This article has been updated.
New tourism jobs led the state’s overall employment growth in April as Texas set records for the sixth month in a row, according to new numbers Friday from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC).
The San Antonio-New Braunfels metropolitan area’s unemployment rate was 3.3% in April, having fallen 0.2% since March.
Texas as a whole saw employment totals break records for the sixth consecutive month, with total nonfarm employment at nearly 13.3 million in April, marking about 740,000 new jobs filled since last April. Texas’ unemployment rate is 3.7%.
Leisure and hospitality led April’s job gains with around 13,500 jobs added over the month, followed by education and health services.
Zeroing in on the San Antonio region, the leisure and hospitality sector is racing toward what could be a full recovery from the job losses it suffered two years ago. The pandemic devastated the industry, which employs more than 1 in 10 workers in the area, as lockdowns prompted massive layoffs of restaurant workers, hotel employees and many others.
Most of those jobs have since returned, as some employers reported record sales and new expansions. The sector in the San Antonio-New Braunfels metropolitan area employed 134,600 workers in April, a 1.7% increase over the previous month. That’s among the most growth of any major industry in the region, beaten only by the financial services sector.
“One of the hardest-hit industries during the pandemic, San Antonio’s tourism industry is rebounding quicker than anyone could have anticipated,” said Visit San Antonio’s president and CEO Marc Anderson in a statement, adding that it still faces staffing challenges. “San Antonio’s hotels, restaurants, entertainment and cultural institutions saw very strong, and in some cases record-breaking, visitation this spring, which obviously influenced the continued increase in employment”
Local restaurants, hotels and other tourism employers are now just 1,000 jobs shy of the roughly 135,600 it employed in February 2020, the last month measured by the TWC before the pandemic took hold.
However, reaching that pre-pandemic milestone, while significant, will not mark a full recovery. The tourism industry’s job levels wax and wane with the seasons, and winter is historically the low point of the year. The sector is still 4,100 jobs shy of its employment figures in April 2019, when the San Antonio-New Braunfels metropolitan area hospitality sector employed 138,700.
Other regional industries have already made a complete jobs recovery.
The San Antonio region’s overall employment figures surpassed its seasonally adjusted pre-pandemic levels back in January. That strong growth continued in April, when the San Antonio-New Braunfels area added more than 4,000 jobs, now totaling nearly 1.1 million.