Local unemployment numbers remained mostly steady for the month of December as the region remained in a state of full employment. In its monthly unemployment report from December, which was released Friday, the Texas Workforce Commission said the Sherman-Denison area saw unemployment rise from 3.4 percent to 3.6 percent.
In November, the region recorded its lowest unemployment numbers in nearly 15 years when the unemployment rate dropped to 3.4 percent.
“We may see a flux of one-tenth of a point to two-tenths of a percent … but I don’t expect to see anything change for a while,” Workforce Solutions Texoma Executive Director Janie Bates said Friday.
Bates said it is not uncommon to see December as a flat month for unemployment as many employers slow down hiring near the holidays only to ramp up recruitment early in the new year. Bates also noted that the numbers released by the commission are not seasonally adjusted and will likely see some fluctuations early in 2017 as seasonal, holiday-related jobs come to an end.
Denison Development President Tony Kaai described the current job market in Texoma as full employment where there are more jobs on the market than seekers. This can make it difficult for employers to draw new recruits for these positions.
“The positive is we continue to have low unemployment and that’s always a plus for the job seeker,” he said.
Kaai said the current low unemployment rate is likely a part of a cycle that will eventually even out. As the region continues to grow with new homes and migration, Kaai said these rates will be balanced over time.
As a recruitment tactic, Bates said some employers have considered increasing the entry-level wage or benefit for employees to help stand out against other employers. While this ultimately will be a boon for job seekers, Bates said it does come with the side effect of raising an employer’s cost to do business.
Another tactic that employers have used is to instead focus resources on keeping the employees they have. This includes investing in additional training, benefits and other perks to raise retention and encourage employees to stay.
“It is expensive to hire new people and training them is expensive … so they are looking to keep people long term,” she said.
On Thursday, workforce stakeholders for both Sherman and Denison came together to host a job fair focused on the region’s contact and call center employers. Frank Gadek, executive vice president for the Sherman Economic Development Corp., said about 300 job seekers attended the event where eight local employers were looking to fill around 200 positions.
“There were quite a few people there when I came by,” Gadek said.
Kaai said first indications show that the event was a success with reports of some employers hiring on the spot for some positions.
Texoma’s unemployment rate remained well below both the statewide and national unemployment averages of 4.6 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively. In 2016, Texas created a total of 210,200 seasonally-adjusted jobs.
“Thanks to the innovation and efforts of employers in a range of industries, Texas workers continue to have more opportunities to demonstrate their world-class work ethic and skills,” TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar said.