What Does Texas Manufacturing Need To Bounce Back?

Sep 30, 2015

From Texas Standard: More than 28,000 jobs – that's what the manufacturing sector of Texas lost in the month of August, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas' manufacturing outlook report.

The nation's unemployment rate moved up a bit in the month of July, to 6.2 percent, as more Americans who'd been sitting on the sidelines started looking for work, according to the latest monthly report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 209,000 jobs, a bit less than economists had expected.

The global boom in energy production driven by fracking and horizontal drilling is leading to a shortage of skilled workers. A new report by the human resources firm Mercer says two-thirds of oil and gas companies are now poaching employees from their competitors.

"The industry seems inclined when an individual is trained and developed by a competitor to, especially in the first five years of employment, go after that key talent, as opposed to training and developing their own,"  says Philip Tenenbaum, a senior partner at Mercer. 

He says in some cases, the practice has become quite overt.

Update: Dropbox and Websense will receive economic incentives to expand in Austin.

The Austin City Council voted 5-2 today to offer the two tech companies approximately $700,000 in incentives. The money comes on top of $6 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund. 

Ben Philpott, KUT News

Gov. Rick Perry defended his efforts to bring jobs from other states to Texas on Thursday – and told critics that if they can't stand competition, they should get out of the game.

Perry will visit Maryland on Sept. 18. He has already spent nearly $500,000 on radio and TV ads touting Texas' low taxes and regulation in the state. Maryland is the sixth state Perry has visited this year, following California, New York, Connecticut, Missouri and Illinois.

A business in Austin is laying off hundreds of employees. OneWest Bank has notified the Texas Workforce Commission that intents to lay off more than 700 employees in Austin.

The California-based company is a mortgage services provider with offices in the Domain complex.

Texas added almost 19,000 jobs last month, the most of any state in the country - according to a report by the payroll and benefits company ADP.

More than 1,800 jobs will be added to June’s total.

Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News

More than 22 percent of Austin area jobs require specialized STEM skills. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

A study released by the Brookings Institution today shows Austin’s percentage of STEM jobs in 2011 was slightly higher than the national average of 20 percent.

Austin’s economy added 30,500 jobs over the last year. The latest employment report shows the jobless rate dropped to 5.1 percent last month from 5.6 percent in April 2012. 

The recent job growth happened as more people were moving to the Austin-area looking for work. The civilian labor force grew by more than 27,000 in the past 12 months.

(Most recent update: 10 a.m. ET.)

The nation's jobless rate edged down to 7.5 percent in April from 7.6 percent in March and employers added 165,000 jobs to their payrolls last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday morning.

Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Austin’s unemployment rate went down slightly from February to March – to 5.3 percent. The state rate was about one point higher (6.4 percent, seasonally adjudged; 6.3 percent, not seasonally adjusted).

Both numbers are well below the national rate for March: 7.6 percent.

Both the state and local rates are also well below what they were in March 2012 (7 percent and 6 percent, respectively).

The City of Austin is hosting its third annual Career Expo today at the Palmer Center.

The event will feature over one hundred employers and local agencies including  Austin Fire Department, Austin Independent School District, Dell, Time Warner Cable, Grande Communications and Whole Foods.

Last year more than 3,500 people attended the Career Expo that offers almost 2,000 job openings. 

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.

What's today's big jobs report say?

The U.S. economy lost 2.8 million jobs jobs in January.


Don't panic. The U.S. economy loses millions of jobs every January, in good times and bad, largely because tons of seasonal holiday jobs always wind down after Christmas.

So if you set aside the normal, seasonal stuff, how is the job market doing?

KUT News

Governor Perry announced his intention Tuesday to launch a Skilled Workforce Initiative in Texas to address demand for certified, highly-skilled workers in the manufacturing sector.

The initiative would reduce the time it takes for students to earn vocational certification in certain high-demand fields, such as manufacturing and industrial business. Under the initiative, certification programs will award credit to students who enter the program already possessing some experience and skills necessary for certification.  Backers hope the program will allow students to get certified and begin filling jobs more quickly, while also saving them time and money by allowing them to bypass lessons on subjects they’ve already mastered.

Tyler Pratt for KUT News

Update: Company spokesperson Tammy Taylor tells KUT News that “Hostess Brands had 230 employees in Texas. All facilities are shut down, with the exception of retail outlets, which will remain open for about a week to sell remaining product in going out of business sales.”

Taylor says that “severance will not be paid at this time” to the laid-off employees; “funds for these amounts are not in the ‘Wind Down’ budget that Hostess lenders approved.”

Original post (1:25 p.m.): It’s the end of Hostess Brands, the Texas-headquartered maker of Twinkies, Wonder Bread and Ding Dongs.  This morning Hostess said it filed a motion in bankruptcy court to request permission to liquidate its assets.

(Revised @ 12 p.m. ET)

The final monthly jobs report before Tuesday's general election contained something for both President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney to work into their closing arguments to voters.

For Obama, it was the news that the economy in October created significantly more jobs — 171,000 — than many economists had forecast. And the Labor Department revised upward the job numbers for September and August, suggesting even more underlying strength in the economy than earlier appeared to be the case.

Teresa Vieira for KUT News

Midsize companies — firms with annual revenues of $10 million to $1 billion dollars — are now adding jobs at almost double the national average.

Middle market companies account for just 0.5% of all Texas businesses. But they employ 30% of the state’s workforce. Anil Makhija teaches finance at Ohio State University. He says midsized businesses are more reliable job creators than small ones.

“If you think about small firms, they do deserve our attention, because they are frequently the centers of innovation. But they have a very high failure rate.”

Almost every day we hear about out-of-town tech companies opening branch offices in Austin.  

What does that mean? Could the next Facebook, Google, or Apple start and grow in Austin? Will Austin even be the next Silicon Valley? Or are we a "tech colony," a place where global companies can find a ready supply of highly-trained tech workers who will work for less than workers in California or New York?

Salaries are lower here, even for tech specialist in high demand, and although Austin is often billed as a "lower cost of living" area, it may not seem that way to those facing high (and rising) rent, home prices, and property taxes.

In Silicon Valley, researcher and writer Vivek Wadhwa studies competitiveness as an academic discipline.  He says he’s pessimistic about the tech future of many U.S. cities and regions, but not Austin. He says Austin has done everything right and should continue to grow. More than advantages like Texas' favorable tax climate, the stream of patents spinning out of UT, or ample investment capital, he says it’s the human capital that gives Austin an advantage.

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.