AUSTIN – The Austin-area unemployment rate dipped in December 2020, according to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), despite a surge in coronavirus cases, dropping unemployment to its lowest point since the pandemic first struck the region. However, local unemployment is still two times pre-pandemic levels.
TWC today reports the Austin-Round Rock MSA* unemployment rate decreased from 5.9% in November 2020 to 5.1% in December 2020, or 65,047 unemployed residents.
- The region’s unemployment rate remained below Texas (7.1%)** and national (6.5%)** rates.
- According to TWC, the Austin-Round Rock region added 5,600 jobs from November to December 2020. The region has experienced an annual growth rate of -1%, representing the collective loss of 11,500 jobs since December 2019.
- Further, TWC reports unemployment in the Capital Area/Travis County*** region decreased from 5.9% in November 2020 to 5.1% in December 2020, or 39,116 unemployed residents.
- TWC reports 5,148 new unemployment claims in December, up slightly from the 4,853 in November.
About 23 percent of the Austin metro’s unemployed residents were previously in face-to-face food-service, retail, and personal care jobs, according to Burning Glass Labor Insight.
“These are scary times, but there is hope on the horizon. We hope Austin and Travis County residents understand our local job market has changed enormously,” said Tamara Atkinson, Chief Executive Officer at Workforce Solutions Capital Area. “But job opportunities in healthcare, manufacturing, skilled trades, and IT exist all over our region for those who have the required skills to obtain them.
“If you want or need to make a career change in line with these new realities, Workforce Solutions is here to help you with no-cost career assessments, advice, creating a new action plan, or connecting with training providers and support services. Just call us.”
December Job Growth/Losses by Industry in the Austin-Round Rock MSA:
- Monthly Increases: Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (3,800), followed by Professional & Business Services (3,000), Manufacturing (1,600), Mining, Logging and Construction (1,600), and Education and Health Services (1,100).
- Monthly Decreases: Government experienced a decrease with 5,000 jobs lost. Leisure and Hospitality lost 1,800 jobs.
- Annual Increases: Financial Activities experienced the greatest regional job growth over the last 12 months with an increase of 17.1%, followed by Manufacturing (8.3%) and Professional & Business Services (5.2%), Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (1.5%), and Mining, Logging and Construction (1.2%).
- Annual Decreases: Industries that experienced a significant decrease in regional job growth over the last 12 months include Leisure & Hospitality (-19.9%), Information (-10.7%), Education & Health Services (-4.1%), and Government (-3.1%).
- Of note: 20,173 new job ads were posted in Austin MSA in December 2020, which is 4,443 fewer than the same period a year prior.
- The region’s top hiring occupation groups were in IT (2,297), management (2,476), healthcare practitioners and technical (2,224), sales and related (2,161), and office and administrative support (1,883).
- Top occupations in the most in-demand sectors, targeted in Austin’s Community Workforce Plan, were registered nurses (737), software developers (543), heavy and tractor trailer drivers (209), general maintenance and repair workers (179), and management analysts (137).
Workforce Solutions is helping Austin return to work quickly
Workforce Solutions Capital Area recently launched RE:WorkNOW (reworknow.org/austin), a rapid training program for City of Austin and Travis County residents.With financial backing from the City of Austin and Travis County, Phase 1 of this effort will provide 260 scholarships to jobless residents for no-cost, rapid, and safe job training.
Eligible enrollees in training courses may receive $200 weekly stipends, career advising, and placement. Childcare, transportation, and digital inclusion will also be provided as needed and as funds are available. Program graduates are connected to jobs in growing industries like IT, healthcare, skilled trades and advanced manufacturing.
Courses can take as little as four weeks, are aligned with industry expectations, and will result in high-demand jobs at better wages.
“Workforce Solutions Capital Area connects local people to local jobs. This includes jobs that are in-demand with high earning potential,” said Melanie Flowers, Chair of the Board of Directors for Workforce Solutions Capital Area. “We also help residents upgrade their skill sets to make them eligible for higher-skilled, higher-paying roles.
“This opens up their previous jobs to other workers like 2020’s high school graduates, thus contributing to the health of our region’s employment ecosystem.”
As of January 15, 116 residents have enrolled in RE:WorkNOW and 18 graduated. Of these 18 graduates, 13 — who were all previously unemployed — have found employment in in-demand industries through Workforce Solutions’ placement supports.
The average new wage for RE:WorkNOW graduates that have found employment is $14.59 hourly or $30,34 annually. The highest wage earner is an electrical training completer (and a class of 2020 high school graduate) hired at Beckett Electrical with an annual wage of $36,400. Read more about his journey through RE:WorkNOW here.
Space is limited, and enrollment into approved courses is handled first-come, first served. To learn more and apply, visit reworknow.org/austin.
Workforce Solutions Capital Area’s three career centers across Austin are available by phone, email, or in-person by appointment only to serve residents and businesses impacted by economic changes caused by COVID-19.
Residents seeking assistance can contact us at 512.549.4967 or visit wfscapitalarea.com to learn about our many services and resources for job seekers, employers, parents and students.
Workforce Solutions Capital Area Workforce Board is the publicly-funded workforce board for Travis County. Through strong partnerships and strategic collaborations, Workforce Solutions is leading the region’s workforce system in the development of a world-class workforce.
*The Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties.
**Unemployment rates listed are not seasonally adjusted.
***The Capital Area Workforce Development Area includes Travis County.