Hiring surge, especially at schools, drops Austin unemployment rate


Austin-area workers streamed back into the labor force and, for most of them, directly into jobs during September, pushing the metro-area unemployment rate back down below 3 percent, according to preliminary data released Friday by the Texas Workforce Commission.

The number of employed Central Texans surged almost four times faster than the typical gains for September, according to commission data. Both the official labor force and the number of employed workers grew at their fastest rates since at least 2000.

The combination sent the jobless rate down to 2.9 percent, a drop from a revised 3.3 percent in August, the commission said.

The start of the school year accounted for most of the new, returning and freshly employed workers. State and local governments added 10,500 jobs during the month, an increase in line with the public sector’s average September growth since 2000, according to commission data.

That hiring offset the typical September payroll cuts by the private sector. Private firms shaved 2,200 jobs during the month, in line with seasonal trends for the month.

However, the area’s bars, restaurants and hotels made unusually large reductions, the data showed. The leisure and hospitality sector cut 3,200 jobs in September, a decline of 2.5 percent.

On average since 2000, the sector only reduced payrolls 0.2 percent in September. This was the first time the leisure and hospitality industries collectively cut jobs in a September since 2010.

As a whole, regional employers added 8,300 jobs during the month, an increase of 0.8 percent from August, during which they’d trimmed payrolls.



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