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Monthly index: Metrics show Bryan-College Station economy continues to perform well

Monthly index: Metrics show Bryan-College Station economy continues to perform well

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The Bryan-College Station area's economy continues to hum along, according to an index that measures a number of economic factors and metrics.

The metro area's unemployment rate, at 2.9 percent, is tied for the lowest rate of the century in the rapidly growing region. Employment has neared an all-time high of about 120,000 jobs 

The College Station-Bryan Business-Cycle Index, released monthly by Texas A&M University's Private Enterprise Research Center (PERC), attempts to reflect the current state of the economy. 

Dennis Jansen, an economics professor at Texas A&M and PERC's director, said the index indicates a steady and healthy economy. 

"In the short term -- and this isn't a technical term -- things are moving along just fine," Jansen said with a laugh Tuesday afternoon, one day after the index's release.

"The economy is growing and things are doing fine, with no signs of imminent problems. No news is good news," he said. He said longer-term forecasts are more difficult to make.

The index rose at an annualized rate of 4.1 percent, still above the long-run average growth rate but down slightly from the growth rate for August.

The state has an unemployment rate of 3.8 percent as of the end of September, according to the index. The national rate is 3.7 percent, and the B-CS rate sits at 2.9 percent, the lowest rate the area has seen since 2000.

Employment in September reached 120,400, an increase of 1,500 jobs from August. It nears a record area high of 122,200 jobs in January, according to Jansen. 

Nonfarm employment in the B-CS area increased from 72,500 in January 1995 to 120,900 in September 2018, an increase of 48,400 employed individuals over the span of 23 years. The top industry employer in the area is the government, with 45,100 employees in September 2018, or 37 percent of the total. Of these, 33,300 are state government employees -- primarily those who work at Texas A&M -- that comprise 28 percent of total employment in the B-CS metro area. 

The other three major industries are trade, transportation and utilities, with those industries combining for 43,600 jobs, or 36 percent of the total employment.

Jansen said the area is less likely to experience sharp fluctuations its economic health because of Texas A&M's presence as a constant, and growing, employer.

"The local economy is less cyclical," Jansen said.

He also anticipated a robust holiday season, and he added that the metrics used in the index account for the seasonal uptick in jobs every November and December. The holiday season's impact on the economy will become evident in the January and February reports. 

To learn more, contact the Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation at 979-260-1755, or visit www.brazosvalleyedc.org.

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