Texas employment growth is projected to slow down this year.
But by how much?
“Last year, based on the data that we have so far, job growth was about 2.4 percent, which is above our long term average,” says Keith Phillips, senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. “This year, I think job growth will slow closer to 1-and-a-half percent.”
Phillips presented the Bank’s annual Texas Economic Outlook to local business leaders in San Antonio Tuesday.
— Dallas Fed (@DallasFed) January 15, 2019
He explains there are two big reasons the state is expected to add fewer jobs this year. One is a slowdown in the energy sector because of lower oil prices. The other has to do with the fact that unemployment in Texas is at a record low, making it hard for employers to find workers.
“They would like to hire more,’ Phillips says, “but they can’t so that suppresses job growth in areas that are still very strong, such as Dallas, and Austin, and San Antonio.”
Phillips adds that while the biggest overall risk to the economy is a drop in oil prices and exports – the effects won’t be felt everywhere, as they were back in the 1980s. He says that’s because nowadays, you could break up Texas into several different economies.
“Basically West Texas is like North Dakota – it’s very energy sensitive,” he says. “Austin is more technology sensitive, Dallas is the financial center, San Antonio has a lot of government and tourism and healthcare, and so each area has its own dependence.”
Phillips says that even in the face of economic uncertainty at the national level, the Texas economy will still remain strong this year.
The government shutdown, now in its 26th day, continues to affect employees at Big Bend National Park in West Texas.
Marfa Public Radio’s Mitch Borden spoke with Libby Campbell, the executive director of the West Texas Food Bank, which is teaming with another food bank to help employees at Big Bend National Park. Campbell says her group is planning to set up an aid station for workers that’ll resemble a convenience store. “So we’ll have milk and fresh produce, eggs, meat those kinds of things, Campbell says. “Basically, they’ll be able to just go through and shop.”
Campbell says the West Texas Food Bank will continue to work to support those who need help as the government stays shut down.
And amid the government shutdown, Texas lawmakers are urging President Trump not to use Hurricane Harvey relief funds to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Gov. Greg Abbott, the state’s two Republican U.S. Senators, and a bipartisan group of House members released a letter Tuesday.
The President has weighed using disaster money to build the barrier, as Congress has not appropriated the billions he wants.