Austin Chamber

November 24, 2015 – Job Growth & Unemployment

Posted By Beverly Kerr | Nov 24, 2015
Central Texas Economy in Perspective Print Article Austin Chamber
  • Austin added 32,100 net new jobs, or 3.5%, in the 12 months ending in October, making Austin the sixth fastest growing major metro.

  • Since just prior to the start of the Great Recession in October 2008 (seven years ago), Austin has added 165,800 jobs for a growth rate of 21.0% compared to 11.8% for Texas and 4.6% for the U.S.

  • Seasonally adjusted job growth from September to October is up 0.5% in Austin and 0.2% statewide.

  • The number of unemployed in Austin has declined by 5,093 or 12.6% in the last 12 months.

  • Austin's seasonally adjusted unemployment is 3.3%, up from 3.2% in September.

The Austin metropolitan area added 32,100 jobs, or 3.5%, in the 12 months ending in October, 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 3.5% growth makes it the sixth best performing among the 50 largest metro areas. San Antonio grew by 4.0%, ranking third, and Dallas grew by 3.5%, ranking fifth. The other two major Texas metros missed the top 10. Fort Worth grew by 1.6% (38th), and Houston grew by 1.1% (46th) between October 2014 and October 2015.

For the year ending in October, private sector job growth in the Austin MSA is 4.1%, or 30,600 jobs, and with all private industry divisions, but one, contributing to the growth. Austin's sizable government sector (nearly 19% of jobs) saw modest growth over the last 12 months, gaining 1,900 jobs or 0.9%, thus bringing the overall job growth rate to 3.5%.

Texas saw weaker net private sector job growth of 1.8% 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, 1.7%, due to the only moderate growth (1.2%) in the government sector, which accounts for over 16% of total state employment. For the nation, private sector growth is 2.2% for the 12 months ending in October, with all private industries adding jobs. Overall job growth is a more modest 1.9% because the government sector gained only 0.5%.

Jobs in October are up from the preceding month by 8,200 jobs or 0.9% in the not-seasonally-adjusted series for Austin, while on a seasonally adjusted basis, jobs are up by 4,400 or 0.5%. Statewide, seasonally adjusted jobs are up 20,000 or 0.2%. Jobs are also up in Dallas and San Antonio, by 0.6%, and in Houston by 0.4%. Jobs declined by 0.1% in Fort Worth. Nationally, seasonally adjusted jobs rose 0.2% in October.

In Austin, the industry adding the most jobs and growing fastest is professional and business services which grew by 12,000 jobs or 8.0%, over the last 12 months. Also growing at a faster-than-average rate is leisure and hospitality (5.9% or 6,300 jobs). Jobs in manufacturing were unchanged.

Statewide, leisure and hospitality grew fastest at 5.4% (64,200 jobs). Education and health services added the most jobs 73,200 (4.7%). The other relatively fast growing industries were professional and business services (3.3%), information (2.7%), and retail trade (2.6%). Manufacturing declined by 35,400 jobs (-4.0%) and construction and natural resources declined by 27,500 jobs (-2.8%).

Nationally, professional and business services grew fastest and added the most jobs (3.3% or 651,000 jobs) over the 12 months ending in October. Leisure and hospitality (3.0%) and education and health services (2.8%) also grew at faster-than-average rates. Manufacturing saw the lowest rate of growth, 0.5%. No industry lost jobs.

The net gain for private service-providing industries in Austin is 29,700 jobs, or 4.6%, over the last 12 months. Employment in goods producing industries is up by 900 jobs or 0.8%. Statewide, private service-providing industries are up 244,800 or 3.1%, but goods producing industries are down 62,900 jobs or -3.3%.

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 that we often do a ranking of will not be released until, December 7. In September, Austin had the fourth 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 3.3%, while the other major metros range from 3.8% in San Antonio to 4.8% in Houston. Dallas and Fort Worth are at 3.9% and 4.2% respectively. Austin’s rate one year ago was 3.8%. The rates in Texas’ other major metros are 0.3 to 0.6 percentage points improved on the rates seen a year ago, except for Houston, which has seen its unemployment rate increase (from 4.4%). The statewide not-seasonally-adjusted rate is now 4.5%, the same rate seen in October of last year. The October national rate is 4.8% compared to 5.5% 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 ten 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 October, at 3.3%, while Caldwell County has the highest at 4.4%. The rate is 3.4% in Williamson County, 3.5% in Hays Counties and 3.8% in Bastrop County.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, Austin’s October unemployment rate is 3.3%, up from 3.2% in September. Rates have been 3.3% or lower since April. Austin has not seen unemployment this low since early 2001, before the “dot-com” recession. The statewide rate is 4.4%, up from 4.2% in September. Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 5.0%, down from 5.1% in September.

San Antonio has the next lowest seasonally adjusted rate at 3.7%, while Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston are at 3.9%, 4.1% and 4.6% respectively. October rates are up by 0.1 from September in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, and San Antonio, and up 0.2 in Houston. 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 October 2014, Austin’s number of unemployed was 40,518. Over the last 12 months, the unemployed have decreased by 5,093 or 12.6%, to 35,425. 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 decreased by 0.2% or 1,778 persons from one year age, while persons employed increased by 0.3% or 3,315. Texas saw negative growth of 1.0% in both labor force and employed, and 16,325 fewer people (2.7%) are unemployed. Nationally, October civilian labor force is up by 0.4%, while employed is above the level of a year ago by 1.2%, and over 1.1 million fewer people (12.5%) are unemployed.

Texas Workforce Commission will release November estimates on December 18.

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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.