On the bright side

Austin ranked best-performing city for jobs despite losses during pandemic

Austin ranked best-performing city for jobs despite pandemic losses

Garage bar Austin bartenders
One thing that hasn't change in the employment report: Austin's hospitality industry is suffering. Garage Cocktail Bar/Facebook

In a lemons-into-lemonade scenario, there’s some good news about Austin’s economy.

From August 2019 to August 2020, the metro area saw an employment loss of 2.7 percent, or 29,800 jobs, according to a report published September 22 by the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. Despite that massive dip, it still makes Austin the best-performing city for jobs among the country’s 50 largest metro areas.

At 2.7 percent, Austin’s year-over-year job loss was the lowest among the country's biggest cities, the report shows. The region added 19,800 jobs in August, narrowing pandemic-related job losses to 50,100. The August unemployment rate in the Austin area stood at 5.4 percent, compared with the U.S. rate of 8.4 percent.

Indianapolis (2); Dallas (3); Phoenix (4); and Jacksonville, Florida (5); round out the top five cities.

As mentioned, Dallas ranked third (job loss of 3.1 percent) among the 50 largest metro areas, while San Antonio landed in eighth place (job loss of 4.3 percent), according to the report. Fort Worth’s loss of 5.1 percent ranked 13th, and Houston’s decline of 5.8 percent ranked 18th.

Comparing the pre-pandemic month of February with August, four industries in the Austin area gained jobs while eight industries have lost jobs, the report says.

Among the gainers: financial services was up 12.1 percent, followed by manufacturing (up 4.1 percent), professional and business services (up 2.9 percent), and construction and natural resources (up 1.3 percent).

The worst losses were in leisure and hospitality (down 24.3 percent), information (down 12.8 percent), education and health services (down 9.4 percent), and government (down 6.2 percent).

Business experts expect the Texas economy to rebound fairly quickly from the pandemic.

“Once the health crisis is adequately managed, business activity can fully resume and the economic crisis will resolve. It will take a couple of years to get back on track and things will no doubt look a bit different, but we are projecting long-term job growth in metropolitan areas large and small, as well as rural communities,” Texas economist Ray Perryman said in August.

Perryman lays out these annual job growth projections through 2045 for the state’s major metro areas:

  • 1.79 percent in the Dallas area (more than 1.6 million new jobs).
  • 1.65 percent in the Austin area (more than 590,000 new jobs).
  • 1.49 percent in the Houston area (more than 1.5 million new jobs).
  • 1.49 percent in the San Antonio area (almost 534,000 new jobs).
  • 1.47 percent in the Fort Worth area (more than 501,000 new jobs).