on September 16.

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. Raleigh also made up pandemic-related job losses by May 2021. Salt Lake City did so one month earlier.

Related Categories: Central Texas Economy in Perspective