No matter how you slice it, Austin reigns as the state’s biggest comeback story when it comes to recovering jobs lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.
New data from the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce shows the Austin metro area has regained 96 percent of the jobs shed due to the pandemic, comparing the pre-pandemic month of February 2020 with this June. In terms of job recovery, this puts Austin in first place among Texas’ biggest metro areas and third among the country’s 50 biggest metro areas (behind No. 1 Salt Lake City and No. 2 Kansas City).
The chamber’s data indicates Austin’s job count in June remained 0.5 percent behind where it stood in February 2020, compared with:
- 0.8 percent in the Dallas area, ranking it fourth among the top 50 metros.
- 1 percent in the San Antonio area, putting it in the No. 5 slot.
- 2.8 percent in the Fort Worth area, giving it a No. 18 ranking.
- 4.6 percent in the Houston area, pushing it to No. 31.
As for the increase in the number of jobs from last June to this June, Austin also leads the state’s major metros. With a year-over-year jump of 7.3 percent, Austin claims the No. 11 spot among the top 50 metros, according to the Austin Chamber of Commerce. (Las Vegas leads the way, at 12.8 percent). Dallas (6.5 percent) ranks 16th, with San Antonio (6.3 percent) at No. 18, Fort Worth (4 percent) at No. 46, and Houston (3.4 percent) at No. 49.
The Austin region also ranks first in Texas for the lowest unemployment rate in June — 4.4 percent. Dallas is next in Texas (5.4 percent), followed by San Antonio (5.5 percent), Fort Worth (5.6 percent), and Houston (6.9 percent), according to an Austin Chamber of Commerce report released July 20.
The pandemic-era migration of tech workers into the Austin area from other places has occurred in tandem with the region’s job recovery. According to user data from LinkedIn, Austin posted the largest net inflow of tech workers from any major U.S. city between May 2020 and April 2021, attracting 217 professionals for every 10,000 LinkedIn users.
“I didn’t think it could have grown any faster. And then somehow it did,” Joshua Baer, CEO of Austin startup incubator Capital Factory, tells the San Francisco Chronicle. “COVID-19 broke a dam that was holding back thousands of even more people who were thinking about moving but [were] held back by their job or other obligations.”
“There were some big winners and some big losers in the COVID migration,” Baer adds, “and Austin was the biggest winner.”