BRAZOS COUNTY, TEXAS — Published by the Private Enterprise Research Center at Texas A&M, the December 2021 Economic Indicator report shows that most of Brazos Bounty’s industries have almost achieved full pre-pandemic employment rates.
But for the industry that includes restaurants, entertainment venues and hotels, employment is not back to even 80% of pre-pandemic numbers, sitting just under 79%.
“We have a lot of leisure/hospitality workers who I think - in this community, it’s a lot of students who have decided not to work in our local area," said Dr. Dennis Jansen, director of the research center.
Jansen said it’s not clear why the Aggie student population aren’t seeking these jobs in Brazos County, but it could be any number of factors – including the pay rate here.
“We’ve always been a relatively low wage rate in this area of the state anyhow," he said. "And it could be that as wages are rising in other places, perhaps they’re raising wages faster than we are locally.”
Kristy Petty, owner of Downtown Bryan's Village Cafe and La Vie Boheme Wine Bar said her businesses have been managing to hire and retain new employees long term, particularly due to staff efforts in fostering a positive work environment.
"So many people who were in the industry and had years of experience in the industry are just burned out," Petty said.
While she has been able to employ some Texas A&M students in recent months, Petty said she does notice that college students aren’t flocking back to pre-pandemic jobs.
"They have been affected by COVID-19 through a large part of their school life," she said. "And I think a lot of parents are like, 'just focus on school, you don’t have to work.'"
Petty advises others in her industry to network with fellow business owners they otherwise compete with in order to combat these uncertain times.
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