Yesterday's Austin American-Statesman (Saturday, November 21) included two articles (in print but not online) on the subject of unemployment: [Central Texas] October jobless rate holds steady at 7.2% and Jobless rates increase in 29 states in October. Both included very good information but seemed incomplete to me. As I have written previously (Unemployment and Productivity), renewing job growth is critical to renewing real, sustainable strength in the housing sector. Another article that appeared in the print Statesman but not online (Experts see more pain for housing) noted that "... high unemployment is keeping many buyers out of the market ...." That is clearly the key economic necessity nationally, and the Austin area is undoubtedly affected by the larger economy, but ...
As always in simplified statistical discussions the fact that the unemployment percentage in Central Texas has been the same for the past three months obscures the fact that there actually has been job growth - slow, but positive. A graph included with the article about Central Texas showed a -0.4% rate of job growth, despite a positive slope in the jobs graph recently. What that chart really shows is a comparison of the rate of job growth in October 2009 compared to the rate in October 2008. Even that year-over-year comparison, however, shows monthly improvements in September and October.
TWC Unemployment 11/20/09 indicates that 41,700 non-agriculture jobs were created in Texas in October. The chart on page 2 of that press release shows that the Civilian Labor Force in Texas grew by 5,400, while 17,200 jobs were added - a net gain of 11,800 jobs. In the Austin Metro area the Civilian Labor Force grew by 3,400 people (almost 2/3 of the entire gain in the state), and our local economy added 3.600 jobs. Texas and Austin gained employable population last month and added even more jobs.
I recognize that newspaper editors must judge how best to utilize available pages and I will withhold critical comments about the judgments that were made for Saturday's paper. For myself and my blog followers, however, I believe that important information was left out. As I have emphasized many times over the past couple of years, there is much more reason for optimism in Austin than one might conclude from reading most print media. For more details, visit Austin-Round Rock MSA - Growing Economy.