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Austin Economic Indicators

Economic Indicators
December 6, 2018

The Austin economy expanded at a strong pace in October. The Austin Business-Cycle Index accelerated and continued above its long-term trend. Employment growth was robust, and employment in the health and education services sector continued to surge. Wages slightly decreased, and home prices climbed further.

Business-Cycle Index

The Austin Business-Cycle Index expanded at a 7.9 percent annualized rate in October, well above the long-run average of 6.0 percent (Chart 1). Jobs grew strongly in October, while the unemployment rate remained slightly under 3 percent.

Chart 1

Labor Market

Unemployment Rate Same as September

Austin’s unemployment rate remained at 2.8 percent in October, unchanged from September (Chart 2). This is well below its postrecession average of 4.8 percent and the unemployment rates for Texas and the U.S., which were both 3.7 percent. The metro’s labor force has expanded an annualized 3.4 percent year to date, moderately higher than the state’s 2.4 percent growth.

Chart 2

Job Growth Strong

Austin’s employment growth accelerated over the three months through October, increasing at a strong annualized rate of 7.7 percent (Chart 3). Growth was led by health and education services, which continued to expand and added approximately 6,000 jobs. Professional and business services and construction and mining also grew at a healthy pace, with the former adding 4,600 jobs and the latter roughly 1,600. Financial activities continued its decline since the start of the year and shed 1,300 jobs during the three-month period.

Chart 3

Wages Decline Slightly

The three-month centered moving average for Austin’s private sector hourly wage ticked down slightly to $29.47 in October but remained well above the U.S. and Texas averages (Chart 4).Year over year, Austin wages grew at a moderate 1.5 percent, which is lower than the 3.1 percent growth at the national level but higher than the state’s 0.8 percent growth.

Chart 4

Real Estate

Home Prices Increase

The median home price in Austin increased to a record high of $314,975 in October, up 4.3 percent year over year (Chart 5). The median home price for the state increased a healthy 2.2 percent over the same period to $235,341.

Chart 5

Home Sales Slow

Austin existing-home sales fell 0.3 percent in October (Chart 6). The metro’s aggregate home sales year to date increased 3.2 percent relative to the same period last year, slightly outpacing the state’s 2.5 percent rise.

Chart 6

NOTE: Data may not match previously published numbers due to revisions.

About Austin Economic Indicators

Questions can be addressed to Chris Slijk at christopher.slijk@dal.frb.org. Austin Economic Indicators is released on the first Thursday of every month.

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