Although most newcomers choose to live a suburban life, job growth in Central Austin is now outpacing job growth in the suburbs, according to a new report from City Observatory, a Portland, Oregon-based think tank.
In fact, Austin now leads all other U.S. cities in terms of the percentage of its overall workforce working downtown and in downtown job growth.
According to the report titled “Surging City Center Job Growth,” the downtown-oriented job growth in Austin mirrors trends seen in metro areas across the nation, reversing suburban-oriented job growth trends that stretch back more than 50 years.
As recently as the five years from 2002 to 2007, job growth was still suburban-oriented around U.S. cities. Then, job growth in suburban areas was growing at about 1.2 percent annually, compared to 0.1 percent in urban cores. But between 2007 and 20011, a switch happened, with job growth in urban cores rising to 0.5 percent annually, while suburban jobs shrank by 0.1 percent.
In Austin, the urban core job growth flip has been more dramatic. Between 2002 and 2007, city-center job growth in Austin was about 0.6 percent annually and suburban job growth was about 3.1 percent annually. Between 2007 and 2011, though, city center job growth in Austin surged to 3.4 percent annually while suburban job growth slowed to 2.3 percent annually. That’s the fastest-growing urban core job growth in the nation in that time. Austin, with 28.8 percent of its jobs located in the urban core, now has the highest level of core employment in the nation, ahead of even New York City, which only has about 23 percent of its employment in its urban core.
But while Austin’s new jobs are moving downtown, Austin’s overall population growth has, recently, been driven by growth in the suburbs, a fact underscored in a recent Austin Business Journal cover story that found that more than 62 percent of the Austin-area’s population growth since 2010 has been centered in about 54 suburban census tracts, with the fastest growing areas being Pflugerville, Round Rock and San Marcos.
By: Michael Theis