In the early 2000s, unemployment in the Rural Capital Area matched national unemployment rates, but since 2006 and through the recession, unemployment in the RCA has remained significantly lower than the U.S. Regional unemployment peaked in 2010 at 7.3%, well below U.S. unemployment of 9.6% in the same year.
In addition to the existing educated workforce, the Rural Capital Area has a rising number of residents in the workforce pipeline through the community college system. Enrollment in the Austin Community College system grew consistently through 2012 to reach a graduation level of 2,600 students. Student graduation levels fell 5% in 2013 but rose again by 7% in 2014 and 18% in 2016 to reach a peak of 3,400.
During the same period, enrollment at the University of Texas at Austin dropped from 55,000 in 2005 to 53,000 in 2009. Enrollment levels have rebounded to 55,000 students.
Graduation levels at the University of Texas are at an all-time high. In 2016, UT graduated 17,200 students, about 4,000 more than graduated ten years earlier. As one of the nation’s top public schools producing thousands of graduates a year, the University of Texas remains a significant source of educated workers for Austin and the Rural Capital Area.