After trending around 7.0 percent annually from 2009-2011, the Austin unemployment rate fell to 5.9 percent as of June. Austin’s June unemployment rate is 2.4 percentage points below the July national rate of 8.3 percent. The region’s thriving tech sector is driving the local economy, attracting companies and jobs from overseas as well as from the original tech hotbed of Silicon Valley. Austin was recently named one of five international Silicon enclaves by Upstart Business Journal. Apple, Incorporated purchased land for a two-building headquarters in Northwest Austin in July, with construction slated to begin in the third quarter. Already one of Austin’s largest employers, the company plans to more than double its workforce, adding 3,600 employees over the next several years. Austin’s strong population growth, in the range of three percent annually, is spurring construction activity in public works projects, such as the $40 million expansion of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Although Austin’s high proportion of government jobs leaves it vulnerable to job losses stemming from federal budget cuts and state and local government tightening, government jobs have held up well thus far in 2012.
After a dip in income growth in Q1 2012, Austin incomes rebounded in the second quarter, to a 4.5 percent annualized rate. As the Austin job market continues to expand, the metro area should see full-year 2012 income growth bordering five percent, about one percent higher than the national forecast.
Multifamily construction spiked in Q1, more than doubling the annualized rate of housing units in 2011Q4. Single-family construction is up 29 percent year-over-year through 2012Q2. Although these numbers tend to be volatile, Austin housing starts and home prices are poised to pick up steam through 2012 and into 2013.
Click here for the complete 2012Q3 Austin Regional Economic Update: Austin2012Q3.