Forbes has put Austin at the top of another list, this time as the metro area with the most economic momentum heading into 2014.
Austin ranked No. 1 in the nation, beating out San Antonio and Salt Lake City, which ranked No. 2 and No. 3 respectively. The Texas capital saw job growth of 11.8 percent from Aug. 2007 to Oct. 2013 and a massive GDP growth of 21.7 percent from 2007 to 2012.
The Austin region’s unemployment rate averaged 5.4 percent in 2013, putting Austin among the most economically healthy U.S. cities. The unemployment rate is expected to fall a little further in 2014.
The city’s impressive population growth is also expected to continue as well. Forbes reports a 16.3 percent population growth between 2007-2012 with a net domestic migration gain of 17.0 per 1,000 between 2010-2012. The birthrate is about 14.2 per 1,000 as well.
But before we pop the champagne and congratulate ourselves, consider there is some downside to consider.
Forbes reports a median household income change of -5.4 percent. The magazine doesn’t examine that statistic further, but I think it merits attention. The loss in median income combined with rising home prices and some of highest rents in Central Texas have squeezed Austin’s families more than most.
I won’t go in depth again on our traffic problems here, but they’re not going away in 2014. Consider that the five-county area is expected to grow from 1.8 million people now to about 3.25 million in 2035, according to the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. Current plans to expand roadways and introduce tolls won’t help much.