Austin Chamber

December 22, 2015 – Job Growth & Unemployment

Posted By Beverly Kerr | Dec 22, 2015
Central Texas Economy in Perspective Print Article Austin Chamber
  • Austin added 36,100 net new jobs, or 3.9%, in the 12 months ending in November, making Austin the third fastest growing major metro.

  • Seasonally adjusted job growth from October to November is up 0.4% in Austin and 0.1% statewide.

  • The number of unemployed in Austin has declined by 4,101 or 10.5% in the last 12 months.

  • Austin's seasonally adjusted unemployment is 3.3%, unchanged from October.

The Austin metropolitan area added 36,100 jobs, or 3.9%, in the 12 months ending in November, 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 3.9% growth makes it the third best performing among the 50 largest metro areas. Dallas and San Antonio followed Austin at fourth and fifth fastest growing. The other two major Texas metros missed the top 10. Fort Worth grew by 1.2% (41st), and Houston grew by 0.8% (46th) between November 2014 and November 2015.

For the year ending in November, private sector job growth in the Austin MSA is 4.6%, or 34,600 jobs, and with all private industry divisions, but manufacturing, contributing to the growth. Austin's sizable government sector (nearly 19% of jobs) saw modest growth over the last 12 months, gaining 1,500 jobs or 0.9%, thus bringing the overall job growth rate to 3.9%.

Texas saw weaker net private sector job growth of 1.6% with all private industries, except manufacturing, adding jobs over the last 12 months. As with Austin, total job growth statewide is lower, 1.5%, due to moderate growth (1.4%) 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 November, with all private industries adding jobs. Overall job growth is a more modest 1.9% because the government sector gained only 0.4%.

Jobs in November are up from the preceding month by 6,900 jobs or 0.7% in the not-seasonally-adjusted series for Austin, while on a seasonally adjusted basis, jobs are up by 3,700 or 0.4%. Statewide, seasonally adjusted jobs are up 16,300 or 0.1%. Jobs are also up in Dallas by 0.4% and in San Antonio by 0.1%. Seasonally adjusted jobs are essentially unchanged in Houston and down by 0.3% in Fort Worth. Nationally, seasonally adjusted jobs rose 0.1% in November.

In Austin, the industry adding the most jobs is professional and business services which grew by 12,500 jobs, or 8.3%, over the last 12 months. Leisure and hospitality grew fastest, 8.4%, and added 9,000 jobs. Also growing at faster-than-average rates are construction and natural resources (5.1% or 2,600 jobs) and wholesale trade (5.0% or 2,300 jobs). Jobs in manufacturing fell by 1.6% or 900 jobs.

Statewide, leisure and hospitality grew fastest at 4.5% (54,400 jobs). Education and health services added the most jobs 64,500 (4.1%). The other relatively fast growing industries were professional and business services (2.5%), retail trade (2.3%), and wholesale trade (1.7%). Manufacturing declined by 36,000 jobs (-4.0%) and construction and natural resources declined by 20,000 jobs (-1.7%).

Nationally, professional and business services grew fastest, adding 3.2% over the 12 months ending in November. Leisure and hospitality and education and health services also grew at faster-than-average rates, 3.0% and 2.9% respectively. Manufacturing saw the lowest rate of growth, 0.3%. No industry lost jobs.

The net gain for private service-providing industries in Austin is 32,900 jobs, or 5.1%, over the last 12 months. Employment in goods producing industries is up by 1,700 jobs or 1.6%. Statewide, private service-providing industries are up 210,400 or 2.6%, but goods producing industries are down 56,000 jobs or -3.0%.

We also now have November 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 30. In October, Austin had the fourth lowest rate of unemployment among the 50 largest metros.

Unemployment numbers for November show Austin’s performance relative to the state and other major Texas metros being sustained. In November, Austin is at 3.3%, while the other major metros range from 3.8% in San Antonio to 4.9% in Houston. Dallas and Fort Worth are at 3.9% and 4.1% respectively. Austin’s rate one year ago was 3.7%. The rates in Texas’ other major metros are 0.3 to 0.5 percentage points improved on the rates seen a year ago, except for Houston, which has seen its unemployment rate increase (from 4.3%). The statewide not-seasonally-adjusted rate is now 4.5%, the same rate seen in November of last year. The November 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 eleven months of 2015, unemployment is lower in Austin (3.3%) than before the recession. Texas’ unemployment has averaged 4.4% in 2015, just above in 2007, while the nation, with unemployment averaging 5.3%, has a wider gap to bridge in regaining its pre-recession level of unemployment.

Within the Austin MSA, Travis County has the lowest unemployment rate in November, at 3.2%, while Caldwell County has the highest at 4.3%. The rate is 3.4% in Williamson and Hays Counties and 3.7% in Bastrop County.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, Austin’s November unemployment rate is 3.3%, unchanged from October. 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 4.6%, up from 4.4% in October. Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 5.0%, unchanged from October.

San Antonio has the next lowest seasonally adjusted rate at 3.8%, while Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston are at 3.9%, 4.2% and 4.8% respectively. November rates are up by 0.1 from October in Fort Worth and San Antonio and 0.2 in Houston, but 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 November 2014, Austin’s number of unemployed was 39,222. Over the last 12 months, the unemployed have decreased by 4,101 or 10.5%, to 35,121. 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 0.5% or 5,234 persons from one year age, while persons employed increased by 0.9% or 9,335. Texas saw negative growth of 0.8% in labor force and 0.9% in employed, while the number unemployed increased by 0.9%. Nationally, November civilian labor force is up by 0.7%, while employed is above the level of a year ago by 1.4%, and nearly 1.1 million fewer people (12.2%) are unemployed.

Texas Workforce Commission will release December estimates on January 22.

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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.