3-minute read

In this letter: Takeaways from the latest Austin metro jobs report, and a “straight talk” discussion on the benefits of registered apprenticeship programs in Texas.

🚨 ICYMI: We spoke with KVUE and KXAN about our recent report showing unemployment rates for Black and Hispanic residents widened even further since March 2020 because of the pandemic.

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In partnership, Tamara.

1. Austin unemployment drops slightly to 3.5% in October

The new jobs report released Friday by TWC says the Austin-area unemployment rate dropped slightly in October as recovery continues.

  • The Austin metro unemployment rate fell from 3.5% in September to 3.4% in October, representing 44,568 jobless residents.
  • Texas’ unemployment rate (4.8%) also improved slightly, remaining above the national unemployment rate (4.3%).
  • The Capital Area/Travis Co unemployment rate fell from 3.5% in September to 3.3%, representing 25,989 jobless residents.
  • Note: The unemployment data released today is not seasonally adjusted.

Austin metro in October, by the numbers:

  • 18,300 jobs were added from September 2021 to October 2021.
    • Industries that experienced a significant increase in regional job growth include Professional & Business Services (5,800), Trade, Transportation & Utilities (4,000), Government (3,000), and Financial Activities (2,200).
    • The Austin metro’s annual growth rate of 7.0% represents the collective gain of 77,300 jobs since October 2020.
  • More jobs are available than a year ago:
    • 35,260 new job ads were posted in the Austin metro in October 2021, according to Burning Glass Labor Insight. That’s 10,194 more than in October 2020.
  • Job openings are wide-ranging:
    • Austin metro’s top hiring occupation groups in October were in Computer and Mathematical (5,752), Management (5,366), Sales & Related (3,357), Office & Admin (3,055), and Healthcare Practitioners & Technical (2,953).
    • Occupations with the most online ads were Software Developers (1,975), Computer Occupations, All Other (1,639), Registered Nurses (1,389), Managers, All Other (1,190), and Sales Reps (884). 
    • The top companies hiring were Built in Austin (858), Deloitte (754), University of Texas (675), Ascension Health (541), and Salesforce (504).
  • See more Octoberjob postings data on our website.

My takeaways: The pace of Austin’s job growth proves we live in one of the most resilient economies in the nation.

  • There is a demand for skilled labor. Those who benefit most from these job opportunities and financial gains are higher-skilled workers in our region’s top-performing sectors.
  • Yes, but: Workers with less education have felt the brunt of economic damage since the pandemic downturn.
    • A recent WFS report shows 69% of the more than 158,000 unemployment claimants in Travis County since March 2020 have less than an associate’s degree.
  • As the local workforce development board, our goal is that all Austinites succeed and prosper. Whether it’s helping a job seeker find work now or get more skills training, we’re with you every step of the way.

📅 Our next career readiness event is a Skilled Trades Fair with Crockett Early College High School on December 3. We’re connecting young students — who want to learn about the skilled trades and are ready to work — with hiring employers.

  • Of note: We held seven job fairs in October, attended by 263 employers and 427 job seekers.
  • See more upcoming events here.

Go deeper.

Jay Janner / American-Statesman

2. ‘Straight Talk’ Panel: Expanding apprenticeships to strengthen the local workforce

On Friday — at the tail end of National Apprenticeship Week — I was honored to join Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Commissioner Julian Alvarez III, IBM, and a fellow workforce development board executive for a “straight talk” panel discussion on registered apprenticeship programs (RAPs) in Texas at the 24th annual Texas Workforce Conference.

The big picture: A RAP is a proven model to strengthen middle skills that ultimately result in highly skilled individuals, critical for today’s talent pool.

  • These “earn-and-learn” pathways allow people to get a paycheck while training on the job and earning their recognized credential. For employers, apprenticeships address difficult-to-fill roles and are a strategy to attract and retain talent.

Why it matters: For residents with barriers to traditional education, certifications can unlock better pay and upward mobility.

  • $72,000: That’s the average starting salary for apprentices after completing a RAP.
  • Learning from the skilled trades pre-apprenticeship program with Local 286 Plumbers and Pipefitters Union, WFS is expanding RAPs into other high-demand sectors.

Zoom in: To help address an exacerbated skilled healthcare worker shortage in Central Texas, the Texas Workforce Commission has awarded $540,000 in ApprenticeshipTexas Expansion grants to WFS.

  • WFS is joining Austin Community College and Innovative Workforce Projects to expand RAPs for in-demand healthcare jobs such as medical assistant, patient care technician, and MRI and CT technologist.
    • The program goal is to train 270 apprentices.
  • Collaborating employers include St. David’s Healthcare, Baylor Scott & White Health, Austin Regional Clinic, and Austin Radiological Association.
  • Of note: We celebrated 100% completion and certification in the last apprenticeship cohort for Medical Assistant with Baylor Scott & White Health.

Go deeper: Austin has a reason to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week

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