COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Texas A&M’s Private Enterprise Research Center recently released its report on the Bryan-College Station summer economic indicators.
“On the one hand, if you look at statistics like gross domestic product, or if you look at statistics like personal consumption expenditures; or locally, if you look at statistics like taxable sales, we are definitely back to where we were pre-pandemic,"said Dr. Dennis Jansen, director of said research center. "... In the labor market, the story’s a little bit different.”
The report notes that Brazos County unemployment rates had dropped down from 5.1% to 5.0% in June.
Still, businesses like Tacobar in College Station are straining to find new hires.
"When it comes to staffing, we’re still behind on trying to get to pre-COVID days," said Rolando Gonzalez, owner of Tacobar. "And it’s kind of scary that we’re ten days –twelve days, I believe, from the first [Texas A&M] home football game. So we’re trying to make sure we get those staffing levels to where they need to be, to fully be able to serve our guests.”
Although unemployment rates are decreasing slightly, they are still higher than what they were pre-pandemic, according to Dr. Jansen. He said that prior to the spread of COVID-19, local unemployment rates were below three percent. He noted that many factors are at play as to why Texans are either unemployed, or else choosing to leave the workforce.
“There’s both retirements, there’s people staying at home, either for childcare reasons or for health reasons," Jansen explained. "And, you know, I think there’s also some incentive effect, because we had a period of federal supplements to the unemployment compensation payments - which has ended.”
Despite the pitfalls of the pandemic, Rolando Gonzalez remains hopeful about his financial situation, and will be opening a new street corn food truck venture outside of an H-E-B in College Station on Wednesday, with a daylong profit-share of one hundred percent to the Voices for Children charity.
“So it’s a challenge itself," Gonzalez said. "But... you just never want to stop growing, even in tough times, you know.”
The economic indicator report also states that the Brazos County economy saw a slight increase in sales tax over the summer, with an increase of 0.6% in June. Sales tax rates now equal those seen in February of 2020, before the state shut down.
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