Austin has been attracting workforce talent since the beginning of the pandemic. We have written about Austin becoming a tech hub, with some big names like Tesla, Dell, Apple, and Amazon opening offices and manufacturing centers there. It is the fasted growing city in Texas and in the nation over the past 10 years, and that is partly because of the high-paying jobs. A fifth of all jobs in Austin are in tech careers.
The unemployment rate in Austin is at 2.7%, compared to 3.6% nationally, and some industries are struggling to hire. Some are offering higher pay and sign-on bonuses to lure new hires. But what might happen to Austin if the predicted recession becomes reality?
Even with an economic slump possibly on the horizon, Austin’s allure isn’t dimming. The Austin Chamber of Commerce isn’t concerned. They tout the diversity of the local economy and the influx of tech giants like Tesla to bolster the claim that a recession won’t impact the city as badly as it may in other places.
Christa Freeland, founding executive of the Austin Venture Association, says, “Austin will still be a great place to start a family, enjoy the region with better work/life balance” and affordable cost of living. Austin is also a hub for creative culture, is home to the University of Texas, and boasts South by Southwest (SXSW) and Austin City Limits (ACL) music festivals.
In addition, according to an annual report by the CBRE, Austin is 6th in the Top Ten Tech Talent Markets for 2021. It moved up one spot from last year’s report. The criteria include 13 measures of a region’s ability to attract and develop tech talent, including tech graduation rates, the size of the tech labor pool, and the concentration of tech job opportunities, among others.
Tech companies, especially the big ones, can wait out an economic slump and tend to profit from them. They can buy up small companies that are foundering, becoming bigger and more profitable and that is good news for metro areas like Austin.
There is an initiative in Austin called the Greater Austin STEM Ecosystem which fosters connection and collaboration to make sure that STEM education is available and accessible to all students throughout Greater Austin. In addition, Governor Abbott has awarded 17 grants to various Texas Universities and community colleges for STEM summer youth camps. They provide scholarships to 2,231 students to attend the camps to prepare them for in-demand jobs. Incentivizing young people to consider STEM careers is part of the strategy to remain attractive as a tech hub in the future.