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Jobless claims are down nationwide, but how are things looking in Texas?

Posted at 6:50 PM, Aug 19, 2021

A recent report for the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics showed unemployment claims hit a pandemic low, which economists believe could be the indicator of an economic rebound.

Last year 22 million jobs were cut due to the pandemic, so far 16.7 million have been recovered, the national unemployment rate now sitting at 5.4 percent but how is the rebound looking locally?

The unemployment rate in Texas is higher than the national average. Right now, our unemployment rate is at 6.5 percent, and as far as jobless claims in Central Texas, we are seeing a slow and steady decrease, but it's not a reflection of what we're seeing on a national level.

The national economy appears to be getting back on track but here in Texas, our economic trend is moving a little slower than the national average. Why is this the case and what does this mean?

Dr. Robert Tennant, Professor of Economics at A&M Central Texas said it's mainly because of our huge service industry that is going to take some time to bounce back.

"We have a large service industry here and service industry, even without mandates, a lot of people weren't going out for the longest time and doing things in person," said Dr. Tennant.

The return to entertainment and restaurant jobs has been slow, with many folks exploring jobs outside the service industry. Some turning to remote jobs or more skilled work that comes with health insurance.

Charly Ayres, the head of Industry and Education Partnerships with Workforce Solution said it's a rebound that restaurants are still waiting on.

"We find it in foodservice, restaurants, retail, any kind of entertainment venues, hotel accommodation also fits into that. Those are the ones that are really having trouble hiring and then healthcare continues to be a really big job market," said Ayres.

The restaurant and entertainment industries aren't the only ones seeing a shortage.

"Even before the pandemic, healthcare was having trouble finding workers to fill the needs because of the rolling jobs. And that hasn't slowed down at all. We've had a shortage of nurses for probably seven years now. And it just going to be hard to catch up with that just because that, that occupation growing so quickly, here in Central Texas," said Ayres.

Ayres said Workforce has seen a steady flow of jobless claims, that drop little by little each month, but there are still several positions open.

Ayres said, "Folks are getting back to work even though a lot of our employers are still needing help in their businesses. As a matter of fact, currently, we really just have more jobs than we have people. We have seen a slow but steady progress of our unemployment numbers going down, they still course much higher than it was before the pandemic, but they have been dropping each month."

While we aren't keeping up with the national trends when it comes to unemployment claims, there is a bright side.

"We are developing some kind of normal existence around COVID. Even though the Delta variant is causing more cases. The big positive takeaway is that there are really good opportunities available in the state of Texas for employment right now," said Dr. Tennant.

He said it's going to take some time to see a rebound especially with the delta variant dominant across the country and a workforce that is constantly changing.

Right now, there are close to one million jobs open, with over 30,000 employers hiring in the Lone Star State.