HOUSTON - The government's November jobs report showed hiring is slowing much more than expected, but local trends are showing relative improvement.
While there are still more than twice as many people unemployed, in our region, compared to a year ago, there are still some bright spots where jobs are being added.
"We added over 39,000, for the month, which is pretty impressive," says Workforce Solutions chief economist Parker Harvey, who has crunched local jobs numbers for October. While they include a fair amount of seasonal hiring, Harvey says they're still pretty decent.
Of particular note:
Transportation and warehousing jobs have recovered fully from initial COVID-related losses and even added 50%; Leisure and hospitality jobs are strong; Retail jobs are 90% recovered; Healthcare, outside COVID-19 care, is doing well.
Oil and gas jobs, by comparison, are still down 15% since the start of the pandemic.
A massive drop in energy demand and corporate restructuring are to blame, and Parker Harvey doesn't see employment numbers rebounding any time soon. "We're probably not going to get back to that level," he says," Each time we get a peak, we don't recover back to fully where we were before."
Taken together, the Gulf Coast region's unemployment rate dropped almost two points, in October, to 7.7%.
Policies that have allowed many businesses to remain open, have certainly helped, but there are still challenges as nine to ten thousand people, in the region, file new unemployment claims, each week.
"It's plateaued essentially at that level," says Harvey, "What that means is that there's not a lot of extra-hiring going on. You see that in the job-ads. You're not seeing a lot of job-ads, as that part's starting to slow down."
Until there's a widespread vaccine available, that provides some confidence that business can grow, we're likely to see job creation 'tread water' for some time.