Austin jobless rate nudges higher in November, but job creation surges


Job creation in the Austin metro area surged during November, helping absorb much of an unusually large influx of workers into the labor force, according to preliminary data released Friday by the Texas Workforce Commission.

The metro unemployment rate ticked up to 2.7 percent in November from 2.6 percent the prior month, apparently due to the big jump in people actively looking for work. The official labor force expanded 1.2 percent during the month, about four times faster than the average pace for November.

Some of those people streaming back into the workforce had not yet found jobs, as the unemployment rolls ballooned at a time when they typically contract. However, the number of employed Central Texans also increased, rising at more than double the average rate for November.

Companies soaked up the available labor – perhaps sensing a reprieve in what has otherwise been an exceptionally tight regional labor market. All told, local employers added about 10,100 jobs during the month, an increase of 1 percent and almost double the average rate for the month, according to commission data.

Area hotels and restaurants continued to add positions during the month and now have increased their payrolls about 6.1 percent since the same time last year. Retailers ramped up hiring for the holidays, as usual for November, but they didn’t grow at quite the same pace as is usual for the time of year.

Perhaps the most impressive gains came from manufacturing, which extended a strong year of hiring. Local factories added about 900 jobs during the month, an increase of 1.6 percent. Since 2000, factories have cut payrolls an average of 0.2 percent in November.

Not everyone added jobs during the month. Construction firms typically pare payrolls in November, but made an unusually large 1.7 percent reduction this time around. Health care providers, with the exception of hospitals, also cut jobs in November.



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