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Local Workforce Grew By 16,600 in 2010 As People Flocked To Austin

Image by Tommy Klumker

We received more hard data today showing how more people are moving to Austin and looking for work.  The latest unemployment survey from the Texas Workforce Commission shows the workforce in the Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos area increased from 892,700 in December 2009 to 909,300 last month, a difference of 16,600.

It's not surprising why. While 16,600 people moved to the city, the number of people employed in the Austin area increased by 17,400.  That sent our jobless rate from 7 percent in December 2009 to 6.8 percent in December 2010.  Compare that to a Texas unemployment rate of 8.3 percent and a national jobless rate of 9.4 percent.

"The latest job report is further evidence of something we have been expecting," City of Austin demographer Ryan Robinson told KUT News. "That is the incoming migration of what we call economic migrants."

"They're people coming into Texas and the greater Austin area from economically devastated parts of the country, places like California, Arizona, Florida, the upper Midwest," he said.  "They move to Texas, not because they have a job, but because their job prospects in Texas are far greater than they were where they are moving from."

Robinson said the population growth is good news for the city, especially over the long term.

"It's a positive sign because it's incoming energy. It's incoming social capital. It's incoming labor," Robinson said. "It's another log on the fire of the fact that Austin is a very attractive place to live, and we're attracting a wide variety of households."

Many of those who have moved to Austin in recent years are young people. According to an analysis earlier this month by the Brookings Institution, Austin drew more people aged 25 to 34 than any other city in the years 2007 to 2009.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.