BRAZOS COUNTY, Texas — Recent economic statistics from Texas A&M’s Private Enterprise Research Center [PERC] show that fewer job seekers in the Aggieland area are having issues finding employment, while those traveling out of the area aren’t making as many trips.
The most recent economic indicator report for Bryan-College Station shows that the local unemployment rate dropped from 5.0% to 4.4% in mid-July. Economic experts believe it could drop slightly lower now that college students are back in town for the fall semester.
“Disproportionately, people are returning to work in entertainment, food services and the like," said Dr. Dennis Jansen, director of PERC at Texas A&M. "This was the sector most impacted a year-and-a-half ago.”
According to Jansen, the recovery from a recession tends to be pretty gradual. He noted that the economic indicator report shows a slight decrease in non-farm industry employment during July; a decline of about 200 people for Brazos County. This trend contrasting with the unemployment rate could be due to mere differences in data collection methods, Jansen explained. Or, it could indicate that more people are willingly leaving the workforce.
Matt Prochaska, president and CEO of the Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation [EDC] commented that the current job market stands to benefit the job seeker.
“It’s really the law of supply and demand," he said. "So what we’re seeing happen is, employers are offering more, whether it be higher wages or more benefits, in order to attract those workers."
Prochaska also said the time is right for local entrepreneurs to begin new ventures.
“What we’re actually seeing is, during times of hardships and downturn in the economy, there’s much more resiliency and entrepreneurship," he commented. "So it’s a great time to start a business in the Brazos Valley.”
The economic indicator report also states that travel through Easterwood Airport recently dropped by 7%. Dr. Jansen noted that this change is not specific to Easterwood.
“Those figures occurred nationally," he said. "If you look at TSA numbers in July... nationally, [travelers] going through checkpoints at the TSA were 80% of the value they were two years ago.”