The most recent employment data indicates that the pace of hiring in Texas has slowed. In September, 40,700 net new jobs were added, compared to 111,900 in August. Moreover, the unemployment rate rose and is now higher than the national level. While this slowing is not good news, it was not unexpected.
May and June jobs reports for Texas and the state's largest metropolitan areas were encouraging and reflect the fact that as businesses began to reopen, what was essentially a sound economy before the pandemic responded relatively quickly. Nonetheless, employment remains well below pre-COVID-19 levels. The Perryman Group's latest forecast calls for significant year-over-year losses for 2020, but notable recovery next year. If additional interruptions are required as a result of the recent surge in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in Texas, the annual declines will escalate.
The Perryman Group's most recent economic projections for Texas' largest metropolitan areas incorporate the potential effects of COVID-19 and the downturn in the energy sector. Like the US and Texas, these population centers will see significant losses this year, but a fairly rapid recovery once the worst virus issues have passed. The economic fallout will be significant for each, with the degree of decline and speed of recovery influenced by the differing concentrations of industries across population centers. The downturn, while sharp and painful, will likely be more of a pause than a fundamental change.
Austin-Round Rock was the fastest growing large metropolitan area in the United States over the past decade. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics recently looked at the percent change in employment for metropolitan areas with a 2010 population of at least one million, and Austin-Round Rock topped the list with 43.1% expansion. Between December 2009 and November 2019, all 51 of the largest US metropolitan areas saw employment increases, but the rates of growth varied dramatically from the rapid pace in Austin-Round Rock down to just 5.7% in Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Connecticut.