Economics, employment, jobs, real estate, taxes, economic development and incentives, workforce development, IPOs, investment and anything related to business in Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson

KUT News

The Austin metro area’s unemployment rate is down almost one percentage point from a year ago, according to numbers released Friday. The jobless rate in the Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos area was 5.4 percent in February. That compares with 6.2 percent from a year ago.

The industry sector with the largest percentage gain was construction. For real estate analyst Mark Sprague with Independence Title, it comes as no surprise.

S&P 500 Closes at All Time High

Mar 28, 2013

The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index broke new ground today, closing at 1,569, an all-time high that erased the record set on Oct. 9, 2007.

The S&P joins the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which broke its 2007 record earlier this month.

Both indices have now recovered all the losses they suffered during the Great Recession.

The U.S. economy grew at a 0.4 percent annual rate in fourth-quarter 2012, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Thursday morning.

New Offers For Dell

Mar 25, 2013

Michael Dell may need to increase a $24.4 billion offer to buy out one of the largest employers in Central Texas. That’s after two new acquisition offers emerged today for Round Rock-based Dell.

Dell Deadline Nears

Mar 22, 2013

Round Rock-based Dell is facing a key deadline tonight in efforts to take the company private. A so-called “go shop” time period ends at midnight, when a Dell special committee will stop actively seeking alternative bids to the current $24.4 billion buyout offer.

But St. John’s University business law professor Anthony Sabino says the buyout is not a done deal at midnight.

KUT News

Update: The Austin City Council decided to delay their vote Thursday night, citing concerns that they did not have enough information.

City staff will return next week with a sampling of how many properties repealing the Project Duration Ordinance would affect. Mayor Lee Leffingwell was the only council member against the delay last night.

Original Story (March 20, 7:22 p.m.): Permits for building projects may lose their expiration dates, depending on a vote at Thursday’s City Council Meeting.

@Cevola Flickr/

Fredericksburg peach trees are just starting to bloom, and growers in the Hill Country are cautiously optimistic about this year’s crop.

The cool weather early in the year that can lead to especially sweet peaches also can ruin them if there’s a cold snap too late in the season.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Fewer Texans are earning minimum wage or less. The number dropped by 21,000 last year to 452,000 people in Texas earning no more than $7.25 an hour. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics analyst Cheryl Abbot says the decline reflects the fact that the minimum wage hasn’t gone up since 2009.

“Every time it did bump, we saw a larger share of workers receiving the minimum wage or less,” Abbot said. “Now that those increases have fallen off a bit, we’re seeing that share start to decline.”


Following a week of tense negotiations, a divided beer industry reached a compromise Monday on legislation to amend the state's alcoholic beverage code, beating a deadline set by state Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, the Senate Business and Commerce Committee chairman. But the parties aren't disclosing any details until the official language is hammered out this week. 

“When I started working on this four years ago, no one would listen to me,” Scott Metzger, the legislative chairman of the Craft Brewers Guild, which is pushing to loosen restrictions on small brewpubs in the state. “Today, we have a deal.”


Dell has agreed to open its books to billionaire investor Carl Icahn. The company’s founder, Michael Dell, is leading a group of investors who want to buy out the company and take it private for $24.4 billion. Several major investors have said that undervalues the Round Rock-based company.

Now, Icahn says he has signed a confidentiality agreement that allows him to dive deeply into Dell’s financial information. Anthony Michael Sabino is a business professor at St. John's University.


The head of SpaceX, Elon Musk, says his commercial spacecraft company has had success in Texas with its rocket-testing facility in MacGregor and he likes the idea of building a Spaceport outside Brownsville.

Musk was in Austin Friday to talk with the Texas House Appropriations Committee.

There were 236,000 jobs added to payrolls in February — many more than expected — and the jobless rate unexpectedly dropped by two-tenths of a point, to 7.7 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

Tesla Motors

The electric car maker Tesla is setting up a "gallery" at the Domain shopping center this weekend. It’ll have its new electric cars on display. And while they can’t sell them in Texas without a dealership, the company can show the vehicles and take orders on the Internet.

There were 198,000 jobs added to private employers' payrolls in February, according to the latest ADP National Employment Report — a privately produced snapshot of the employment picture that's sometimes a signal of what the Bureau of Labor Statistics will say when it releases its data from the same month.

Update at 4:09 p.m. ET. A New Record:

The Dow Industrials finished in record territory today. Gaining 89 points, it closed at 14,253.77, its highest level since Oct. 9,2007.

That is, the Dow has recovered all the losses it suffered during the Great Recession.

After 31 years in operation, east end Tex-Mex restaurant Nuevo Leon has closed. 

Owner Rachel Davila left a note on the door this weekend announcing the closure and thanking customers for their years of business. We called Davila and asked her about why she started the restaurant, the changes she’s seen in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood, and what she plans for the future.

KUT News: Why are you closing your restaurant?

Rachel Davila: I am retiring and the only way I can retire is to close it and sell it.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Update (Jan. 21. 2013): Outbox has announced it is ceasing operations. Read more here.

An Austin company is expanding its concept of undoing the work of the United States Postal Service. 

Outbox picks up its customers’ mail, scans it, and makes it available online. The company announced today that it will start serving San Francisco and parts of Silicon Valley, after testing its service in Austin since 2011.

Outbox workers open and scan letters, catalogs and flyers. Customers log in to Outbox’s website to see their – now-digital – mail. You never have to go to your mailbox. The cost? About 5 bucks a month.

Shares of Dell stock closed today at $13.92.

That’s 27 cents per share higher than the price Michael Dell and his co-investors have offered, in their efforts to purchase the computer and IT services company. Why would anyone pay more for the stock than Dell has offered?


As many as half of Texas construction workers could be undocumented immigrants, according to a study released today.

In the study, the Workers Defense Project examined building permits in five big markets across the state, including Austin. They visited random residential and commercial building projects to survey 1,200 construction workers during lunch breaks or after their shifts.

The New York Times points out something rather interesting about an otherwise mundane business story. Wal-Mart's fourth-quarter earnings report tells the tale of how changes in the tax code has both helped corporations and hurt them.

As the Times puts it, during the fourth quarter of last year, "the tax code gave and the tax code took away."

The paper explains: