Texas at work

Booming Central Texas county clocks in as top spot for workforce talent

This booming Central Texas county is a top spot for workforce talent

Apple North Austin campus rendering
Apple's new $1 billion campus is sure to attract more talent to Williamson County.  Rendering courtesy of Apple

Williamson County reigns as a burgeoning corporate hub. It’s already home to heavyweight employers like Dell Technologies, and Apple's $1 billion North Austin campus is currently under development at a 133-acre site near McNeil Lane.

The county could attract even more employers and residents once they pore over this year’s Talent Attraction Scorecard from mapping software company Esri. The scorecard, released December 8, ranks Williamson County fourth among the country’s top large counties for the ability to recruit and develop workforce talent. 

Esri relied on six data points to come up with its rankings:

  • Net migration
  • Overall job growth 
  • Growth of skilled jobs
  • Level of education
  • Regional competitiveness
  • Annual job openings per capita

Among large counties, Williamson appears at No. 5 for net migration, No. 5 for level of education, No. 8 for growth of skilled jobs, No. 11 for overall job growth, and No. 31 for regional competitiveness. It ranks No. 403, however, for annual job openings per capita.

It's not the only Central Texas county to score well in Esri’s ranking. At No. 17 sits Travis County. Travis fares particularly well in these categories: regional competitiveness (No. 9), net migration (No. 15), and annual job openings per capita (No. 32).

Esri’s report also highlights Travis County’s big jump this year from its 2018 and 2019 rankings.

“Spending the last two years near the bottom of the rankings, Travis County … made a jump to the top 20. In addition to a high migration score, Travis also scored very high in regional competitiveness,” the report says. “Austin’s rise as a home for tech companies large and small, as well as corporate and regional headquarters, continues to feed its competitive advantage. The location of these firms means more talent, which means more talent for the next company that comes to town.”

The scorecard does point out the Achilles’ heel of Travis County: the increasingly higher cost of living in Austin.

“One reason for Travis’ low overall ranking the last few years is the out-migration to neighboring counties — the same phenomenon that is benefiting other Texas counties,” the report says. “With Austin’s rise in popularity, its median home price has risen too, making Travis County less affordable, thus homebuyers and renters have been pushed to peripheral markets.”

Elsewhere in Texas:

  • Collin County (Dallas area) ranks third among large counties.
  • Denton County (Dallas area) ranks sixth among large counties.
  • Montgomery County (Houston area) ranks ninth among large counties.
  • Fort Bend County (Houston area) ranks 11th among large counties.
  • Travis County (Austin area) ranks 17th among large counties.
  • Kendall County (San Antonio area) ranks ninth among small counties.

Overall, four Texas counties are in the top 10 among large counties. “While they rank well across the index, the common theme with all of them is they are suburbs of major metros, and are seeing a migration from those metros,” the report says.