The Home Depot announced Feb. 12 it will hire 800 part-time and seasonal employees in Austin ahead of the spring, its busiest season.
The home improvement chain has two locations in Central Austin, as well as eight others in the surrounding areas.
Low- and middle-skill jobs are sorely needed in Austin as near historically low unemployment and high-skill job creation continue apace.
While high-skill employees are in high demand, most Austin job seekers are not qualified for them, and so the positions—such as those at the recently announced second Apple campus planned for North Austin—instead go to transplants, city leaders, labor experts and economists say.
“It’s a serious concern,” Austin economist Angelos Angelou told Community Impact Newspaper in April. “We are creating a lot of jobs, but those job candidates are coming from [outside of the Austin area].”
Officials blame the area’s rapid in-migration for increasing demand on the city’s real estate market and exacerbating pressures on its mobility system. As the area becomes less affordable, the pressure is acutely felt by the unemployed and those working low-wage, low-skill jobs, they say.
In turn, many local businesses, including North Austin restaurant The Frisco Shop and the Central Austin location of Conans Pizza, have cited staffing challenges as a reason they decided to close.
Many low-wage, low-skill employees either cannot afford to live in Austin, where the cost of living comfortably in 2017 was $73,163, according to a 2018 study by online personal finance resource GOBanking Rates.
This is more than the median household income in Austin in 2017—which was $62,614, according to the U.S. Census Bureau—and the annual income of a full-time worker earning minimum wage, which was $15,080.
Alternatively, they are able to choose from different jobs because of the high demand.
David Olson, communications and grant coordinator for Workforce Solutions of the Capital Area, told Community Impact Newspaper in January: “The struggle for employers in Austin right now is that a lot of job-seekers just aren’t interested in this kind of work,” which he said is often demanding and low-wage.