Unemployment

Joy Diaz, KUT News

Update: Oct. 25, 2012 at 9 a.m.:

After airing this story on Monday, listeners have been wondering what happened to the Yount family.  The first thing was that a listener drove by the parking lot where they were and gave them a cell phone.  Others have called asking for ways in which they can help.  KUT now has a way to get in touch with the Younts.  If you have any interest in helping them, you can contact KUT.

Original Story posted on KUT.org Oct. 23, 2012 at 5:30 a.m.:

The city of Miami claims to have taken almost half of its homeless population off the streets in the last 10 years. In Austin, where homeless services are stretched to the limit, the City Council is looking for new solutions. Last night, council members met with officials from Miami. The challenges of one local homeless family that is struggling on the streets show how complex the problem can be.

The news that the nation's jobless rate fell to 7.8 percent in September from 8.1 percent in August immediately led some of President Obama's critics to charge the the books had been cooked to help his reelection campaign.

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The national unemployment rate decreased to 7.8 percent in September. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. added 114,00 jobs last month. This means the number of unemployed in the U.S. is now 12.1 million. It's the first time this year that unemployment has fallen below 8 percent.

So what does this mean for Austin? As KUT News reported last month, Austin added 5,900 jobs in August, and local unemployment dropped to 5.9 percent, well below the national average.

But what about the already employed in Austin? According to staffing agency Robert Half International, technology professionals are expected to salary increases of about 5.3 percent. Administrative staff may see salaries rise by 3.5 percent. And accounting and finance salaries could jump 3.3 percent.

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The Austin area experienced the greatest jobs gain in Texas last month, as unemployment dropped half a percentage point.  

In August, the Austin area added 5,900 jobs, according to the Workforce Solutions Capital Area Workforce Board.  This brings the Austin unemployment rate down from 6.4 percent in July to 5.9 percent in August. This is third time this year that the unemployment rate has dropped below six percent. Prior to April 2012, Austin had not seen an unemployment rate below six percent since 2009.

Tiffany Daniels, of Workforce Solutions Capital Area explains where Austin saw its biggest gains:

In professional and business services, we saw gains of 2,300 hires in August.  That is one of our strongest segments [in Austin], and again, expect to see continued growth in those areas. Local government, retail trade and financial activities also saw significant increases of 1300 and 900, respectively.

Austin’s unemployment rate stayed steady last month while the state rate went up slightly.

Austin’s unemployment rate was at 6.4 percent in both June and July.

"All in all it's not a bad picture but we are at a bit of a loss to explain some of the job losses that occurred during July, especially at the same time where we saw an increase in the numbers of the civilian labor force – which, again, is attributable to population growth," says Capital Area Workforce Solutions Executive Director Alan Miller. "But some of the numbers just don't quite make sense. And they're going to require us to dig a little deeper and find out what was going on in July." 

Losing your job is rarely good. Not being able to find one for months can be disastrous for individuals, and bad for society as well. Yet during the recent recession and the current anemic recovery, more people in the U.S. have been unemployed for longer than at any time since 1948.

Of all Americans who were unemployed in June, almost half had been without a job for 27 weeks or longer. In other words, 5.4 million people have been jobless for more than half a year.

Texas State Library and Archives, flickr.com/tslac

Unemployment Benefits Changing for Some Texans

The Texas Workforce Commission announced on Tuesday that certain groups of unemployed Texans won’t be eligible for unemployment benefits after 60 weeks starting in July.

Previously, claimants could receive benefits for up to 73 weeks. Those already receiving benefits based on the older criteria will continue to be eligible. The commission estimates that about 22,453 individuals may be affected going forward.

The changes come due to Texas’ improving unemployment rate, resulting in revisions to the length of Emergency Unemployment Compensation offered to job searchers.

Austin’s unemployment rate went up last month.

It hit a three-year low in April of 5.5 percent, but grew last month to 5.8 percent.

According to the Workforce Solutions Capital Area Workforce Board, that increase is the largest the Austin area has seen since June 2011 (6.7 percent in May 2011 to 7.6 percent in June 2011). 

“Going up three tenths of a percent – it’s never positive to go up, we’d love to see the continued decreases that we’ve seen over the last few years – but we still created 2,000 jobs in the month of May. So while it may not be the number that we’re hoping for, it’s definitely positive and we continue to encourage employers to look at new job opportunities locally,” said Tiffany Daniels, Communication Coordinator for Workforce Solutions Capital Area Workforce Board.

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The April unemployment rate in the Austin metro is the lowest it’s been in three years. It dropped half a point—from 6 percent in March to 5.5 percent in April. Last year at this time, Austin unemployment was at 6.3 percent.

"The Austin metropolitan area's unemployment rate has decreased in eight of the last nine months," said Texas Workforce Commission spokesperson Mark Lavergne.

The Texas Workforce Commission says Austin saw growth in nine of 10 major industries in April. 6,300 jobs were added in the Austin area last month —many in construction and in the Professional and Business Services sector.

It's hard out there for a college grad.

The AP analyzed government data and came up with this stunning figure: "Half of young college graduates [are] either jobless or underemployed in positions that don't fully use their skills and knowledge."

The whole story is worth a read, so we encourage you to click over, but here is the meat of the AP's analysis:

Photo by KUT News

New figures show the unemployment rate in Texas dropped slightly from this time last year. Texas’ jobless rate was at 8.1  percent last month, compared to 8.3 percent in November 2010.  The Texas Workforce Commission released the numbers today.

The Austin metro area’s unemployment rate was 6.6 percent last month. It was 7.1 percent in November 2010. Austin lost 600 jobs last month, many in construction and professional and business services.

Clarification:  The Texas Workforce Commission says their data shows 11,100 more people were employed in Central Texas over the past year. 13,300 new jobs were created in the same period, according to TWC statistics

More people were employed in Austin last month compared to October 2010 but the unemployment rate rose because more people were looking for work. In the Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos area, 858,100 people had jobs in October 2011 compared to 847,000 in the same month last year.

But the jobless rate rose to 7.1 percent in the Austin metro area from 6.9 percent in October 2010 because more people were looking for work, according to the Texas Workforce Commission, which analyzes data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

However, labor economists caution against putting too much faith in city-level jobless figures because the sample sizes are small. They also suggest comparing year-over year rates instead of tracking month-to-month changes because of statistical fluctuations.

The Top 5 Stats From Today's Texas Jobs Report

Oct 21, 2011
Bureau of Labor Statistics

The latest job numbers were released by the Texas Workforce Commission today, and while there's no startling news to report, there are some interesting tidbits:

  1. Texas's employment advantage may be fading. The state's unemployment rate is up to 8.5 percent from 8.2 percent a year ago, while the national unemployment rate has fallen from 9.6 percent a year ago to 9.1 percent this month.
  2. Austin had the lowest unemployment rate among the five largest cities in Texas, at 7.4 percent (same as last month, but up from 7 percent a year ago). The highest? El Paso, at 10.6 percent (up a full point from a year ago).
  3. Much of the state's job creation has come in the private sector, which added 26,500 jobs. But...
  4. The public sector is taking a beating. It lost over 11,000 jobs in September, and has shed 33,700 jobs since September last year.
  5. The highest percentage of job gains in the state came in the "Professional and Business Services" category, which includes professions like accountants, lawyers, computer engineers and the like. They're up 5.3 percent in job gains since last September.

The full release from the commission can be found here, with notes by KUT News.

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Fear not, Austinites who shop at Lowes. You will still have somewhere to buy that $300 artificial Christmas tree this year without having to visit Home Depot, Target, Wal-Mart or some other large retail chain.

Lowes is closing 20 “underperforming stores” across 15 states and laying off 1,950 people. But none of the locations is in Texas, according to a news release from Lowes. The home improvement chain has 14 stores between Round Rock and New Braunfels.

The move to scale back operations comes after Home Depot, Lowe’s main competitor, reported a 16 percent jump in earnings while Lowes reported no growth, the AP reported.  Bloomberg News says the company will provide fired employees with pay and benefits for 60 to 90 days. 

Photo by KUT

Texas experienced a net job loss of 1,300 this month, causing the August unemployment rate to tick up to 8.5 percent from 8.4 percent in July.  A year ago, Texas’ unemployment rate was 8.2 percent.

Texas Workforce Commissioner Tom Pauken blamed a “stagnant national economy” for the job losses, but most of the cuts were in local government. About 11,500 positions were eliminated at municipalities and counties in August.  The state government added 1,700 jobs and the federal government increased its workforce in Texas by 400.

Meanwhile, Texas’ private sector added 8,100 jobs last month.

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Texas has received its first monthly unemployment report since Governor Rick Perry announced he was running for President on his record of job creation. The numbers from Texas Workforce Solutions show the state added 29,300 jobs last month.

But the state unemployment rate still ticked higher, from 8.2 percent in June to 8.4 percent in July. That’s because more people started looking for jobs in Texas.

The Texas unemployment rate is now edging closer to the national average of 9.1 percent.

Photo by Jessie Wang for KUT News

The Texas Workforce Commission puts the Central Texas jobless rate at 7.6 percent in June, up 0.8 percent over May.  Despite that, the Workforce Commission reports that 1,400 new private sector jobs were created in Austin last month. Lisa Givens, a commission spokesperson, says it's not uncommon to see both the unemployment rate and the number of newly-created jobs rise at the same time.

Photo by Liang Shi for KUT News

More people have jobs in Austin, but 6.7 percent of those actively looking for work are still unemployed. Lisa Givens from the Texas Workforce Commission says Austin added 3,900 jobs last month. Despite this, the unemployment rate rose slight slightly from 6.5 percent in April to 6.7 percent, a result of more people looking for work.

Photo courtesy flickr.com/emdot/

The financial services company Standard & Poor's (S&P) is showing some love for the Texas economy today by granting the state's government bonds an AA+ rating.

In a press release, S&P analyst Horacio Aldrete-Sanchez said it was because the Texas economy is large, diversifying, and growing faster than the country's as a whole.

Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

People bought more stuff in Austin this year than they did in the first three months of 2010, according to sales tax figures released today by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs.  The comptroller reports that Austin is receiving 4.35 percent more in sales tax revenue compared to January-March 2010. However, if you compare March 2010 with March 2011, the increase was a nominal 0.05 percent.

Image by Tommy Klumker http://www.flickr.com/photos/tomask/

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.

Image by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott sent a letter to staff this week, welcoming them back to work from the holidays and warning them they might be fired. With state lawmakers ready to begin a legislative session next week that will require closing a budget gap as big as $25 billion or more, is this an impending sign of the pain that will be wrought on Austin's economy?

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