Despite headwinds, Austin job growth picked up in 2015

January 22, 2016
Austin American-Statesman

Central Texas growing larger and larger. A sharp downturn in the energy sector. The weak global economy and strong U.S. dollar whipsawing exporters. A labor market recovery helping other cities regain their competitive edge.

There are plenty of reasons to think Austin’s growth engine will cool to a more moderate pace, and yet it just keeps cruising along.

In fact, it re-accelerated in 2015. Local employers added 34,900 jobs last year, a growth rate of 3.8 percent, according to preliminary data released Friday by the Texas Workforce Commission.

That fell short of the metro area’s sizzling, 4-percent-plus payroll growth in 2012 and 2013, but it easily outpaced its 3.1 percent job growth in 2014.

“We have seen nothing but an increase in demand, and it’s across all industries,” said Melinda Alison, regional vice president at Robert Half, a global staffing firm.

Between the strong demand for high-skill workers and the lower-skill job creation needed to support a booming population, the Central Texas labor market has created both a healthy churn among its local workers and an alluring draw for out-of-town workers.

“We definitely have local folks who know the job market is really strong in Austin, and if there’s a better opportunity they’re moving to it,” Alison said. “But we also on a daily basis see people from out of town relocating here.”

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