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I’m regularly asked for specific articles as to how Austin ranks regarding economic growth, jobs, startups, real estate and other factors. The ABJ has provided a great, updated list. I would also add the following link to a story from the Chamber showing Austin as the NUMBER ONE job market in the US with 4.4% growth rate and 35,300 new jobs in the last 12 months.

21 examples of Austin's economic might
Colin Pope  Editor- Austin Business Journal    Link to ABJ Article

Magazines, think tanks and list makers have ranked Austin high on some high-profile lists and reports during the past few months.

Here they are — most of them calculated upon hard economic data so we put stock in them.

Finally, in the interest of balanced journalism and to prove these list makers aren’t on the take, here are the rare occasions where Austin took a list beating during the past three months.

Austin ranked near the bottom on Forbes magazine's "Best Cities for Working Mothers" list.

And Austin comes in at No. 21 on a ranking of 25 major U.S. cities' public transit systems.

I know plenty of happy, working moms so I’ll take issue with Forbes on that one. The public transit issue? No comment.

Good update from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M on the state of the US real estate as reported at the International Homebuilder’s Show in Las Vegas.

  • Household (single family, condo, multi-family) units are now being created at the rate of 850,000 units per year vs a high of 1.4 during the peak and a low of 500,000
  • NAHB is forecasting 299,000 multifamily starts this year and 317,000 in 2014
  • Construction costs (labor and materials) are increasing rapidly.
  • Constraints on mortgage credit helps fuel more growth in multi-family (more renters instead of home buyers).
  • Demographics on Homebuyers:
    • Average home size has increased from 2,362 sf in 2009 to 2,524 sf in 2012.
    • 74 percent of NAHB’s survey respondents want a kitchen that opens to the family room either completely or with a half wall, and 65 percent want nine-foot ceilings on the first floor.
    • Energy Star-rated appliances topped the list of “most wanted” home features, with 94 percent of respondents rating them “essential/must have” or “desirable.” Laundry room was right behind at 93 percent, followed by Energy Star rating for whole home (91 percent), and bathroom exhaust fan, bathroom linen closet and exterior lighting (90 percent each).
    • Home technology features buyers would most like to have are wireless home security systems (50 percent), programmable thermostats (47 percent), security cameras (40 percent) and lighting control system (39 percent).

Source - RECON
Real Estate Center Online News
January 24, 2013

Tuesday, Dec. 17th marked the 27th annual Economic Forecast in which a selective panel of experts were here to answer pressing questions of what's on the horizon for the city of Austin and the state of Texas. For a comprehensive presentation see the 2013-2014 Angelos Angelou Economic Forecast.

Austin ranks number three in the nation in job growth with a 3.5% change over the last 12 months resulting in 28,200 new jobs.

Here’s a quick recap from the Chamber report on jobs.

Job Growth

  • Austin ranks number three in the nation in job growth with a 3.5% change over the last 12 months resulting in 28,200 new jobs. Public and all private sectors added jobs
  • Texas had a combined public/private sector job growth rate of 2.6%. Four out of the top 10 cities for job growth were in Texas with Houston the number one growth market in the US
  • US showed an overall job growth rate of 1.4%

Number of Jobs

  • Austin has now added 44,200 jobs from it’s peak employment on November 2008
  • Texas has added 248,800 jobs from its peak employment on November 2008
  • The US remains 4.3 million jobs short of peak employment set on November 2007 (60 months ago!)

Unemployment Rate

  • Austin has the second lowest rate of unemployment out of 50 largest metros at 5.3% vs 6.6% this time last year. (Houston by comparison dropped from 7.7% last year to 6.2% this year. Within the AUSTIN MSA, Travis and Hays counties have the lowest unemployment rate with 5.2%). 
  • Texas’s unemployment rate is 6.3% compared to 7.6% last October. 
  • The US October unemployment rate is 7.5% vs 8.5% last year. 

Employment by Industry

  • Austin’s fastest growing segment over the last 12 months: Professional and Business Services – 10,700 jobs (or 9.1%)
  • Texas’s fastest growing segments over the last 12 months: Both Construction and Natural Resources grew by 7.1%. 

Click here for link to article.

Housing continues to make a comeback following the real estate depression of 2007 through 2011.  Job growth (albeit tepid), rising rents and population growth are the trifecta to increased sales and prices.  October 2012 saw a Seasonally-Adjusted Annualized Sales Rate (SAAR) of 4.79 million existing homes, a gain of more than 10 percent from October 2011. Prices also increased year-over-year, with the monthly median rising 11.1 percent to $178,600.  The latest 12-month moving average median sales price of $172,800 (and calculating the 12-month average gets rid of the monthly noise in the data—so it is a superior measure) is 4.4 percent greater than the 12-month moving average of $165,660 in October 2011.  So home prices, on average across the country, are up 4.4 percent in the past year.   And that is a great return in today’s economic environment where the current yield on a 10-year Treasury is 1.61 percent—and you can’t live in that security instrument. 

The number of months of inventory continued its slow fluttering descent, dipping to 5.4 months (we believe that six months of inventory is normal for existing homes, and that inventory less than this rate results in rising home prices—confirmed once again this past month).


  • 12 percent of October sales were foreclosures marketed at an average discount of 20 percent compared to non-distressed properties sales
  • 12 percent of October transactions were short sales closed at a typical discount of 14 percent compared to non-distressed transactions
  • October’s inventory of 2.14 million listings (5.4 months of supply at the current sales rate) was the least since February 2006 and has declined 21.9 percent in past 12 months
  • Homeowner’s equity in housing increased $760 billion in the prior 12 months, with NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun forecasting a gain of $1 trillion in 2013 (which each month reduces the number of underwater homeowners)
  • One-third of the homes (32 percent) sold in October had been on the market less than one month and one-fifth had been listed for six-months or more
  • First-time homebuyers (a prerequisite for the move-up market) made up 31 percent of all October 2012 sales
  • All-cash purchases, which in normal times represents from 12 to 14 percent of the market, made up 29 percent of all October closings

Once again the story is less-than-normal inventory, as shown in the following graph.  The line indicates the normal six-month inventory level.

The number of home sales continues to rebound, as shown in the next graph, featuring a 12-month moving average of SAAR of sales.  One of the issues now is to define the new normal.  Increased down payment requirements, desiring but credit-unworthy buyers, and a return to more stringent mortgage loan underwriting standards, without question, has reduced the number of sales that had occurred in the past under equal economic conditions.  Perhaps the last normal period we had was 2002, a time after the recession of 2001 and prior to the significant increase in subprime lending.  That said, 5.4 to 5.5 million existing home sales annually may be where we are heading.  All will agree that the seven million home sales observed in 2006 was not sustainable.

The last graph shows the 12-month moving average of median prices.  Despite the 4.4 percent 12-month increase, current price levels are on average 23 percent less than the peak price of $224,350 posted in July 2006.  But they are rising at a strong trajectory.

To read the entire press release from the National Association of Realtors® click

The bottom line is that housing continues to recover with shrinking inventory setting the stage for ongoing price increases.