Job Growth & Unemployment

Posted on 10/24/2017 by Beverly Kerr

  • Austin added 23,500 net new jobs, growth of 2.3%, in the 12 months ending in September, making Austin the 10th fastest growing major metro.
  • Construction and natural resources was the fastest growing industry in the Austin MSA, increasing jobs by 6.2% (3,700 jobs) over the last 12 months. Education and health services added the most jobs—6,600 (5.6% growth).
  • Manufacturing jobs grew 4.1% year-over-year, outpacing private industry growth for the sixth month in a row.
  • Austin's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 2.7%, reduced from 3.0% August. The last time Austin had a lower unemployment rate was December 2000.

The Austin metropolitan area added 23,500 net new jobs, or 2.3%, in the 12 months ending in September, 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 2.3% growth makes it the 10th best performing among the 50 largest metro areas. Dallas (up 2.7%) and Fort Worth (up 2.6%) ranked second and third, while the two other major Texas metros missed the top ten. San Antonio’s 2.2% growth ranked 15th, while Houston’s 0.7% gain ranked 43rd.

For the year ending in September, private sector job growth in the Austin MSA is 2.1%, or 17,700 jobs, with all but two private industry divisions adding jobs. Austin's sizable government sector (nearly 18% of jobs) saw greater growth over the last 12 months, gaining 5,800 jobs or 3.3%, thus bringing the overall job growth rate to 2.3%.

Texas saw net private sector job growth of 2.3% with all private industries, except two, adding jobs over the last 12 months. Total job growth was 2.1% as the government sector, which accounts for over 16% of total state employment, gained only 1.4%. For the nation, private sector growth is 1.4% for the 12 months ending in September with all private industries, but one, adding jobs. Overall job growth is a more modest 1.2% because government sector growth was only 0.2%.

Jobs in September are up from the preceding month by 8,300 jobs or 0.8% in the not-seasonally-adjusted series for Austin. In the seasonally adjusted series, growth from August to September is also 8,300 jobs or 0.8%. Seasonally adjusted jobs are up by 0.5% in Dallas, 0.3% in Fort Worth, and 0.1% in San Antonio, but down 0.8% in Houston. Statewide, seasonally adjusted jobs are essentially down in September by 7,300 jobs or -0.1%. Nationally, seasonally adjusted jobs are essentially unchanged from August.

In Austin, the industry adding the most jobs is education and health services which grew by 6,600 jobs, or 5.6%, over the last 12 months. Construction and natural resources grew fastest at 6.2% and added 3,700 jobs. Also growing at faster-than-average rates are wholesale trade (5.8% or 2,900 jobs), transportation, warehousing and utilities (4.5% or 800 jobs), manufacturing (4.1% or 2,300 jobs), and other services (3.2% or 1,400 jobs). For the sixth month in a row, manufacturing job growth outpaces private job growth. 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.

Two of Austin’s industries have fewer jobs than one year ago: information (-900 or -3.2%) and professional and business services (-2,400 or -1.4%).

Statewide, construction and natural resources grew fastest, with jobs increasing 4.8% over the last 12 months. The other relatively fast growing industries included manufacturing (4.5%), other services (4.4%), financial activities (3.7%), transportation, warehousing and utilities (3.4%), and professional and business services (2.9%). Jobs declined in information (5.4%) and retail trade (0.5%).

Nationally, construction and natural resources grew fastest, adding 3.1% over the 12 months ending in September. Professional and business services (2.6%), education and health services (2.1%), and transportation, warehousing and utilities (1.9%) were also relatively fast growing. Information jobs fell by 2.8% and retail trade jobs are down 0.4%.

The net gain for private service-providing industries in Austin is 11,700 jobs, or 1.6%, over the last 12 months. Employment in goods producing industries is up by 6,000 jobs or 5.2%. Statewide, private service-providing industries are up 147,200, or 1.8%, and goods producing industries are up 81,600 jobs, or 4.6%.

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 will not be released until November 1. In August, Austin had the sixth 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 2.9%, while the other major metros range from 3.2% in San Antonio to 4.8% in Houston. Dallas and Fort Worth are at 3.4%. Austin’s rate one year ago was 3.4%. The rates in Texas’ other major metros are each below the rates seen a year ago. The statewide not-seasonally-adjusted rate is now 4.0%, down from 4.8% in September of last year. The national unemployment rate is 4.1%, improved from 4.8% in September 2016.

Within the Austin MSA, Travis County has the lowest unemployment rate in September, at 2.8%, while Caldwell County has the highest at 3.5%. The rate is 3.0% in Hays and Williamson Counties and 3.3% in Bastrop County.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, Austin’s September unemployment rate is 2.7%, reduced from 3.0% in August. The statewide rate is 4.0% improved from 4.2% in August. Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 4.2% in September, down from 4.4% in August.

Among Texas’ major metros, Dallas has the next lowest seasonally adjusted rate at 3.5%, while San Antonio, Fort Worth, and Houston are at 3.9%, 4.2%, and 4.8% respectively. September rates are improved from August 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 the decrease in Austin’s unemployment rate from one year ago, the number unemployed has also declined. In September 2016, Austin’s number of unemployed was 38,536. Over the last 12 months, the unemployed have decreased by 5,270, or 13.7%, to 33,266.

The Austin metro’s civilian labor force (employed plus unemployed) has increased by 2.1% or 23,853 persons from one year ago, while persons employed increased by 2.7% or 29,123. Texas has also seen greater growth in employed (1.9%) than labor force (1.0%), and the number unemployed decreased by 103,343 or 16.0%. Nationally, September civilian labor force is up by 0.9%, while employed is above the level of a year ago by 1.7%, and over 1.1 million fewer people (14.4%) are unemployed.

The Texas Workforce Commission October estimates on November 17.


Related Categories: Central Texas Economy in Perspective