Job openings in Texas as of September reached an all-time high at 1,026,000. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the state has once again topped one million openings after a few months below that level (initially reached in June).
Last September, there were 855,000 openings in Texas; the current number represents a sizable gain. For the United States, the increase was much smaller (from 10,673,000 in September 2021 to 10,717,000 this year). Stated differently, the overall growth in openings in Texas over the past year is almost four times the number for the entire country.
Nationally, the number of job openings increased from August to September by 437,000. Texas accounted for the largest increase of any state (+96,000). Michigan (+58,000) and Virginia (+40,000) also saw significant escalation. Note that these estimates are seasonally adjusted, thus accounting for typical variations.
BLS also tracks the job openings rate, which is the number of job openings as a percentage of the sum of employment and job openings. The U.S. level is 6.5%, and Texas is 7.0%. There are 16 states with rates above 7.0%. Among the highest are Alaska, Wyoming, and Virginia. Among other large states, California is 6.1% and Florida is 6.0%.
It’s not necessarily a “win” to be high on the job opening roster. While plentiful open positions are beneficial to individuals looking for employment (assuming they have the needed skills), it’s a problem for businesses. Not only are expansion plans jeopardized, but so are normal operations. They are generally a sign of strength, but also a harbinger of capacity limits going forward. Texas is blessed with an expanding pool of current and potential future workers but must invest in education and training to transform this resource into reality.
In Texas, there are almost twice as many job openings as there are unemployed persons. The Texas unemployment rate in September was 3.8%. In some metropolitan areas, it was below 3.0% (such as Amarillo (2.8%), Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown (2.8%), and Midland (2.9%)).
Economists generally consider 4.0% to be “full employment,” which is the level of maximum jobs with the economy still able to function efficiently. When it goes much below that, issues arise such as not being able to fill jobs promptly.
A million open jobs across the state is a two-edged achievement. It’s no doubt a sign of economic vitality and dynamism, but also of the potential for worker shortages. Having a large cadre of available jobs is far better than rampant unemployment, but can become problematic. Thus far, Texas has successfully navigated the tight labor market conditions and continued to add jobs at a notable pace. To sustain this pattern will require concerted action. Stay safe!
Dr. M. Ray Perryman is President and Chief Executive Officer of The Perryman Group (www.perrymangroup.com), which has served the needs of more than 3,000 clients over the past four decades.