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Good afternoon Austin friends,

TWC estimates the Austin-area unemployment rate rose to 5.6% in February 2021 (more below). This is more than double the unemployment rate of February 2020, with many more people not counted as unemployed because they stopped looking for work.

  • However, our region is one of the highest-performing metros for narrowing job losses.
    • Employers posted over 20,000 new job ads in February. And as TWC also reported that more people have rejoined the workforce, now is the time to get trained.
  • A skilled workforce contributes to a safe, equitable, prosperous community.
    • We know where the jobs are and the skills needed for those jobs. We are ready to train the workforce. Further investment in high-demand training programs like RE:WorkNOW will yield benefits for future generations.

What’s happening in the U.S. and our Austin metro job market:

  • The Senate on Monday confirmed Marty Walsh as Labor secretary. Mr.Walsh steps into the job at one of the most critical points in history for American labor, with millions of people still out of work across the country. Mr. Walsh was confirmed with bipartisan support on a 68-29 vote.
  • Austin-area companies are still hiring and posting new open positions, although fewer new postings than a year ago. (more below)
  • ‘Hottest market in the country’: Austin has become the No. 1 destination in the U.S. for potential commercial real estate investment, according to the CBRE Group, a national real estate services and investment firm. Austin also joins the National Association of Realtors list, which wasn’t individually ranked, as a top 10 destination for commercial real estate.
  • Through the RE:WorkNOW rapid training model, WFS and partners offer safe, convenient courses so that our neighbors can earn the skills needed to enter Austin’s most in-demand industries (including skilled trades, manufacturing, healthcare, and tech), with supports available like child care and digital inclusion. (more below)
  • More Austin relocations: Following in Oracle and others’ footsteps, another tech company is heading from the West Coast to Austin. CrowdStreet, which operates an online marketplace for investing in commercial real estate, announced that it’s shifting its headquarters from Portland, Oregon, to Austin.

🙏 Also, I’m honored to have been appointed as a board member for the newly-formed Austin Economic Development Corporation! Thank you to Austin City Council for their confidence in me and Workforce Solutions Capital Area to help with the city’s focus areas, such as affordability and workforce development. I look forward to the collaborative work to come.

In partnership, Tamara.


Austin unemployment rate rises to 5.6% in February 2021, as job postings continue to lag behind pre-pandemic levels

Bad news: According to updated employment estimates released by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) today, the unemployment rate for Texas (7.5%) worsened, remaining below the national unemployment rate (6.6%).

  • February unemployment in the Capital Area/Travis Co rose from 5.4% in January to 5.6%, representing 41,960 jobless residents.
  • The overall February Austin-Round Rock MSA rate is at 5.6%, or 70,448 jobless residents.
  • Of note: Self-employed, independent, gig, and contract workers typically ineligible for regular state unemployment (e.g., PUA claimants) are not counted in these monthly tallies.

Austin/Travis County by the numbers:
Non-traditional claimants typically ineligible for unemployment benefits are represented in the below data.

  • New unemployment claims decreased from January, with 6,481 (-877)approved claims in February 2021.
  • Small businesses continue to struggle:
    • As of March 16, 2021, the number of small businesses open decreased by 36.3% compared to pre-COVID January 2020, according to Opportunity Insight.
  • Jobs are still being posted, but fewer are available than a year ago:
    • 20,623 new job ads were posted in Austin MSA for February 2021 (-4,828 compared to the same period in 2020).
  • Job openings are wide-ranging:
    • The region’s top hiring occupation groups in February were in IT (3,307), management (2,906), retail sales (2,171) admin & support (1,765), and healthcare practitioners & technical (1,645).
    • Top titles posted in job ads were sales representative (51), sales associate (50), customer service rep (48), housekeeper (43), and admin assistant (42). 
    • Top companies hiring were IBM (342), Baylor Scott & White (244), Dell  (232), Hospital Corporation of America (224), and Ascension Health (208).
  • 2 job fairs held by WFS in February, attended by 987 job seekers and 31 employers.

What they’re saying:

  • Melanie Flowers, WFS board chair and head of technical training at Samsung Austin Semiconductor: “Thousands of our friends and family are seeking to create stability in their lives by securing productive employment.
    • “As residents continue to struggle with pandemic-related unemployment, we continue to engage them to offer support with job searching, training, securing employment, providing safe care for children, and much more.”

Worth your time: I spoke with Austin Monitor earlier this week on how the post-storm plumber shortage produced demand for a variety of our rapid skilled trades training programs.

Go deeper.


In Focus: Talent supply projections for Austin’s Healthcare industry signal high demand for skilled workers

Over 900 students and job seekers registered for our Workforce Wednesday webinar last month to hear about in-demand jobs and training opportunities for Austin’s healthcare industry.

Big thanks to Mark Sherry, WFS board vice-chair and regional HR director at Baylor Scott & White Heath, for joining and sharing his company’s current job openings and how to connect to employment with BSWH.

Austin’s Healthcare industry, by the numbers:

  • 36,000+ job openings with a $56,000 average annual salary were posted in the 12 months ending March 2020.
  • There were 4.5x more open job postings in healthcare than jobless residents previously in this industry as of January 2020.
  • Over the next decade, the industry’s top ten most in-demand occupations are projected to be short over 4,000 workers, led by RNs with a projection of 1,195 needed. 
    • In other words, these jobs are projected to grow quickly, but since there are not enough residents earning certifications to meet the hiring demand, there is a shortage of talent.
    • WFS-funded trainings, like those offered through RE:WorkNOW, provide pathways for residents to enter more experienced healthcare fields.
  • Job openings are wide-ranging:
    • The region’s top hiring occupation groups in the 30 days ending March 1 were RNs (513), personal care aides (158), LVNs (140), nursing assistants (125), and medical & health services managers (111).

❗  The bottom line: While certain Austin industries such as healthcare are projected for more growth, skills are at a premium. This is why WFS, Travis County, the City of Austin, and ACC put together a plan to further Austin’s economic recovery.

  • RE:WorkNOW is an opportunity to connect unemployed workers to rapid, hybrid training to earn credentials in high-demand fields.
  • Eligible enrollees may also receive a $200 per week stipend, with more supports available to remove every barrier so our neighbors can get back to work quickly.
  • Participating training providers offering courses in the healthcare space include ACC, Skillpoint Alliance, Central Texas Allied Health Institute, and edOpp Solutions.

What’s next: Our Workforce Wednesday webinars are held on the second Wednesday of every month, with each focused on a different key Austin industry.

  • Register for April’s event focused on IT/tech.

Go deeper.

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