How many people work in the Austin area now? The numbers are head-turning
By ABJ staff
Jul 18, 2022
Nonfarm employment in the Austin area grew by 6.7% — or about 77,400 jobs — between May 2021 and May 2022, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That puts Austin at No. 8 behind cities such as Las Vegas and Orlando on the latest list of the strongest U.S. job markets, The Austin area now boasts of having roughly 1.2 million jobs. An estimated 2.3 million people live in the metro.
So, is 77,400 jobs added in one year a lot for Austin? Indeed. In past years, roughly 30,000 jobs added — or 3% growth — in a year was considered healthy.
Economists said the solid job-growth numbers seen across the U.S. are a promising sign for the economy's ability to weather adverse conditions in coming months and could be a sign that a potential recession may look different than past downturns on the employment front.
"With over 6 million job seekers and 11 million job openings, each month we have witnessed hundreds of thousands of workers being added to the payrolls," said Jeffrey Korzenik, chief investment strategist for Fifth Third Bank. "Although some layoffs are coming, the historically unprecedented labor gap suggests payroll gains will continue to be positive, adding economic buoyancy despite the stress of Fed rate hikes."
Nationally, U.S. employers added 372,000 jobs between May and June, a gain that outpaced analyst expectations. Those gains came across several sectors, with health care (up 56,700), accommodation and food services (up 55,600), professional and technical services (up 42,000), information (up 25,000), transportation and warehousing (up 35,500), manufacturing (up 29,000) and retail trade (up 15,400) among industries posting notable gains.
Richard Moody, chief economist at Regions Financial Corp., said the industry-diverse nature of hiring activity should allay concerns about durability of the expansion, even if the pace of job growth has slowed relative to earlier points in the ongoing economic recovery from the pandemic.
Moody said the data suggests job growth is settling into a more sustainable pace.
“It still seems that, for many firms, finding enough people to hire is a far bigger problem than having too many people working,” Moody said.
In May, there were more than 11 million job openings, which is about 4.5 million more than before the pandemic.
“While the number of open jobs will likely fall in the months ahead as the economy continues to slow, we’re a long way from the labor market being balanced, and that labor-force participation remains below pre-pandemic norms makes labor-market balance much more difficult to achieve,” Moody said.
That echoes sentiments from hiring managers and recruiters, who say the pace of activity hasn’t slowed much despite recession fears, inflation concerns and worries about sagging sales activity.
The solid job-growth metrics stand in stark contrast to the upheaval of the stock market and jitters among accountants and executives about the outlook for the rest of 2022.
Economists recently told The Playbook the labor-market fundamentals suggest employees will maintain their significant leverage in the workplace for the foreseeable future — leverage they've used to lobby for increased remote-work flexibility, higher pay and new perks.
With elevated quit rates, 41% of employees planning to look for new jobs in the next six months and the nation's shifting demographics, it's going to take significant time before the numbers give employers the upper hand again.
“Workers still have some control because there aren’t enough bodies to go around,” Rucha Vankudre, a senior economist at Lightcast recently told The Playbook's Andy Medici. “It’s not clear anything is going to change in the labor market anytime soon.”