News Column

El Paso Economy Grew 0.8% Last Quarter

July 2, 2013

El Paso's economy grew slightly faster than the national economy in the first quarter, but slower than the economies of other large Texas metro areas, according to the latest Brookings Institution's MetroMonitor.

El Paso's economic output grew 0.8 percent in the January-March quarter, compared to the national growth rate of 0.7 percent.

Austin's economic growth rate of 1.5 percent was the best among the nation's 100 largest metro areas, shows the report released Monday.

El Paso's overall economic performance is "middle of the pack" in the first quarter, said Alec Friedhoff, a senior research analyst at Brookings and co-author of the MetroMonitor report.

But El Paso's economic recovery since the recession is

strong, he noted.

El Paso's economic recovery since the recession ranks 35th best in the nation, the Brookings report shows.

Nationwide, economic growth "continues at a slow, steady pace," Friedhoff said.

The nation is recovering jobs at a steady pace since the recession, but "sort of too slow to make a big dent in the unemployment rate."

The national unemployment rate was 7.6 percent in May, compared to 9.3 percent in El Paso.

El Paso jobs grew only 0.2 percent in the first quarter -- below the national job-growth rate of 0.4 percent, and below growth rates in several other Texas metro areas -- Houston (0.9 percent), Dallas (0.7 percent), and Austin (0.6 percent).

San Antonio lost jobs in the quarter

at a rate of 0.1 percent.

In New Mexico, Albuquerque's first-quarter job-growth rate matched the national rate of 0.4 percent.

El Paso's education, finance and insurance, and leisure and hospitality sectors had the largest job gains in the first quarter, with growth rates of 1 percent or more, Brookings reported.

Brookings also released data showing the health-care sector has grown faster in the nation's largest metro areas than any other sector in the last 10 years, and, it found, the sector has played an important part in helping many metro areas recover from the recession.

In El Paso, almost 19 percent of employment growth since the recession has been in the health-care sector, which ranks as the 19th highest percentage among the 100 largest metro areas, Brookings found.

El Paso added almost 4,000 health-care sector jobs from the second quarter of 2009, when El Paso's employment level hit its recessionary bottom, to the first quarter of this year, the report shows.

Nationally the health-care sector grew from 11.9 million jobs to 14.5 million jobs from 2003 to 2013 -- an almost 23 percent increase, Brookings reported.

"In a national economy that is still 2.5 million jobs short of its pre-recession peak, health-care is a bright spot," Martha Ross, a Brookings fellow and co-author of the Metro Monitor's health-care supplement research, said in a written statement.



Source: Copyright El Paso Times (TX) 2013. Distributed by MCT Information Services


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