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December 26, 2018 - Job Growth & Unemployment

Posted By Beverly Kerr | Dec 26, 2018
Central Texas Economy in Perspective Print Article Skyline
  • Austin added 35,200 net new jobs, growth of 3.3%, in the 12 months ending in November, making Austin the seventh fastest growing major metro.
  • Wholesale trade was Austin’s fastest growing industry (14.0%) and it also added the most jobs (7,400) over the last 12 months.
  • Austin's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 2.8%, unchanged from October. Unemployment has been at or below 3.0% for the last 15 months.

The Austin metropolitan area added 35,200 net new jobs, or 3.3%, in the 12 months ending in November, 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 3.3% growth makes it the seventh best performing among the 50 largest metro areas. Houston and Dallas, up 3.7% and 2.8% respectively, also made the top ten. Fort Worth (up 2.0%) and San Antonio (up 1.4%) ranked 20th and 36th.

For the year ending in November, private sector growth in the Austin MSA is 3.8%, or 33,200 jobs, with all private industry divisions adding jobs. Austin's sizable government sector (over 17% of jobs) added 2,000 jobs or 1.1%, thus bringing the overall growth rate to 3.3%.

Texas saw net private sector job growth of 3.4% with all private industries, except information, adding jobs over the last 12 months. Total job growth was 2.9% as the government sector, which accounts for 16% of total state employment, was nearly unchanged (up 0.1%). For the nation, private sector growth is 1.9% for the 12 months ending in November with all private industries, except information, adding jobs. Overall job growth is a more modest 1.6% because of minor (0.3%) government sector growth.

Jobs in November are essentially up from the preceding month by 5,000 jobs or 0.5% in the not-seasonally-adjusted series for Austin. In the seasonally adjusted series, jobs are essentially unchanged from the preceding month (up by 400 jobs or 0.0%). Seasonally adjusted jobs are up by 0.6% in San Antonio, 0.3% in Houston, unchanged in Dallas, and down 0.1% in Fort Worth. Statewide, seasonally adjusted jobs are up 14,000 or 0.1%. Nationally, seasonally adjusted jobs are also up 0.1% from October.

In Austin, the industry adding the most jobs and growing the fastest is wholesale trade which grew by 7,400 jobs or 14.0% over the last 12 months. Also growing at faster-than-average rates are construction and natural resources (10.0% or 6,100 jobs); transportation, warehousing, and utilities (5.1% or 1,100 jobs); and other services (4.6% or 2,100 jobs).

Statewide, construction and natural resources grew fastest (8.7%) and added the most jobs (84,000) over the last 12 months. The other relatively fast growing industries were wholesale trade (up 5.5%); transportation, warehousing, and utilities (5.0%); professional and business services (4.4%); and manufacturing (4.2%). Jobs declined in information by 1.3%.

Nationally, construction and natural resources grew fastest, adding 4.2% over the 12 months ending in November. Transportation, warehousing, and utilities (3.5%); professional and business services (2.7%); and manufacturing (2.2%) were also relatively fast growing. Information jobs fell by 0.8%.

The net gain for private service-providing industries in Austin is 26,900 jobs, or 3.6%, over the last 12 months. Employment in goods producing industries is up by 6,300 jobs or 5.3%. Statewide, private service-providing industries are up 238,500, or 2.8%, and goods producing industries are up 119,800 jobs, or 6.6%.

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 will not be released until January 3. In October, Austin had the sixth 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 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 2.8%. The rates in Fort Worth and Houston are also improved from a year ago, while Dallas’ and San Antonio’s rates are unchanged. The statewide not-seasonally-adjusted rate is now 3.5%, down from 3.8% in November of last year. The national unemployment rate is 3.5%, improved from 3.9% a year ago.

Within the Austin MSA, Travis County has the lowest unemployment rate in November, 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 November unemployment rate is 2.8%, unchanged from October. The statewide seasonally adjusted rate is 3.7% in November, unchanged from October. The national rate is also 3.7% and also unchanged.

Among Texas’ major metros, San Antonio has the next lowest seasonally adjusted rate at 3.2%, Dallas is at 3.3%, Fort Worth is at 3.4%, and Houston is at 4.0%. Each metro’s rate is unchanged from October, except Fort Worth’s which increased by a tenth of a point. 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 improved from one year ago, the number unemployed has also decreased. In November 2017, Austin’s number of unemployed was 32,650. Over the last 12 months, the unemployed have decreased by 258, or 0.8%, to 32,392.

The Austin metro’s civilian labor force (employed plus unemployed) has increased by 3.3% or 38,383 persons from one year ago, while persons employed increased by 3.4% or 38,641. Texas has also seen greater growth in employed (2.7%) than labor force (2.4%), and the number unemployed decreased by 32,861 or 6.4%. Nationally, November civilian labor force is up by 1.4%, while employed is above the level of a year ago by 1.8%, and 636,000 fewer people (10.1%) are unemployed.

The TWC and the BLS will release December estimates on January 18.

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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.