Texas Workforce Commission finds unemployment rates falling

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Records from the Texas Workforce Commission indicate that unemployment rates across Texas have recently fallen to their lowest percentages since 2008, while unemployment rates in Austin slightly increased between November and December 2012.

“We report on the unemployment rate each month,” said Mark Lavergne, a spokesman for the Texas Workforce Commission. The commission, a state agency created to develop and promote the workforce, found that the state’s average unemployment rate for the last quarter of 2012 dropped below 7 percent — attributed to the addition of 260,800 jobs across Texas during 2012. 

The Texas Workforce Commission also monitors local unemployment. According to the commission’s combined report for Austin, Round Rock and San Marcos, even though the region has had a small increase of 0.1 percentage points in unemployment between November and December 2012, the area has fared well. The region’s 5 percent unemployment rate is still lower than Texas’ 6 percent rate and the national average of 7.6 percent.

The unemployment rate in Austin may continue to rise for the current quarter. 

According to Lavergne, it is important to note that the unemployment percentages that the Texas Workforce Commission releases for local areas like Austin are affected by seasonal changes, such as holiday hiring and students taking summer and winter jobs. 

“It is not uncommon to see a slight uptick in the unemployment for a local area around this time of year,” Lavergne said. “As students head back to school and staffs decrease their sizes after the holiday season, the unemployment rate will naturally grow.” 

Despite the recent increase in local unemployment, he said Austin’s economy has been improving. 

“Over the last year the Austin area has added 34,600 jobs — a 4.3 percent annual growth rate,” Lavergne said.  

According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the accommodations and food service industries make up the largest number of job gains with 2,400 hires in 2012. However, jobs in government decreased with the loss of some 3,000 positions since the end of 2011.

So what does this mean for UT students graduating soon?

“I don’t think the general job market was too bad when I graduated,” said Ariel Min, a former UT journalism student who graduated in the spring of 2012. “But I think it was pretty difficult to find an entry-level job in journalism right off the bat in Austin.”

Min, who is now interning for a magazine in Dallas, said employment opportunities varied for students with different majors.

“A lot of my friends are in engineering or business, so I think it was a lot easier for them to find jobs,” Min said. 

Lavergne said Austin and Texas are great places to look for a job. 

“We can never predict the future 100 percent,” Lavergne said. “[But] from 2010 to 2020, our projections indicate that employment across all industries in Texas will grow by about 20 percent.”

Min said students should not be afraid to take advantage of unpaid opportunities and that the city’s job market looks promising.

“Don’t put yourself above unpaid internships,” Min said. “Utilize your faculty and resources well, and be aggressive in trying to get academic internships. Don’t give up. I still think Austin’s a great place to be right now.” 

Published on January 25, 2013 as "Unemployment rates fell in Texas in 2012".