After a small statewide uptick in June, the unemployment rate reached a new pandemic low through July in Texas and the Austin metro area.
In March-April 2020, unemployment skyrocketed from 5.1% to 12.7% statewide and 3.8% to 11.8% metrowide. According to Texas Workforce Commission data updated Aug. 20, the unadjusted unemployment rate fell from 4.8% to 4.2% from June-July in the Austin metro area, which includes Travis, Williamson, Hays, Caldwell and Bastrop counties, meaning the number of unemployed persons fell from 61,239 to 54,605.
The unadjusted unemployment rate does not account for jobs gained or lost in just part of the year, such as summer or holiday jobs. The seasonally adjusted rate does include these jobs.
The supply of jobs is keeping pace with demand in Williamson and Hays counties; however, the workforce in these two counties is seeing a big need for particular skills, said Diane Tackett, chief operating officer for Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area. The organization, which serves Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, and Williamson counties, offers over 5,000 free training programs to earn certifications in many fields, Tackett said.
“We really try to meet that community need from the very entry level all the way to middle skills into more advanced careers,” Tackett said.
Typically those whose education experience falls between a high school diploma but prior to a four year degree work middle skill jobs, Tackett said. Workforce Solutions Rural Area training gives people a chance to work as a medical assistant, a welder, in construction and carpentry, and more.
The industries making up big portions of the Austin metropolitan workforce are professional and business services, trade, transportation and utilities and government, according to Texas labor market information. The smallest industries in the area are manufacturing, financial activities and information.
Despite the economic recovery happening throughout the Austin metropolitan area, Jessica Garay, the data and career awareness project coordinator for Workforce Solutions Capital Area, said a shortage of skilled labor workers existed even before the pandemic.
“The good news is that we have the resources to help people such as food service workers who were put out of work,” Garay said. “Some have come to our workforce hub for help to be retrained in one of our high demand industries like tech, health care, skill trades and manufacturing.”