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November 20, 2018 - Job Growth & Unemployment

Posted By Beverly Kerr | Nov 20, 2018
Central Texas Economy in Perspective Print Article Skyline
  • Austin added 40,400 net new jobs, growth of 3.9%, in the 12 months ending in October, making Austin the second fastest growing major metro.
  • Wholesale trade was Austin’s fastest growing industry (13.5%) and it also added the most jobs (7,100) over the last 12 months.
  • Austin's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 2.8%, unchanged from September. Unemployment has been at or below 3.0% for the last 14 months.

The Austin metropolitan area added 40,400 net new jobs, or 3.9%, in the 12 months ending in October, 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 3.9% growth makes it the second best performing among the 50 largest metro areas. Houston and Dallas, up 3.9% and 3.3% respectively, also made the top ten. Fort Worth (up 2.3%) and San Antonio (up 0.9%) ranked 17th and 44th.

For the year ending in October, private sector growth in the Austin MSA is 4.4%, or 37,800 jobs, with all private industry divisions, except manufacturing, adding jobs. Austin's sizable government sector (over 17% of jobs) added 2,600 jobs or 1.5%, thus bringing the overall growth rate to 3.9%.

Texas saw net private sector job growth of 3.7% with all private industries, except information, adding jobs over the last 12 months. Total job growth was 3.1% as the government sector, which accounts for 16% of total state employment, was unchanged. For the nation, private sector growth is 2.0% for the 12 months ending in October with all private industries, except information, adding jobs. Overall job growth is a more modest 1.7% because of minor (0.4%) government sector growth.

Jobs in October are up from the preceding month by 5,600 jobs or 0.5% in the not-seasonally-adjusted series for Austin. In the seasonally adjusted series, jobs grew from September to October by 1,900 jobs or 0.2%. Seasonally adjusted jobs are up by 0.3% in Dallas and Fort Worth, 0.2% in Houston, and 0.1% in San Antonio. Statewide, seasonally adjusted jobs are up 32,300 or 0.3%. Nationally, seasonally adjusted jobs are up 0.2% from September.

In Austin, the industry adding the most jobs and growing the fastest is wholesale trade which grew by 7,100 jobs or 13.5% over the last 12 months. Also growing at faster-than-average rates are construction and natural resources (8.9% or 5,500 jobs); transportation, warehousing, and utilities (6.3% or 1,300 jobs); other services (5.8% or 2,600 jobs); and leisure and hospitality (5.3% or 6,800 jobs). Manufacturing jobs were unchanged from one year ago.

Statewide, construction and natural resources grew fastest (9.3%) and added the most jobs (88,900) over the last 12 months. The other relatively fast growing industries were wholesale trade (up 4.9%); professional and business services (up 4.5%); and transportation, warehousing, and utilities (4.3%). Jobs declined in information by 2.3%.

Nationally, construction and natural resources grew fastest, adding 4.8% over the 12 months ending in October. Transportation, warehousing, and utilities (3.2%); professional and business services (2.6%); and manufacturing (2.3%) were also relatively fast growing. Information jobs fell by 0.3%.

The net gain for private service-providing industries in Austin is 32,300 jobs, or 4.3%, over the last 12 months. Employment in goods producing industries is up by 5,500 jobs or 4.6%. Statewide, private service-providing industries are up 168,100, or 3.1%, and goods producing industries are up 118,100 jobs, or 6.5%.

We also now have October 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 29. In September, Austin had the 14th lowest rate of unemployment among the 50 largest metros.

Unemployment numbers for October show Austin’s performance relative to the state and other major Texas metros being sustained. In October, Austin is at 2.7%, while the other major metros range from 3.1% in San Antonio to 3.8% in Houston. Dallas and Fort Worth are at 3.2%. Austin’s rate one year ago was also 2.7%. The rates in Dallas and Fort Worth are also unchanged from a year ago, while Houston’s rate has improved from 4.4% and San Antonio’s is up from 3.0%. The statewide not-seasonally-adjusted rate is now 3.5%, down from 3.7% in October of last year. The national unemployment rate is 3.5%, improved from 3.9% in October 2017.

Within the Austin MSA, Travis County has the lowest unemployment rate in October, at 2.6%, while Caldwell County has the highest at 3.3%. The rate is 2.8% in Hays and Williamson Counties and 3.0% in Bastrop County.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, Austin’s October unemployment rate is 2.8%, unchanged from September. The statewide seasonally adjusted rate is 3.7% in October, down from 3.8%, while the national rate is 3.7%, unchanged from September.

Among Texas’ major metros, San Antonio has the next lowest seasonally adjusted rate at 3.2%, Dallas and Fort Worth are at 3.3%, and Houston is at 4.0%. While Austin’s rate is unchanged from September, rates are improved by a tenth of a point in each of the other major Texas metros. 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 unchanged from one year ago, the number unemployed has increased. In October 2017, Austin’s number of unemployed was 31,553. Over the last 12 months, the unemployed have increased by 814, or 2.6%, to 32,367.

The Austin metro’s civilian labor force (employed plus unemployed) has increased by 3.7% or 43,123 persons from one year ago, while persons employed increased by 3.8% or 42,309. Texas has seen greater growth in employed (2.7%) than labor force (2.5%), and the number unemployed decreased by 22,725 or 4.5%. Nationally, October civilian labor force is up by 1.4%, while employed is above the level of a year ago by 1.8%, and 471,000 fewer people (7.5%) are unemployed.

The TWC and the BLS will release November estimates on December 21.

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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.