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Texas Economic Indicators

Economic Indicators

January 25, 2022

The Texas economy saw broad-based employment growth and a decline in unemployment in December. COVID-19 cases appear to have peaked in mid-January. Dining-out levels rose in most major metros last week but remained below 2019 levels. Oil prices continued to trend up, while the rig count edged down. Construction contract values slipped in December.

Labor market

Texas employment grows across sectors

Texas employment expanded an annualized 3.1 percent in December after growing an upwardly revised 7.9 percent in November (Chart 1). For 2021, job growth in the service sector was 5.3 percent, surpassing the goods-producing sector’s 3.9 percent increase. The service sector is now 0.8 percent above prepandemic levels in February 2020, and the goods-producing sector is inching closer at 5.5 percent below prepandemic levels. The state unemployment rate dipped to 5.0 percent in December.

Chart 1

Texas outperforms U.S. in 2021 job growth

Texas employment expanded 5.1 percent overall in 2021, outperforming the nation’s 4.5 percent increase and exceeding U.S. growth in the majority of industries (Chart 2). The exceptions were leisure and hospitality, oil and gas, and government. Oil and gas and leisure and hospitality were still top contributors to statewide job growth, up 10.3 percent and 8.9 percent, respectively. The larger professional and business services category rose 10.2 percent and led the sectors with a gain of 184,400 jobs.

Chart 2


The seven-day average of daily new COVID-19 cases in Texas skyrocketed in January (Chart 3). The recent surge in the omicron variant pushed the number of cases statewide to 69,000 as of Jan. 19. Subsequently, COVID-19 daily deaths rose to 102 and hospitalizations to a recent high of 11,546.

Chart 3

Dining out

As of Jan. 19, the number of seated-diner reservations at restaurants edged up in both the U.S. and Texas based on a seven-day moving average (Chart 4). Although activity increased, the state and national figures are still below 2019 levels by 5.6 percent and 24.6 percent, respectively. The Texas figure, which had been primarily above prepandemic levels since spring 2021, turned negative at the start of the new year as the omicron variant surged. Among major Texas metros, Austin and Dallas were hit the hardest, with dining out 12.2 percent below 2019 levels in Austin and 11.2 percent below in Dallas. Houston was 9.1 percent below 2019 levels. Seated-diner reservations eased in San Antonio but remained positive and were 5.2 percent above 2019 levels.

Chart 4


As of the week ending Jan. 21, the rig count dipped while oil prices increased (Chart 5). The number of rigs fell from 281 to 280 and remained well below prepandemic levels. Oil prices were $85.93 per barrel, an increase of $4.41 from the prior week.

Chart 5

Construction contract values

Construction contract values fell 3.6 percent in December, while the five-month moving average was relatively flat (Chart 6). A decline of 18.9 percent in nonbuilding contract values led to the month-over-month dip; nonbuilding contract values dropped 4.4 percent to $2.0 billion on a moving-average basis. The moving averages of nonresidential and residential building construction edged up 0.3 percent to $2.8 billion and 1.7 percent to $4.7 billion, respectively.

Chart 6

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

About Texas Economic Indicators

Questions can be addressed to Laila Assanie at and Mytiah Caldwell at Texas Economic Indicators is published every month during the week after state and metro employment data are released.