Green shoots of hope for local economy

Cheer up, Dallas-Fort Worth. Things aren’t as bad as they seem. And they’re a whole lot better here than in the rest of the country.

Despite still-steep gas prices, 10% higher grocery costs, and some grim news lately about layoffs, the area economy is doing very well, according to some sunny labor statistics recently released by the federal government.

The reason behind this badly needed good news: The area’s highly diversified economy, which once again has buoyed our region during tumultuous times.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the 13-county Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area added 294,700 jobs in the 12 months that ended in May. That represented an impressive 7.7% increase, well above the 4.5% national average.

Area economists told our colleague Mitchell Schnurman that the upward trend will continue. Thomas Vick, regional director of the staffing firm Robert Half, said hiring is “still so hot” because of the area’s diverse economy. That economy has continued to attract immigrants from California, New York and Illinois, looking to escape higher costs of living.

A closer look at the region’s labor statistics tells the story.

Overall, the sector that added the most jobs – 73,800 – was professional and business services, such as doctors, lawyers, architects, engineers and accountants. Most of those — 61,100 — were in the Dallas-Plano-Irving metropolitan division, with the balance in the Fort Worth-Arlington division.

But while that sector had the greatest number of jobs gained, representing 11% growth, it wasn’t the only one that outpaced national averages. Trade, transportation and utilities grew 7.5%, nearly double the national rate. Education and health services grew 5%, also almost double the national pace.

More significant was the region’s growth in the financial services sector at 8.3%, compared to an anemic 2.3% nationally. The growth was even bigger in the Dallas-Plano-Irving division, which saw nearly a 10% spike in financial jobs gained. That’s a nice bit of news given the recent announcement by Plano’s First Guaranty Mortgage Corp., which last month laid off 75% of its staff and filed for bankruptcy protection.

But perhaps we are most pleased to see the big job gains in the leisure and hospitality industry, which continues to show signs of recovery from COVID-19. That sector added 61,400 jobs in the year that ended in May, for a whopping 17% growth – more than in any other sector and almost 5% more than the national average.

Like many businesses, hotels and restaurants suffered greatly during the pandemic. But thanks to the area’s diversified economy, they and others are bouncing back.

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