Austin’s jobless rate 4.9% – 4-year low
Holiday hiring helps push unemployment below 5% for first time since October 2008.
By Dan Zehr and Kirk Ladendorf
A surge in hiring by retailers gearing up for the holiday shopping season helped push the Central Texas unemployment rate down to 4.9 percent in November, its lowest point in more than four years.
The Texas Workforce Commission reported that Austin retailers added 4,200 jobs between October and November, compared with statewide growth in retail of 44,600 jobs.
The Central Texas job growth was primarily “people ramping up for the holiday, kind of a seasonal effect,” said Alan Miller, executive director of Workforce Solutions Capital Area.
Austin’s year-over-year job growth totaled 35,300, or 4.4 percent, which compared favorably with the statewide job growth of 2.6 percent.
“It is a robust picture for us and the region,” Miller said. “We continue to be a step ahead of the state and the national jobs levels. This bodes well for the first quarter of 2013.
“Overall it is not a bad place to be. Our population continues to grow and the economy continues to grow. Merry Christmas to everyone.”
Plenty of retailers were adding seasonal jobs, including Spec’s, the Houstonbased wine and spirits chain with 10 stores in the Austin area.
“Going into the fourth quarter this year, we were
Whole Foods team member Luke Vicic (left) checks out groceries Friday for Lauren Dimitry (right) at the chain’s downtown location in Austin. The Central Texas unemployment rate dropped to 4.9 percent in November. Retail jobs were a strong growth sector in the job figures.