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December 28, 2017 - Job Growth & Unemployment

Posted By Beverly Kerr | Dec 28, 2017
Central Texas Economy in Perspective Print Article Skyline
  • Austin added 27,800 net new jobs, growth of 2.7%, in the 12 months ending in November, making Austin the sixth fastest growing major metro.
  • Wholesale trade was the fastest growing industry in the Austin MSA, increasing jobs by 9.2% (4,500 jobs) over the last 12 months. Leisure and hospitality added the most jobs—7,500 (6.1% growth).
  • Manufacturing jobs grew 5.6% year-over-year, outpacing private industry growth for the eights month in a row.
  • Austin's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 2.8%, up from 2.7% in October.

The Austin metropolitan area added 27,800 net new jobs, or 2.7%, in the 12 months ending in November, according to last 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 2.7% growth makes it the sixth best performing among the 50 largest metro areas.[1] San Antonio (up 3.0%), Dallas (up 2.9%), and Fort Worth (up 2.7%) ranked third, fourth, and eighth respectively. Houston’s 1.6% gain ranked 29th.

For the year ending in November, private sector job growth in the Austin MSA is 3.0%, or 25,100 jobs, with all but two private industry divisions adding jobs. Austin's sizable government sector (nearly 18% of jobs) saw more moderate growth over the last 12 months, gaining 3,000 jobs or 1.5%, thus bringing the overall job growth rate to 2.7%.

Texas saw net private sector job growth of 2.9% with all private industries, except one, adding jobs over the last 12 months. Total job growth was 2.7% as the government sector, which accounts for over 16% of total state employment, gained only 1.8%. For the nation, private sector growth is 1.7% for the 12 months ending in November with all private industries, but one, adding jobs. Overall job growth is a more modest 1.4% because government sector growth was only 0.1%.

Jobs in November are up from the preceding month by 10,100 jobs or 1.0% in the not-seasonally-adjusted series for Austin. In the seasonally adjusted series, growth from October to November is 7,300 jobs or 0.7%. Seasonally adjusted jobs are up by 0.6% in Dallas, 0.4% in Houston, and 0.3% in San Antonio, but down 0.1% in Fort Worth. Statewide, seasonally adjusted jobs are up in November by 54,500 jobs or 0.4%. Nationally, seasonally adjusted jobs are up 0.2% from October.

In Austin, the industry adding the most jobs is leisure and hospitality, which grew by 7,500 jobs, or 6.1%, over the last 12 months. Wholesale trade grew fastest, at 9.2%, and added 4,500 jobs. Also growing at faster-than-average rates are manufacturing (5.6% or 3,100 jobs); other services (4.8% or 2,100 jobs); transportation, warehousing and utilities (4.4% or 800 jobs); and education and health services (3.5% or 4,200 jobs). For the eighth month in a row, manufacturing job growth outpaced 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 (-1,400 or -4.8%) and retail trade (-1,500 or -1.4%). Professional and business services jobs are up only 1.7% from one year ago. Growth in professional and business services and retail trade, two of Austin’s four largest private industries, have undergone a steady deceleration since around the beginning of 2016. Click here for graphs of the 2012-2017 growth rate trends for the four largest private industries as well as the seven smaller industries.

Statewide, construction and natural resources grew fastest, at 6.0%, and added 55,900 jobs. The industry adding the most jobs was professional and business services which grew by 56,700 jobs, or 3.4%%, over the last 12 months. The other relatively fast growing industries include manufacturing (4.6%), other services (4.3%), financial activities (3.9%), and leisure and hospitality (3.1%). Jobs declined in information by 6.5%.

Nationally, construction and natural resources grew fastest, adding 3.4% over the 12 months ending in November. Professional and business services (2.7%) and education and health services (2.0%) were also relatively fast growing. Information jobs fell by 2.2%.

The net gain for private service-providing industries in Austin is 20,100 jobs, or 2.8%, over the last 12 months. Employment in goods producing industries is up by 5,000 jobs or 4.3%. Statewide, private service-providing industries are up 201,200, or 2.4%, and goods producing industries are up 94,300 jobs, or 5.3%.

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 will not be released until January 4. 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 2.7%, while the other major metros range from 3.0% in San Antonio to 4.3% in Houston. Dallas and Fort Worth are at 3.1% and 3.2% respectively. Austin’s rate one year ago was 3.2%. The rates in Texas’ other major metros are also each below the rates seen a year ago. The statewide not-seasonally-adjusted rate is now 3.7%, down from 4.5% in November of last year. The national unemployment rate is 3.9%, improved from 4.4% in November 2016.

Within the Austin MSA, Travis County has the lowest unemployment rate in November, at 2.6%, while Caldwell County has the highest at 3.4%. The rate is 2.8% in Hays and Williamson Counties and 3.1% in Bastrop County.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, Austin’s November unemployment rate is 2.8%, up from 2.7% in October. The statewide rate is 3.8% improved from 3.9% in October. Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 4.1% in November, unchanged from October. Before this year, the last time Austin’s unemployment rate fell below 3.0% was in January of 2001. The national rate is at its lowest level since December of 2000. The TWC’s (and BLS’s) published time series for Texas’ unemployment rate begins in 1976 and this month and last are the only occasions that the rate has fallen below 4.0%.

Among Texas’ major metros, Dallas has the next lowest seasonally adjusted rate at 3.3%, while San Antonio, Fort Worth, and Houston are at 3.8%, 4.1%, and 4.8% respectively. November rates are above October in Austin, Dallas and Houston, while unchanged in Ft. Worth and San Antonio. 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 November 2016, Austin’s number of unemployed was 35,932. Over the last 12 months, the unemployed have decreased by 4,618, or 12.9%, to 31,314.

The Austin metro’s civilian labor force (employed plus unemployed) has increased by 2.0% or 22,070 persons from one year ago, while persons employed increased by 2.5% or 26,688. Texas has also seen greater growth in employed (1.8%) than labor force (1.0%), and the number unemployed decreased by 100,600 or 16.8%. Nationally, November civilian labor force is up by 0.6%, while employed is above the level of a year ago by 1.8%, and 780,000 fewer people (11.0%) are unemployed. Click here for graphs of the 2012-2017 growth rate trends for labor force and employment.

The Texas Workforce Commission December estimates on January 19.

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FOOTNOTE:

[1] Austin has been in and out of the top 10 major metros job growth ranking over the course of 2017 and Austin's growth has been more moderate than in recent years. Since the preliminary monthly estimates are produced from a sample survey, questions can arise over whether or not the survey is over- or under-estimating local growth. Until the annual benchmark revision process occurs in March of each year, there’s limited additional information to rely on. Last month’s release of nonfarm payroll jobs numbers from the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey, coincided with jobs numbers through June from an alternative program called the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW). While there are differences between the universes of jobs represented in the two programs, QCEW is the primary input to the annual benchmark revision process for the CES sample survey-based estimates. QCEW lags several months behind CES, but with two quarters of 2017 available, we took the occasion in last month’s “jobs” article to consider whether or not the slowing growth CES indicates is mirrored in QCEW. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas produces a seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll jobs estimates series that incorporates “accelerated benchmarking”—that is, they revise, based on QCEW, jobs estimates quarterly rather than annually. With the release of November estimates, the Dallas Fed series is now benchmarked through the second quarter. In essence, the Dallas Fed series does indicate stronger job growth in 2017 than the preliminary CES data from the BLS is showing. The Dallas Fed’s November estimate shows 3.5% job growth over the last 12 months. Year-over-year growth has averaged 3.0% in 2017 according to the Dallas Fed series and 2.7% according to the preliminary CES data. Click here for graphs comparing CES and QCEW, and comparing seasonally adjusted CES estimates to the Dallas Fed’s “accelerated benchmarked” estimates.

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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.