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Metro Houston’s unemployment rate was 4.8 percent in February, up from 4.5 percent in January and 4.7 percent in February of ‘22 but down from 7.6 percent in February ’21, according to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). The rates are not seasonally adjusted.
TWC estimated the size of Houston’s labor force (not seasonally adjusted) at 3,595,700 in February, of which 3,424,200 were employed and 171,500 unemployed and actively looking for work. That’s up from 159,500 unemployed in January. Labor shortages have pushed up wage rates over the past 18 months, but it’s too soon to tell if the uptick in the number unemployed will cool wage growth.
TWC publishes seasonally adjusted rates for metro areas with a one-month lag. Houston’s seasonally adjusted rate was 4.2 percent in January, down from 4.3 percent in December, 5.4 percent in January ’22, and 7.5 percent in January ’21. Texas’s adjusted rate in January was 3.9 percent and the nation’s was 3.4 percent.
Among cities in the Houston metro area for which TWC publishes rates, Sugar Land and League City tied for the lowest unemployment rates (not seasonally adjusted) in February and Baytown had the highest rate.
Though the media has reported significant layoffs in the U.S. tech and finance sectors, those actions have yet to impact Houston. Initial claims filed for unemployment benefits in the metro area have held constant since the late fall and remain well below pandemic levels.
Continued claims filed by workers who have been unemployed for at least a week after filing the initial claim have ticked up, however. They were higher in January than December but dipped in February. Claims have inched up since the fall suggesting that workers who do lose their jobs are experiencing some difficulty, albeit minor, in finding new employment.
Prepared by Greater Houston Partnership Research
Patrick Jankowski, CERP
Senior Vice President, Research
Metro Houston’s unemployment rate was 4.8 percent in February '23
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