(Reagan/Adobe)

The Austin-Round Rock metropolitan area saw its unemployment drop by nearly a full percentage point in May, when Texas began allowing businesses to reopen after weeks of closure due to coronavirus concerns, according to state and national numbers released Friday.


That number translates to nearly 40,000 more locals working in May than were employed the previous month, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.

The region's unemployment rate remained below both the new Texas (12.7%) and national (13%) unadjusted rates.

The numbers represent the first decrease in the overall local unemployment rate since it skyrocketed from 3.7% in March, when businesses in Austin and across the state shut down to avoid spread of COVID-19, to 12.4% in April.

The Austin-area unemployment rate was down to 11.2%, according to the TWC and the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

(Texas Workforce Commission) (Graph by Emma Freer/Flourish)

The unemployment rate was slightly higher when focused on Travis County, where the workforce was especially hard hit due to the high number of service and food prep industries, according to Workforce Solutions Capital Area, which offers job seeking and training services. That number was 11.6% and represented 81,466 residents who applied for jobless benefits that month.

The numbers are good news compared to the early days of the shutdown, but still high compared to previous recessions, the agency said.

About 49,000 people filed unemployment claims in the year between September 2008 and August 2009, known as the Great Recession—compared with 116,000 who sought benefits in the first three months of the pandemic

Key points by industry in the Austin-Round Rock MSA in May 2020, according to Workforce Solutions:

  • Leisure & Hospitality experienced the greatest increase with 15,100 jobs, followed by Other Services (4,700) and Financial Activities (2,500).
  • Other industries that experienced a jobs increase were Trade, Transportation, & Utilities (900), Professional & Business Services (800), and Mining, Logging & Construction (700).
  • Government experienced the greatest decrease with the loss of 6,300 jobs, followed by Information (-300).
  • Education & Health Services was the only industry to not gain or lose any jobs.
  • Financial Activities experienced the greatest regional annual job growth with an increase of 11.9%, followed by Mining, Logging & Construction (6.0%).
  • Industries that experienced a significant decrease in regional annual job growth include Leisure & Hospitality (-37.6%), Other Services (-18.6%), Education & Health Services (-13.4%), and Information (-12.4).

Some 123,900 people in Austin lost their jobs in April, according to TWC.

The Austin-Round Rock MSA includes Travis, Williamson, Hays, Caldwell and Bastrop counties.

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