The Sherman-Denison area remained in a state of full employment for the month of June as area unemployment rates hovered just below 4 percent, the Texas Workforce Commission said Friday in its monthly unemployment report. This month’s update saw the unemployment rise slightly from 3.7 percent last month to 3.9 percent.
Marsha Lindsey, deputy director for Workforce Solutions Texoma, said the persistent, low unemployment rate means the region is still in a state of full employment where open positions outnumber those actively seeking jobs.
“It effectively means anyone who wants a job should easily be able to easily find one because our local employers are actively hiring,” she said.
When asked if the increase in unemployment was related to a trend or change in the market, Lindsey said she felt it was likely just a natural fluctuation in the job market. Despite being up slightly, Lindsey said the unemployment rate has remained below the 4.3 percent unemployment recorded in January. In April, the region saw a large shift in unemployment when the rate dropped by half a percentage point.
Since January, Lindsey said the local job market has added 911 jobs, but she was uncertain what sectors and businesses these jobs were in. However, she said she believes there are not temporary seasonal jobs due to the timing. Typically seasonal occur in the summer and during the holidays, but this trend has remained steady across multiple seasons, she said.
As the region has remained at full employment for over a year, Lindsey said many industries have had to use new strategies and tactics in recruitment. As an example of this, Lindsey said TWS has had conversations with stakeholders about the possibility of apprenticeship programs.
While apprenticeships have traditionally been used in construction and related trades, Lindsey said these apprenticeships would cross multiple fields and industries.
“They are trying to think outside the box what they can do to grow their workforce,” she said.
Denison Development Alliance President Tony Kaai said the employers have been trying to ramp up recruitment using training, like the apprenticeship programs, and advertising on radio and television.
Kaai said Ruiz Foods, a Denison-based industrial employer, recently announced the recruitment of 60 new positions.
“They (the industries) are doing everything they can to recruit,” he said. “We hear that employers are raising their wages and benefits as well.”
Kaai said the key to creating an adequate candidate pool is to help train locally and to have adequate housing so trained workers can migrate to the region. Kaai referenced the recent ground breaking of a new advanced manufacturing lab at Grayson College, as an example of such training programs. Kaai also said the city of Denison is poised to break its record for single-family building permits, which was set in 2016.
When asked about recruiting efforts for bring in skilled workers to the region, John Plotnik, president of the Sherman Economic Development Corp., said the city is preparing to go on a national advertisement campaign. Plotnik said it is estimated that about 1,500 people migrate to Texas each day, and it would benefit the region if the city could pull from those migrants.
With regard to local training, Plotnik said SEDCO is working on a program to put teachers in local industries so that they are equipped to share with their students information about locally-available jobs.
“How can a teacher tell a student there are more options unless they have seen it themselves?” he said.
For the month of June, the local unemployment remained below both the U.S. and Texas unemployment rates of 4.5 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively.