Austin area adds 18,000 jobs in October; unemployment rate down to 3.4%
U.S. employers increased hiring in October
President Joe Biden met with reporters Friday at the White House to announce a strong monthly jobs report as U.S. employers stepped up hiring last month, adding 531,000 strong jobs. (November 5)
Austin-area businesses added more than 18,000 workers to payrolls in October, continuing a high rate of hiring that pushed the unemployment rate down to 3.4% – a new low for the era pandemic for the fourth consecutive month.
This trend is the latest indication that business activity in the region has fully recovered from the pandemic-induced slowdown, at least at the macro level, economists say.
âIn terms of the economy, the pandemic is basically overâ in the Austin area, said Jon Hockenyos, president of economic analysis firm TXP Inc. Work – that’s how much are you going to get paid âfor the job. to take.
The local unemployment rate, which stood at 3.5% in September, has fallen steadily since June after spending much of the previous 12 months rebounding in a range of around 5% to 6%, according to the figures from the Texas Workforce Commission that have not been adjusted for seasonal factors.
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It remains above its rate of 2.6% in October 2019, before the pandemic. But it improved significantly after hitting 11.8% in April last year, when the shock from the coronavirus first hit the state and country-wide economy and sparked a big number of job cuts.
âAs an economist, I have no complaints with an unemployment rate of 3.4%,â said Dirk Mateer, professor at the University of Texas. âIt is rated as good to excellentâ in most places, even before the pandemic.
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Additionally, the workforce in the Austin metropolitan area, which includes Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop and Caldwell counties, has grown significantly over the past two years despite the pandemic, meaning that new and existing local businesses have absorbed thousands of new workers. who have flocked to the area.
About 1.17 million non-farm workers were employed in the metropolitan area last month, according to the labor commission. This is the highest figure on record and is around 77,000 more than in October of last year and 41,000 more than in October 2019.
There are also plenty of indications that local employers would hire even more people if they could. Online “Help Wanted” offers have reached record levels in recent months, and many businesses in the region have said they have raised wages and offered bonuses in an attempt to attract workers.
âThe (consumer demand for goods and services) is definitely there,â Hockenyos said. “As everyone knows, it’s hard to get a seat in a restaurant (in the Austin area), and the hotels are full and the (airline) flights are full.”
Still, it remains to be seen how quickly the local unemployment rate will continue to fall – and when or if it will hit its sub-3% standard before the pandemic.
Indeed, various factors are keeping some potential workers on the sidelines, economists said, including lingering fears of coronaviruses, the desire for better-paying jobs than before the pandemic, and a mismatch with the skills required by employers.
âTo predict Austin in six months, I think we’ll be close to 3% (unemployment), but not back to 2.6%,â Mateer said. âI don’t think it will happen very easily. It’s going to be hard to scratch that last percent. “
The leisure and hospitality industry, which was hit by travel restrictions and crowd size limits when the coronavirus pandemic hit, struggled to regain all the jobs it lost during the pandemic. In the Austin area, the industry has created about 21,000 jobs in the past year, but it is still about 10,000 less than its total just before the pandemic.
“This is clearly where the pandemic has hit the hardest, and it will be the last to come back fully,” Hockenyos said.
He said companies in the sector may have to adjust to constantly higher pay scales to attract all the workers they need.
Regardless, hiring in many other industries is booming in the Austin area and has more than made up for persistent job losses in the leisure and hospitality industry.
The region’s professional and business services sector, which includes high-tech employers, has created around 26,000 jobs since just before the pandemic early last year. The sector which includes retail trade, which tracks demographic trends, added nearly 15,000.
Local hiring has also accelerated overall.
Job growth in the Austin metropolitan area reached an annualized rate of 10% in the third quarter, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, a substantial increase from 4.9% combined in the first and second quarters. As of July, the region had recouped the 140,287 jobs lost amid the initial shock of the pandemic on an aggregate basis, according to data from the Dallas Fed.
âNew employers move to Austin even faster than workers come to Austin,â Mateer said. âJobs are being created faster than the labor force is increasing – that’s a good problem to haveâ for a local economy.
A number of major business developments have boosted the business climate in the Austin metropolitan area over the past 12 to 16 months.
Among them, electric automaker Tesla is building a $ 1.1 billion manufacturing plant in Travis County – and the company announced last month that it was moving its headquarters to Austin. In addition, tech giant Samsung said it was considering sites in Austin and Taylor for a $ 17 billion semiconductor plant, software giant Oracle said Austin would be the new location for its headquarters, and construction continues on Apple’s billion dollar office campus on West Parmer Lane. .
Statewide, the unemployment rate for October was 5.4% on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the Texas Workforce Commission, from 5.6% in September and 7.3% in October 2020. No Seasonally adjusted, the statewide rate was 4.8% last time around. month.
The Texas Workforce Commission does not immediately adjust its metropolitan area data for seasonal factors. But the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas released seasonally adjusted figures for the Austin area on Friday, which pegged the local unemployment rate last month at 3.7%, the same as September and August.
Overall, the October unemployment rate in the Austin area was the lowest among major metropolitan areas in Texas, according to the Dallas Fed, with the Dallas area in second place with a seasonally adjusted rate of 4. , 6%. The McAllen area in South Texas ranked first among major metropolitan areas in the state with 9%.