The Rural Capital Area’s Top Three Fastest Growing Counties of 2011 Were Lee, Caldwell, and Williamson
Data was recently released for the full year of 2011, giving us our first look at year-over-year growth rate comparisons. Lee County grew the fastest of all counties in the Rural Capital Area, 11.8%. Growth was driven by over 400 new jobs at local civil engineering firms, likely in shale development. Caldwell County grew 7.4% in 2011, led by a strong rebound in its manufacturing sector. Williamson County grew 6.6% undefined third place – but created the vast majority of new jobs in the region, nearly 8,000.
The Top 3 Fastest Growing Major Industries of 2011 in the Rural Capital Area May Surprise You: Manufacturing, Health Care & Private Education, and Leisure & Hospitality
Manufacturing employment grew 11% in 2011, led by growth in computer equipment, electronic instruments, fabricated metals, stone products, machine shops, and wood products. Health Care & Private Education grew nearly 8% in 2011, led by a large increase in doctors offices (not hospitals), home health care, and nursing care. Private educational schools (K-12 charter and technical schools) grew a surprising 25%. Leisure and Hospitality grew quickly – nearly 7%, primarily due to the expansion of restaurants.
The Wholesale Trade, Transportation and Utilities industry also posted large gains – a 12% increase, but upon further analysis, we discovered that 5,000 new jobs were posted in computer wholesaling in Williamson County that were accompanied by a similar decline in Travis County. This is most likely due to a reclassification (transfer) of workers at Dell from one office in Austin to the Round Rock office – not an actual increase in employment (a rare statistical aberration).
It was also interesting to see that Government employment shrunk 2% in the Rural Capital Area, a rate similar to the US decline despite the region growing faster than the US.