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.
“These are not censuses. They’re not counting every person or every job,” University of Texas economist Daniel Hamermesh warned. “They’re basing it on samples. And those are going to be necessarily, inherently error-ridden.”
Texas-wide, the numbers reflect a story similar to Austin’s. The state’s economy added 286,200 jobs over the last year, but the unemployment rate rose to 8 percent in October from 7.9 percent in October 2010 because the civilian labor force grew.
Interestingly, the government sector shed 54,600 jobs in Texas over the last year. Trade, transportation, and utilities was the biggest sector to gain with an additional 53,900 jobs added over the past 12 months.
Here’s how the labor market in Travis County has fluctuated over the past five years: