Job growth & unemployment, November 2023

Posted on 11/21/2023 by Beverly Kerr

Insights

Nonfarm payroll jobs

Austin’s October nonfarm payroll jobs total is up by 35,900, or 2.8%, over the last 12 months according to Friday’s releases of monthly labor market data by the Texas Workforce Commission and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On a seasonally adjusted basis, Austin jobs fell by 3,200 jobs or 0.2% from September to October.

Austin’s year-over-year increase of 2.8% makes it the 11th best performing among the 50 largest metro areas. Faster growing Dallas (3.9%), San Antonio (2.9%), and Fort Worth (2.8%) place in the top 10, while Houston (2.3%) ranks 19th.

For the year ending in October, private sector job growth in the Austin MSA is 2.8%, or 30,900 jobs, with gains across eight of the 11 major private industry sectors. Customarily, slower job creation in the government sector drives overall job growth lower than private sector growth in Austin. That was not the case over the last two months with October also seeing uncommonly strong year-over-year job growth (2.7% or 5,000 jobs).

Texas saw net private sector job growth of 2.9% with each of the private industry groups adding jobs over the last 12 months. Total job growth was also 2.9% as the government sector grew at a comparable 2.7% rate. For the nation, private sector job growth was 1.8% for the 12 months ending in October with all but two private industries adding jobs. Overall job growth was slightly higher at 1.9%, due to robust 2.8% government sector growth.

Jobs in October are up by 10,000 or 0.8% from September in the not-seasonally-adjusted series for Austin. However, the seasonally adjusted series shows a decline of 3,200 jobs or 0.2%. Seasonally adjusted jobs are also down in Fort Worth (0.4%) and Houston (0.1%), but up by 0.2% in both Dallas and San Antonio. Statewide, seasonally adjusted jobs are essentially unchanged (down by 1,300 or 0.0%). Nationally, seasonally adjusted jobs are up from September by 150,000 or 0.1%.

In Austin, eight of the 11 major private industry sectors added jobs over the last 12 months, most notably construction and natural resources (8.1% or 6,500 jobs) and education and health services (5.6% or 8,100). Professional and business services added the most jobs, 9,900, but at a more moderate 3.5% rate of growth. Wholesale trade (-3.7% or -2,100 jobs), manufacturing (-0.7% or -500), and information (-0.8% or -400) saw negative year-over-year growth.

Statewide, over the last 12 months, all private industries added jobs. The industries with the most significant growth are education and health services (4.7%) and financial activities (3.7%).

Nationally, all private industries, but two, added jobs over the 12 months ending in October, led by education and health services (up 4.2%) and leisure and hospitality (3.5%).

Over the last 12 months, the net gain for private service-providing industries in Austin is 24,900 jobs, or 2.6%. Employment in goods-producing industries is up by 6,000 jobs or 3.9%. Statewide, private service-providing industries are up 273,100 or 2.8%, and goods-producing industries are up 66,700 or 3.4%.

Additional graphs: New/lost jobs by industry for Sep. 2023-Oct. 2023 and the trend since 2000 for six large industries and six small industries.

Labor force, employment & unemployment

We also now have September 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 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics until November 30. In September, Austin had the 30th lowest rate of unemployment among the 50 largest metros. Unemployment numbers for October show Austin’s performance relative to the state and other major Texas metros being sustained.

In October, Austin’s not-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate is 3.3%, which is an increase of 0.5 percentage points above where it was one year ago (2.8%). Rates in the other major Texas metros range from 3.6% in Dallas, Fort Worth, and San Antonio to 4.1% in Houston and their current rates are 0.1 to 0.2 percentage points above the rates one year ago. The statewide rate is now 3.8%, up from 3.7% in October of last year. The national unemployment rate is 3.6%, up from 3.4% a year ago.

October unemployment rates are 3.3% in Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, and Travis Counties, and 3.5% in Williamson County.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, Austin’s October unemployment rate is 3.4%, down from 3.6% in September. The statewide rate is 4.1%, unchanged from September. The national rate is 3.9%, up from 3.8% in September.

Among Texas’ other major metros, Fort Worth is at 3.7%, Dallas and San Antonio are at 3.8%, and Houston is at 4.4%. Seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for Texas metros are produced by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. (The Texas Workforce Commission also produces seasonally adjusted rates for Texas metros, but publication lags the Dallas Fed’s estimates.)

With Austin’s unemployment rate up from one year ago, the number unemployed has also risen. In October 2022, Austin’s number of unemployed was 40,041. Over the last 12 months, the unemployed increased by 8,681 or 21.7%, to 48,722. This is due to a larger increase in the labor force, compared to the number employed. The Austin metro’s civilian labor force (employed plus unemployed) increased by 49,487 persons or 3.5% from one year ago, while persons employed increased by 40,806 or 3.0%.

Additional graphs – Labor force & employment: Texas and United States

Texas’ labor force growth (452,039 or 3.1%) also exceeds the growth in the number employed (416,180 or 2.9%). Thus, the number of unemployed increased by 35,859 or 6.6%. Nationally, October civilian labor force is up by 3.0 million or 1.8%, while employed is above the level of a year ago by 2.5 million or 1.6%, and 489,000 more people (8.7%) are unemployed.

Conclusion

Recent months have seen Austin’s and Texas’ job growth slow. Austin’s year-over-year job growth averaged 2.9% through the last four months, following an average of 4.4% in the preceding four months. For Texas the averages are 3.1% for the last four months, following an average of 4.0% in the preceding four months. Nevertheless, Austin achieved stronger growth than all but 10 of the 50 largest metros for the 12 months ending in October. Year-over-year growth slowed to an average of 2.0% nationally over the last four months.

Austin’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 3.4% in October from 3.6% in September. Texas’ rate held steady at 4.1% and the national rate ticked up from 3.8% to 3.9%. While the number of unemployed in Austin is higher than it was a year ago, it is at its lowest level since April.

The Texas Workforce Commission and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics will release November estimates on December 22.

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Previous to this month, our article on the labor market releases included tracking of the pandemic recovery in Austin. While the fullness of recovery varies from industry to industry, and the unemployment rate remains above 2019’s average, Austin is otherwise securely recovered from the pandemic. Therefore, we are reverting back to a focus on month-over-month and year-over-year trends. If you would like to review post-pandemic performance, our last article that included observations of this is October 2023. The CES and LAUS spreadsheet files on the Economic Indicators page will continue to include change from the last pre-pandemic month to the current month.

Opportunity Austin’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. The Central Texas Economy in Perspective page provides an archive of past articles on the labor market and many other topics.

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