Austin Chamber

October 20, 2015 – Job Growth & Unemployment

Posted By Beverly Kerr | Oct 20, 2015
Central Texas Economy in Perspective Print Article Austin Chamber
  • Austin added 29,300 net new jobs, or 3.2%, in the 12 months ending in September.

  • Seasonally adjusted job growth from August to September is up 0.1% in Austin and 0.2% statewide.

  • The number of unemployed in Austin has declined by 12,073 or 26.2% in the last 12 months.

  • Austin's seasonally adjusted unemployment is 3.2%, up from 3.1% in August. These rates are the lowest seen in Austin since before the early 2000s "dot-com" recession.

The Austin metropolitan area added 29,300 jobs, or 3.2%, in the 12 months ending in September, according to Friday’s release of payroll jobs numbers by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Austin’s 3.2% growth makes it the 11th best performing among the 50 largest metro areas. San Antonio grew by 3.7%, ranking 4th, and Dallas grew by 3.4%, ranking 7th. The other two major Texas metros missed the top 10. Fort Worth grew by 2.0% (31st), and Houston grew by 1.2% (43rd) between September 2014 and September 2015.

For the year ending in September, private sector job growth in the Austin MSA is 3.6%, or 27,300 jobs, and with all private industry divisions, except manufacturing, contributing to the growth. Austin's sizable government sector (nearly 19% of jobs) saw modest growth over the last 12 months, gaining 2,000 jobs or 1.2%, thus bringing the overall job growth rate to 3.2%.

Texas saw weaker net private sector job growth of 2.0% with all private industries, except manufacturing and construction and natural resources, adding jobs over the last 12 months. As with Austin, total job growth statewide is lower, 1.9%, due to the only moderate growth (1.1%) in the government sector, which accounts for over 16% of total state employment. For the nation, private sector growth is 2.1% for the 12 months ending in September, with all private industries adding jobs. Overall job growth is a more modest 1.9% because the government sector gained only 0.8%.

Jobs in September are up from the preceding month by 3,400 jobs or 0.4% in the not-seasonally-adjusted series for Austin, while on a seasonally adjusted basis, jobs are up by 1,000 or 0.1%. Statewide, seasonally adjusted jobs are up 26,600 or 0.2%. Jobs are also up in Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio—each by 0.4%. Jobs declined in Houston, by 0.2%. Nationally, seasonally adjusted jobs rose 0.1% in September.

In Austin, the industry adding the most jobs and growing fastest is professional and business services which grew by 10,200 jobs or 6.7%, over the last 12 months. Also growing at faster-than-average rates are leisure and hospitality (4.4% or 4,800 jobs) and education and health services (4.4% or 4,700 jobs). The manufacturing sector lost 400 jobs or 0.7%.

Statewide, education and health services grew fastest and added the most jobs, 4.9% or 75,000 jobs. The other relatively fast growing industries were leisure and hospitality (up 4.7%); retail trade and information (both up 2.9%); professional and business services (2.8%); and transportation, warehousing and utilities (2.5%). Manufacturing declined by 30,800 jobs (-3.5%) and construction and natural resources declined by 17,400 jobs (-1.8%).

Nationally, professional and business services grew fastest and added the most jobs (3.1% or 604,000 jobs) over the 12 months ending in September. Leisure and hospitality (2.9%); transportation, warehousing and utilities (2.6%); and education and health services (2.6%) also grew at faster-than-average rates. No industry lost jobs. In contrast to Austin and Texas, manufacturing grew by 0.7%.

The net gain for private service-providing industries in Austin is 26,900 jobs, or 4.2%, over the last 12 months. Employment in goods producing industries is up by 400 jobs or 0.4%. Statewide, private service-providing industries are up 246,800 or 3.1%, but goods producing industries are down 48,200 jobs or -2.6%.

We also now have September 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, October 28. In August, Austin had the lowest rate of unemployment among the 50 largest metros.

Unemployment numbers for September show Austin’s performance relative to the state and other major Texas metros being sustained. In September, Austin is at 3.3%, while the other major metros range from 3.7% in San Antonio to 4.6% in Houston. Dallas and Fort Worth are at 3.8% and 4.1% respectively. Austin’s rate one year ago was 4.1%. The rates in Texas’ other major metros are 0.1 (Houston) to 1.0 (Dallas) percentage points improved on the rates seen a year ago. The statewide not-seasonally-adjusted rate is now 4.4%, compared to 4.9% in September of last year. The September national rate is 4.9% compared to 5.7% a year ago.

In 2007, before the impact of the Great Recession, unemployment averaged 3.6% in Austin, 4.3% in Texas, and 4.6% nationally. Based on average rates for the first eight months of 2015, unemployment is lower in Austin (3.3%) than before the recession. Texas’ unemployment is the same as it averaged in 2007, while the nation, with unemployment averaging 5.4%, still has ground to make up.

Within the Austin MSA, Travis County has the lowest unemployment rate in September, at 3.2%, while Caldwell County has the highest at 4.1%. The rate is 3.4% in Williamson and Hays Counties and 3.7% in Bastrop County.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, Austin’s September unemployment rate is 3.2%, up from 3.1% in August. Rates have been 3.1% or 3.2% since May. Austin has not seen unemployment this low since early 2001, before the “dot-com” recession. The statewide rate is 4.2%, up from 4.1% in August. Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 5.1%, unchanged from August.

San Antonio has the next lowest seasonally adjusted rate at 3.6%, while Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston are at 3.7%, 4.0% and 4.4% respectively. September rates are up from August in Austin, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio (by 0.1), and unchanged in Dallas. 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 has also declined. In September 2014, Austin’s number of unemployed was 43,082. Over the last 12 months, the unemployed have decreased by 12,073 or 26.2%, to 34,421. The number of unemployed in Austin averaged more than 60,000 for three years running during the Great Recession.

The Austin metro’s civilian labor force (employed plus unemployed) has increased by 0.2% or 2,269 persons from one year age, while persons employed increased by 1.4% or 14,342. Texas saw positive growth in employed (0.5%) while labor force declined by 0.5%, and 124,131 fewer people (17.9%) are unemployed. Nationally, September civilian labor force is up by 0.6%, while employed is above the level of a year ago by 1.8%, and over 1.6 million fewer people (16.6%) are unemployed.

Texas Workforce Commission will release October estimates on November 20.

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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.

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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.