Statewide Texas is in a good place. Our seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 6.9 percent in May 2012 – a marked decrease from 8.1 percent in May 2011. The Texas Workforce Commission reports that the state’s unemployment rate has consistently remained well below the national rate (as of May 2012 the national unemployment rate was 8.1 percent). And overall the Texas labor market continues to make positive gains with the addition of jobs and a decline in the unemployment rate – including job gains across 10 of 11 major statewide industry sectors.
Austin has also reaped these positive economic benefits. Even in challenging times the city has experienced steady job economic and income growth – and all have contributed to a thriving business climate. For example the unemployment rate here was 5.5 percent as of May 2012 – putting it below the national and state average and an impressive 1.3 percentage points below Austin’s 6.8 percent unemployment rate in May 2011.
That kind of positive news has people and businesses from around the country headed to Austin for its lower overall cost of living fair tax structure lower cost of doing business and competitive environment. In Chief Executive magazine’s eighth annual survey of CEO opinion of Best and Worst States to do business Texas ranked first for the eighth consecutive year – while Forbes ranked Austin first in 2012 as the Best City for Jobs.
Austin company relocations and expansions in the last year – companies that are planning creating relocating or expanding their facilities here – included such companies as Apple Inc. Progressive Insurance Netspend Kinnser Software Lumeris Mitratech (legal software) AT&T Labs Cirrus Logic eBay/PayPal Evernote HostGator Informatica Rackspace Managed Hosting and Office Depot among other organizations.
Besides the city’s beautiful and scenic surroundings Austin’s cost of living is much less than many major cities – and that’s yet another reason companies – and relocating families – are attracted to the area. According to the most recent numbers from the ACCRA Cost of Living Index (first quarter 2012) Austin has a composite index of 95.7 – on par with Atlanta (98.1) Dallas (99.8) Charlotte (94.5) and Raleigh (91.2) but far below Boston (139.4) Los Angeles (132.3) and New York (228.3) in terms of the cost of grocery housing utilities transportation and healthcare. (See chart in this section for a full picture of Austin’s ACCRA Cost of Living Index ranking in comparison to other metro areas.)
It’s affordable to live here too. According to the most recent information from the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce the median home value in Austin was $180100 as of January 2012 while the national median was $188400. Texas also doesn’t have either a personal or corporate income tax adding to its relocation appeal. In fact according to the nonprofit TaxFoundation.org Texas has one of the lowest state and local tax burdens in the nation at 7.9 percent of income (ranking 45th of 50 states nationally) and below the national average of 9.8 percent.
Because we’ve remained an affordable place to live and work growth in the Austin MSA has skyrocketed – increasing by 17 percent since 2000 and expected to double in the next 25 years – to 2780504 by 2030. In particular Williamson Hays and Bastrop counties have been consistently ranked among the top 100 fastest-growing counties in the country since 2000 – and all expect double-digit growth for the next 20 years.