Austin is many things to many people. It is diverse in both employment and amusements.
Technology, bioscience, organic food distributors, and service industries are major employers. Educators, musicians, film makers, and artists also top the list of local careers. As the state capital, Austin is the political center of Texas.
A diverse economy is one of Austin's strengths. Though it struggled during the national recession that begain in 2001, unemployment consistently hovers just above four percent - in January of 2006 it was down to 3.9 percent, below the national average of 4.7 percent. Surrounding towns continue to grow as people relocate to the metro area.
Flavored by its location in central Texas, Austin's culture reflects regional influences. Country music, native handicrafts, and southwest jewelry are pervasive. Tex-Mex foods are prevalent in both home kitchens and restaurants. Visitors can learn the Texas two-step on any given dance floor in the city.
Yet Austin has an identity all its own, distinct from other Texas cities. Music, film, and multimedia projects embrace worldly sounds and visions. High technology companies foster a professional, well educated workforce. Green parks and fitness trails - not a cowboy image - entice people outdoors for recreation and sport.
State and local politics - enacted in Austin - focus on relations with nearby Mexico and on preserving Hispanic heritage locally.
Living in Austin
Notable - and honorable - mentions
Austin is a city of superlatives. In 2002, Money Magazine named it one of the best place in the United States to live and work. CNNMoney.com also noted Austin as a contender for the best places to live in 2005. The Wall Street Journal has ranked it in the top four most livable cities.
Most wired city is another moniker Austin has earned - by having the highest percentage of home Internet use of all U.S. cities. It also has one of the highest per capita book sales.
Austin is known as the Live Music Capital of the World, and state government officially recognizes the suburb of Lockhart as the barbecue capital of Texas. Strangely enough, Austin is home to the world's largest urban colony of Mexican free-tailed bats.
Taken together, these descriptions provide a hint of Austin's diverse personality.
Dealing with growth
Austin has also experienced some of the fastest growth among U.S. metropolitan areas in the last two decades. Growing pains have ensued - in the form of traffic congestion, stresses on the environment, and a rise in housing costs.
Still, overall the cost of living is slightly below the national average, and the quality of life is very high.
Austin has suffered - along with the rest of the country - from a sagging economy in recent years, and it faces growth issues. On the whole, however, Austin is described as a liveable, progressive, welcoming city with much to offer newcomers.