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Texas Attracts Almost Half a Million New Workers

published on February 26, 2024

Texas attracted 497,454 potential workers over the past 12 months, according to the Texas Real Estate Research Center’s Outlook for the Texas Economy. This rate continues to “surpass the record-high total labor force according to the household survey.” The unemployment rate fell to 4 percent, the first decrease since April 2023, while the participation rate was high at 64.1 percent.

The labor market was fueled by growth in Houston and San Antonio, while Dallas and Austin held steady. Payrolls grew by 19,100 workers, primarily in education/health services and leisure/hospitality, but professional and business services sector offset a previous gain by losing 14,500 workers. Retail sales activity fell at a slower rate, “indicating retail activity is moving in a positive direction.” Average hourly earnings ticked up 1.19 percent month over month in December 2023 to $32.30. Austin had the highest increase with 82 cents gained.

In December, Texas home sales fell 1.9 percent month over month, hampered by interest rates and seasonal buying changes. San Antonio had a gain of 7.1 percent, while Houston home sales dropped by 16.6 percent, Austin sales dropped by 9.2 percent, and Dallas sales dropped by 3.5 percent.

With the potential for a decrease in interest rates, consumer confidence in Texas increased 6.3 percent. Additionally, the Texas Leading Economic Index grew for the second consecutive month, which could indicate additional economic expansion in the near term. However, exports decreased 9.84 percent month over month and 7.6 percent year over year, fueled by decreases in computer/electronics, petroleum/coal, and chemicals. Demand for beverage and tobacco products shot up 161 percent.

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