September 22, 2023
It's Friday, folks.
🌂 Today's weather: Mostly sunny, with a high of 98.
🎧 Sounds like: "Texas Sun" by Khruangbin and Leon Bridges.
🎂 Happy birthday to our Axios Austin member Billy Bambrey!
Today's newsletter is 933 words — a 3.5-minute read.
1 big thing: 💻 Remote work lives on
Remote work is holding strong here — 28% of Austin metro area workers were working from home as of 2022, compared to a peak of 32% in 2021, per newly released Census Bureau figures.
Driving the news: That's the second-highest percentage among American metro areas, the highest in Texas and well above the national average.
The big picture: Workers in America's biggest, most competitive cities aren't giving up the flexibility and savings — in both time and gas money — of working from home.
- Every state has more remote workers now than it did in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Flashback: Austin saw the biggest net gain of remote workers of any major city in 2020-21, per a New York Times analysis.
- Steven Pedigo, director of the University of Texas' LBJ Urban Lab and a professor studying economic development, previously told Axios he's optimistic that remote workers will stick around because of the city's social cohesion.
- Plus, he said the city remains less expensive compared to where many moved from, like California and New York.
Zoom out: Overall, 15% of the U.S. worked from home last year, versus nearly 18% in 2021 — but the numbers remain much higher on the East and West coasts and in large metro areas.
- Boulder, Colorado — with just under a tenth of Austin's population — had the highest share of remote workers of any metro area last year at 32%.
- San Francisco and San Jose were both in the top 10, but their main rival for tech jobs — Austin — beat them out.
The other side: Mississippi has the lowest share of remote workers in the U.S., at just 5.5%, and the Southeast generally is well below the national average.
What we're watching: Office vacancy rates downtown remain 3% higher than the metro average, according to the Downtown Austin Alliance's latest quarterly report, signaling that remote work is still having an impact on the city's real estate market.
- Tech companies like Meta have released downtown Austin office space.
- The city of Austin recently acquired an office building to convert it into affordable housing, CoStar reported.
2. Austin's newest museum is nearly 100 years old
Austin is getting a new — though familiar — museum.
Driving the news: The University of Texas museum previously known as the Texas Memorial Museum is reopening tomorrow as the Texas Science & Natural History Museum.
- University leadership has spent the last year reworking the museum's business model, recruiting philanthropic support and planning new exhibits.
Why it matters: The museum is back with a new lease on life after closing in 2022 without plans to reopen, UT News writes.
Flashback: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was on site for the groundbreaking of the Texas Memorial Museum nearly 90 years ago.
- The state Legislature established the museum following complaints from Texas paleontologists that the state had no proper museum to house its most valuable fossils.
Details: Paul Cret, the architect of the UT Tower, designed the museum's art deco building but quit when money ran out to complete his vision of two additional wings.
- The building is still smaller than average with just 18,000 square feet of exhibit space.
What's new: The museum had previously only been funded through the College of Natural Sciences, money from the state and admissions tickets. Now its model will align with peer institutions to include membership programs and private event rentals.
- The building has new lighting and landscaping, carpet tiles to help with acoustics, refreshed legacy exhibits and new ones focused on the museum's history and active UT research.
The grand opening is tomorrow from 10am-2pm, with free admission.
- Starting next week, tickets will cost $10, with senior discounts and free admission to UT ID holders, children under 4 and active military members.
If you go: 2400 Trinity St.
- Hours are 10am-5pm Tuesday to Saturday, 1-5 pm Sunday.
3. 🤠 The Roundup: Wrangling the news
👎 Texas has the most "brain-eating" amoeba infections in the U.S. (KUT)
- Experts recommend avoiding low levels of fresh water in hot weather, holding your nose or using nose clips while swimming and avoiding kicking up dirt in shallow areas.
👀 Matthew McConaughey again floated the possibility of running for political office — though not right now. (KXAN)
"I'm an artist. I'm a storyteller. I'm a folk singer ... [Are] those parts of me that could be useful in a political position of leadership, to be the CEO of a state or country? Maybe."— McConaughey on the "SmartLess" podcast this week
4. 😎 The Weekender
Though the temperatures don't match up, fall begins this weekend.
- And there's lots going on:
🎃 The Dripping Springs Pumpkin Festival hosts its grand opening weekend. The festival, which runs for six weekends, features games, a pumpkin patch and more.
- This weekend has a "Scarecrow Disco," and visitors are encouraged to dress up. $15 admission.
🎭 The Screwtape Letters has its run at Texas Performing Arts with matinee and evening performances daily through Sunday.
- Tickets start at $63.
🏈 UT Tailgate Watch Party for the Baylor game at Skinny's Off Track Bar, 6:30pm on Saturday featuring free hot dogs, $4 Frito pie and $3 tallboys.
🎸 The iconic Pat Benatar and musician-producer Neil Giraldo take the stage at ACL Live at the Moody Theater at 8pm Saturday.
- Tickets start at $59.
🍻 Oktoberfest comes to St. Elmo Brewing Co. from 1-8pm Saturday, featuring the Austin Polka Band and a stein hoisting competition.
🎶 The Bastrop Music Festival is happening all weekend, with a combination of 40 free and ticketed shows.
✨ Austin's Five Star Drag Brunch is at The Courtyard ATX on Sunday. Brunch starts at noon; show starts at 1:30pm.
- Tickets for the show start at $25.
Thanks to Chloe Gonzales for editing and Kate Sommers-Dawes and Keely Bastow for copy editing this newsletter.
💙 Nicole and Asher think you should forward this newsletter to a Pat Benatar fan, an amateur paleontologist and a remote worker.