Hill Country

Inside the numbers: Central Texas jobs data

Posted By Greater Austin Chamber | Aug 05, 2016
Chamber, Economic Development Print Article Hill Country

We were excited to receive a tweet from Bob Metcalfe, inventor of Ethernet and professor of Innovation at the University of Texas.  Bob thought it would helpful to see how this month’s job creation numbers might be reflected in the Austin metro’s individual counties. The job creation data source we used does not break out that data by county. But we still wanted to answer Bob’s question.  It takes a bit of explanation, and clearly more than 140 characters, but here it is:   

The nonfarm payroll jobs data treated in Tuesday’s Central Texas Economy article is not produced by county. That data comes from the Current Employment Statistics (CES) program.

The other data reported on in the article, primarily unemployment, but also labor force and employment, comes from the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program.

While CES does not provide county data, LAUS does. There’s an important difference in concept between CES jobs and LAUS employment. The former is jobs by place of work (counts come from a survey of employers) and the latter is employed persons by place of residence (counts are based on a household survey). CES jobs and LAUS employment don’t always move in concert with each other.

For the 12 months ending in June, CES jobs increased by 38,400 or 4.0% for the metro, while LAUS employment increased by 36,504 or 3.4%. The slowest employment growth was 3.0% (1,144) in Bastrop County. Caldwell grew by 3.3% (588). Growth was 3.4% in Hays (3,239), Travis (22,708), and Williamson (8,825) Counties.

An alternative to CES, is the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), and it was discussed in the “sidebar” to this week’s article. QCEW produces county data. As with CES, QCEW represents jobs by place of work. Publication of QCEW lags behind CES, so the most recent month is for March. The gist of the QCEW discussion in the article was that it is suggesting slower job growth than the 4.0% CES shows for Austin over the last 12 months. The universes of jobs represented by CES and QCEW are slightly different, but QCEW is the primary basis for the revisions that CES undergoes each year in March. QCEW has Austin jobs growing by 2.9% (25,714) in the year ending 2016 Q1. Job growth is negative 2.3% (-186) in Caldwell County, 2.5% (16,573) in Travis County, 2.9% (465) in Bastrop County, 3.9% (2,316) in Hays County, and 4.5% (6,545) in Williamson County.

QCEW data is produced from the records of all employers with unemployment insurance accounts, so it is not a sample survey. However, some industries have workers that are not covered by unemployment insurance.  Supplemental estimates for these industries are incorporated into CES jobs estimates.

Our Economic Indicators page provides an Excel file of LAUS data for the metro and our counties, as well as Texas and the U.S. There is also a file of metro, state and national CES nonfarm jobs by industry data. County level QCEW data is not handled in our economic indicators files, but can be found here on the website of the Texas Workforce Commission.

Greater Austin Chamber

The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce focuses on how the Austin Region works. We serve as the voice of business for 2,800 organizations representing a combined workforce of about 330,000 employees throughout Central Texas. Our mission is to provide leadership that facilitates the creation of a prosperous regional economy and effective advocacy for members.