According to a locally produced economic index, the Bryan-College Station unemployment rate remains at a record low, and the overall economy is performing well. That’s according to the College Station-Bryan Business-Cycle Index, which measures the local economy and is released monthly by the Private Enterprise Research Center at Texas A&M.
The report also indicates that the hospitality and service industry is the fastest-growing local labor sector.
PERC Executive Director Dennis Jansen said last week that the College Station-Bryan Index indicates the local unemployment rate remains at 2.6%, a record low. The rate, which is the same as last month’s, has steadily dropped over the course of the past six months.
Jansen said local taxable sales decreased by 2% between August and September but are up 6.3% from the same month a year ago.
Additionally, nonfarm employment in September decreased from its previous level by 0.4% but increased 1.5% relative to September 2018.
“The economy is continuing to roll along. Things are generally continuing to be good,” Jansen said. He added that the month-to-month decreases in taxable sales and nonfarm employment are not, by themselves, a point of concern considering the year-over-year growth of both metrics.
“We would largely say that that’s because we’re a much smaller metropolitan statistical area than what we’re comparing ourselves to,” Jansen said. “When you do sampling over a smaller set of numbers, you get a little more volatility.”
The index runs with a lag time of nearly two months, meaning the numbers are accurate as of Sept. 30. The index is built from four components: the unemployment rate, wages, total nonfarm employment and taxable sales.
The Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation sponsors the index.
According to another recently released report, the Texas A&M Real Estate Center’s Monthly Review of the Texas Economy, the local unemployment rate, at 2.6%, is one of the lowest in the state. Midland, at 2.1%, and Amarillo, at 2.4%, were the only metro areas to report a lower rate. The statewide rate is 3.3%, according to the A&M Real Estate Center’s review.
The Bryan-College Station metropolitan statistical area, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, includes Brazos, Robertson and Burleson counties.
Accompanying analysis of its four regular metrics, the index observes a different topic each month to analyze area economic data. This month’s focus section looked at the composition of the local labor market by industry over time.
Andy Rettenmaier, who works as the research center’s associate executive director, said that nonfarm employment in the area increased from 73,700 in September 1995 to 123,400 in September 2019, an increase of 49,700 workers over 24 years.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, government — inclusive of federal, state and local employees — proved to be the largest sector locally with 43,100 employees, or 35% of the most recent total.
Rettenmaier noted that those 43,100 employees garner 37% of the metro area’s wages.
“That means that these workers are paid higher than the average worker in the local economy,” Rettenmaier said.
Employment in the Bryan-College Station metro area grew 69% since 1995, third among the metro areas in the state behind the Austin and Dallas areas.