The local unemployment rate saw a slight increase in November, just one month after it reached its lowest levels in modern history, the Texas Workforce Commission said Friday in its monthly jobs report. This month’s update saw the local unemployment rate climb to 3.1 percent, but it remained within what is considered full employment for a population, local officials said.
Despite the increase, area economic developers said this was likely just a part of the natural flow of the market and did not represent a major change in the market.
“You are going to see workforce numbers ebb and flow naturally, but we still are at full employment,” Workforce Solutions Texoma Executive Director Janie Bates said Friday.
The report by the TWC found that the number of unemployed individuals in the region rose by about 200, while the overall size of the workforce rose from 60,800 to 61,400.
Bates described full employment as the point where the vast majority of job seekers have found employment, adding that the region has been at this point for several months now. While this has made it a job seekers market, Bates said it has made it difficult for employers who are competing with a shrinking market.
For the winter months, businesses outside of the retail and service industries typically are not in a hiring rush, Bates said. However, with the limited job pool and vacancies that abound, many manufacturers are hiring at above-average levels, she said.
Among the employers in the area, Bates said she has seen some raising the wages of their employees in an effort to both recruit and retain workers.
Denison Development Alliance President Tony Kaai concurred with Bates’ comments regarding the full employment and the slight change in unemployment numbers over the past month.
“Just that fact that we have been hovering at about 3 percent for the past few years makes me believe that this is not significant,” Denison Development Alliance President Tony Kaai said Friday.
Kaai said the situation has remained mostly unchanged over the past several months. However, the announcement of Finisar purchasing the former MEMC building on Sherman’s south side with plans to start production of tech components will change the situation significantly, he said.
With the location expected to bring in 500 jobs, Kaai said he expects this to make the already tight labor pool that much smaller and it could in turn lead to Finisar recruiting workers from other area manufacturers. That could force the other area manufacturers to broaden their search for workers.
Sherman Economic Development Corp. President John Plotnik said he plans to start expanding the reach of Sherman’s recruiting in January as SEDCO starts a nationwide advertising campaign. Through this, Plotnik said he hopes to get across the message that there are ample jobs in Texoma and take advantage of recent migrations to the region.
“If you are welding boilers in Michigan in February and lose your job, you aren’t going to find another job,” he said. “But we have jobs here in Sherman, Texas.”
Bates noted that she expects there to be a slight uptick in unemployment when January’s numbers are released due to the seasonal nature of many holiday retail and service jobs. However, this is not expected to have a major impact on the market, she said.
“I think with anyone who has held down a job throughout the year, we can help find you a job,” she said.
The local unemployment rate remained below the state and national rates of 3.7 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively.
“Private sector employers added 52,000 jobs in November and have accounted for the addition of 294,600 positions in Texas over the past year,” TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs said. “I am encouraged by the growth across a variety of industries and commend our employers for their investment in our Texas workforce.”