Austin is Making Swift Moves Toward Recovery

September 30, 2020
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Author: Jonathan Blair

The Lone Star State is positioned to be a leader in job-market expansion in the post-COVID-19 era, and Austin is leading the pack. The Austin-Round Rock, Texas area made news this summer with a $1 billion commitment from Tesla, and TikTok is reported to be nearing a deal that could potentially benefit the area with thousands of new jobs. Additionally, at least two other relocations to the area are coming in 2020, according to Y Texas. Even before these future gains, Austin’s rebound from the pandemic’s impact has been one of the strongest in the country.

With the exception of leisure and hospitality, Austin has mostly returned to pre-COVID-19 employment levels.

As of August, the city has recouped 87,500 of the 132,000 jobs it lost earlier in the year. Digging deeper, if you exclude Leisure and Hospitality jobs from Austin’s employment base, the city has already fully recaptured the jobs it lost during March and April. It is the first of the top 50 cities by population size to accomplish this feat. Using the same analysis, Dallas, Phoenix, and Tampa, Fla. were just behind Austin, and all within 2.0% of their previous employment levels. Recruiters and hiring managers are likely already running into challenges with talent supply in these markets for thriving industries and roles, as much of the talent that was temporarily on the sidelines due to layoffs has already been scooped up in the past few months.


Austin is close to recapturing all of the jobs lost during the pandemic.

Related: Austin, New York and Tucson Top Hiring Lists

Austin leisure and hospitality annual job growth chart

The Leisure and Hospitality industry, which includes restaurants, hotels and entertainment, continues to be the most impacted from an employment standpoint in most U.S. markets. Once a vaccine is widely available and COVID-19’s impact on the job market has been minimized, the Leisure and Hospitality industry should rebound quickly in locations like Austin because their core economies appear to be healthier.

As an example, Austin already shows positive year-over-year growth in a variety of industries, despite the pandemic’s impact. The table below shows businesses with at least 4.0% more jobs in August 2020 compared to a year ago, and they span several different segments of the local economy. Among them are: government, retail, professional and business, finance, manufacturing, and construction. When restaurants can fully reopen, conferences can return with a flood of attendees and festivals such as SXSW and Austin City Limits resume, the rest of the market will strengthen even more.

Austin job growth table

LaborIQ® by ThinkWhy expects national employment to exceed pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023. Austin, though, is one of the locations that should be ahead of that date, especially if residents return quickly to eating in restaurants and traveling once a vaccine is available. That’s why, even for areas positioned to be on the recovery’s front end, the timing and availability of the vaccine will be critical, while continued financial stimulus will be needed for those struggling to find work in industries that cannot open.

LaborIQ by ThinkWhy continuously monitors and forecasts labor data at all levels, measuring impact to cities, industries, occupations and business across the U.S.