The region remained in a state of full employment for the month of May as local unemployment rates stayed below 4 percent, the Texas Workforce Commission said Friday in its monthly unemployment report. This month’s update saw unemployment remain at 3.7 percent, unchanged from the previous month.
This comes one month after local unemployment dropped by half a percentage point, marking the largest change in unemployment in more than a year. Since then, the rate has remained unchanged, and area employers are still hiring, area economic developers said Friday.
“They are still seeking to hire — that is the main point we can put across to the public,” Workforce Solutions Texoma Deputy Director Marsha Lindsey said. Lindsey said the lack of viable candidates includes all local industries and all levels of employment but seemed to hit entry-level positions the hardest.
With local unemployment remaining at or below 4 percent for nearly a year, some area employers are struggling to fill vacancies with a diminished pool of candidates to choose from. This has lead to the local job market favoring the job seeker, who has plenty of options to choose from for employment.
Lindsay described the market at 4 percent or less unemployment as being fully employed, when nearly all those who are actively seeking employment have found it.
“It basically means most people can regain employment quickly if they lose a job,” she said, noting it can be difficult for employers.
Sherman Economic Development Corp. Executive Vice President Frank Gadek said it is difficult to give additional comment on the market beyond what has been said in the past. As the market has remained at low unemployment for more than a year, little has changed beyond small jumps in the rates.
“It’s just no change, and that’s where we’ve been for several months,” he said.
When asked about plans to help the employers find candidates, Gadek said SEDCO and other partners have held job fairs in recent months to help promote local industries. Currently, plans are to continue with these fairs throughout the year, he said.
“Unless there is a major ramping up in hiring … I think the plan is to hold those periodically,” he said.
Despite the impact on employers, William Myers, vice president of the Denison Development Alliance, said this is ultimately a good thing for the local economy.
“At some point, the unemployment will change, but I think it is very good for the economy,” he said. “It may be harder for our employers, but it is a sign of a booming economy.”
As employers have competed for a small pool of candidates, Myers said some have increased their wages in order to gain an edge when recruiting. This ultimately leads to more money in the economy and local businesses, he said.
When asked about steps to bring additional candidates into the market, Myers said area developers are working to train local workers for the jobs that are available in advanced manufacturing, health care and other industries. As an example, Myers said, a new advanced manufacturing lab at Grayson College is expected to open within a year and offer industrial training courses to high school students across the region. Through these programs, the region can help meet the needs of local industries from within.
Local unemployment remained below the state and national averages of 4.4 percent and 4.1 percent.