Why Austin’s near-record low unemployment rate could mean more people will move here

Downtown Austin skyline file photo

AUSTIN (KXAN) — At 2.2%, the Austin area’s unemployment rate is very close to breaking the record low set in 1999.

In May, the Austin-Round Rock metro’s jobless rate dropped to 2.2% from 2.3% in April, according to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). The statewide jobless rate was 3.5%, the lowest it’s ever been.

“I am especially proud to be a Texan. Our historically low unemployment rate is excellent news for Texas workers,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. “As more Texans find stable employment they are able to invest in their communities and future generations of Texas workers.”

According to Workforce Solutions Capital Area, “the Austin-Round Rock [area] collectively added 7,700 jobs in May 2019. The region’s 2.4% annual growth rate represented the collective addition of 25,400 jobs since May 2018.”

“The Austin region is entering our fifth year in full employment,” said Drew Scheberle, a senior vice president at the Austin Chamber of Commerce, in a statement sent to our media partner, the Austin Business Journal. “Employers tell us they are still hiring great people at one of the fastest rates in the country. Austin area residents — new and old — have 50,000 open job opportunities to choose from.” 

Workforce Solutions said, however, the 2.2% unemployment rate represents just 26,966 residents looking for jobs.

That’s only about half of the regions’ job openings.

Workforce Solutions told KXAN that’s why companies compete for talent, and they end up hiring high-skilled people from other cities, states or countries.

They said they see job seekers with more experience and higher skill come to Central Texas because they’re ready for the higher level job.

Local job seekers may have some advantage, though, because the companies don’t have to factor in relocation costs. Still, many people expect companies to continue to hire from elsewhere as employers continue to add new jobs to the market.

For younger job seekers, especially those who went to college in Central Texas and want to stay here after graduation, Workforce Solutions said internship experience is key because they will be competing against higher skilled workers coming from out-of-town.

Many University of Texas at Austin students said they are already thinking about what’s next.

Bell Kolev said she chose to have a double major and participate in the UTeach program because “there’s job fairs they put you into in your senior year, and they find you a school to work with. They give you plenty of opportunities to interview.”

She said most of her friends have “internships lined up that they know they can interview with after college, or they have jobs already lined up with good companies.”

Julian Falco, who’s also a student at UT, said he’s planning on going to a medical school. After that, he’s willing to relocate to wherever he can find a job.

But overall, he said many students are “optimistic about job prospects, and so am I.” You can read more about Austin’s unemployment rate on the Austin Business Journal website.

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