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Economic Indicators

"Economic Indicators of the College Station-Bryan MSA" and the College Station-Bryan Business-Cycle Index contained within are products of the Texas A&M Private Enterprise Research Center in conjunction with the Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation.
Founded in 1977 through the generosity of former students, corporations and foundations, PERC pursues a dual mission of supporting academic research at Texas A&M University and developing market-oriented solutions to public policy problems.

Economic Indicators of the
College Station-Bryan MSA
November 2018 Edition


  • The Business-Cycle Index rose at an annualized rate of 4.1%, still above the long-run average growth rate, but slightly from the growth rate for August.
  • The unemployment rate was unchanged in September, remaining at its low 2.9% rate.
  • Employment in September reached 120,000, an increase of 1,500 from August.
  • In September 2018, real taxable sales were down 4% from the September 2017 level.



Figure 1 depicts the College Station-Bryan (CSB) Business-Cycle Index. The September Index estimate is 218, about 1 percentage point higher than the revised August estimate.



The CSB Business-Cycle Index expanded at an annualized rate of 4.1% in September. Growth is positive and continues to be above the average long-run annual growth rate, as seen in Figure 2. Over the course of this year, the annualized growth rate has averaged 2.5%. Nonfarm employment (not graphed) increased in September relative to August by about 1,500 employees, or 1.2%. Real taxable sales in September 2018 (not graphed) were 4% lower than in September 2017.




Figure 3 depicts the unemployment rate from January 2007 to September 2018 in the College Station-Bryan MSA, along with the ratio for Texas and the U.S. In September, the CSB unemployment rate remained at its August level of 2.9%. Between August and September, the U.S. unemployment rate decreased from 3.9% to 3.7%, while the Texas rate dropped from 3.9% to 3.8%.




This month, we highlight several features of the local labor market, including a brief description of the composition of local employment, a comparison of the growth of nonfarm employment in CSB to other major Texas MSAs, and conclude by comparing earnings by industry in CSB to the composition of earnings at the state and national levels.
Nonfarm employment in CSB increased from 72,500 in January 1995 to 120,900 in September 2018, an increase of 48,400 employed individuals over 23 years.1 The top industry employer in CSB is Government with 45,100 employees in September of 2018, or 37% of the total. Of these, 33,300 are state government employees - primarily Texas A&M University employees - that comprise 28% of total employment in the CSB MSA. The other three major industries are: Trade, Transportation and Utilities: 16,100 or 13%; Leisure and Hospitality: 15,900 or 13%; and Education and Health Services: 11,600 or 10% of the total employment.

Figure 5 illustrates how nonfarm employment has grown for metropolitan areas in the state of Texas and for the state as a whole. For this figure, each MSA’s nonfarm employment count is indexed to its respective values in January 1995. With January 1995 set to 100, indexed nonfarm employment in the state of Texas has grown to 158.4 in September 2018, indicating a 58.4% increase over this period. Employment in the Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos MSA grew the most at 108.9%. Employment in the College Station-Bryan MSA grew 66.2%, third among the metro areas included in the graph. The time series of CSB employment shows less volatility during recessions and slower growth during recoveries because Texas A&M University employment is less cyclical than the private sector.


Figure 6 displays the share of total earnings by industry for the U.S., Texas, and the College Station-Bryan MSA as of the first quarter of 2018.2 Locally, the earnings from Government comprise the largest share of all earnings, accounting for 37.8%. Given that earnings from Government make up such a large share of total earnings in CSB, the other industries’ shares are lower than the state and national shares. For example, nationwide, employees in Professional and Business Services garner the largest share of earnings at 18.8%. The state of Texas is near the national rate at 18.0% of earnings from employment in this industry, while only 8.5% of CSB earnings were from Professional and Business Services. Similarly, 4.9% of earnings are from Financial Activities in CSB, compared to 11.7% nationally. Earnings in Manufacturing account for 10.6% of the national total, while accounting for 5.4% locally.


The extent of the College Station-Bryan MSA is defined by the Census Bureau and includes Brazos, Burleson, and Robertson counties. The Business-Cycle Index is re-estimated each month using the most recent data for the four economic variables included in the model: the unemployment rate, nonfarm employment, real wages, and real taxable sales. The real wage series is released on a quarterly basis with the other three released monthly. The underlying data series are subject to revision. Due to new monthly data and revisions of past data, the Index and the Business-Cycle may differ from previous estimates.
For more details about the CSB Business-Cycle Index see: Methodology for Constructing an Economic Index for the College Station-Bryan Metropolitan Statistical Area.




1The data series presented in this figure do not sum to the nonfarm employment series previously mentioned due to different seasonal adjustment methods between the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
2These data are from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and include agricultural and farming employment, whereas the employment data in Figure 4 exclude farm employment. The Other category includes Other Services and Unclassified. Natural Resources and Mining are combined with Construction to form Mining, Natural Resources, and Construction.




Unemployment Rate
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Unemployment by Metropolitan Area, Seasonally Adjusted, Local Area Unemployment Statistics, retrieved from Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/lau/metrossa.htm
Nonfarm Employment
Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Texas Workforce Commission, and Bureau of Labor Statistics, Total Nonfarm Payroll Employment for College Station-Bryan, TX (MSA), two-step Seasonally Adjusted, retrieved from Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, https://www.dallasfed.org/research/econdata/brysa.aspx
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Total Quarterly Wages in College Station-Bryan, TX (MSA) [ENUC177830010SA], Seasonally Adjusted, retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=l5Wo
Taxable Sales (Sales and Use Tax Allocation)
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Allocation Payment Detail, Current Period Collections. Data available through Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts: https://mycpa.cpa.state.tx.us/allocation/AllocDetail for years 2016 to 2018. Historical data prior to 2016 from Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers: All Items [CPIAUCSL], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CPIAUCSL. Wages and Taxable Sales are converted to real dollars (inflation-adjusted) using the CPI-U.
Employment by Industry
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, All Employees by Industry in College Station-Bryan, TX retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
Earnings by Industry
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, NAICS-Based Data Files: https://www.bls.gov/cew/datatoc.htm.

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