The Sherman-Denison job market is showing some signs of improvement after the unemployment rate doubled in April amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Texas Workforce Commission released its unemployment numbers for the month of May on Friday, which showed a 0.6 percent decrease in unemployment in the Sherman-Denison area.
"Texas businesses are opening their doors, taking precautions and working around the clock to serve all Texans," TWC Commissioner Aaron Demerson said. "TWC and our partners are as committed as ever to providing relevant and useful information to all employers across the state."
In April, the area unemployment reached a modern day high when it hit 10.3 percent for the area, putting it in double digits for the first time in years. However, May’s report saw unemployment drop back into single digits with 9.7 percent.
This puts Sherman head of both state and national averages. For May, the United States saw a 1.4 percent decrease in unemployment, bringing it to 13 percent. Meanwhile, Texas saw a modest, 0.4 pecent improvement, and came in at 12.7 percent.
Workforce Solutions Texoma Executive Director Janie Bates said she expected improvement in the market and was pleasantly surprised to see the numbers creeping back down into the single digits.
"I am very excited to see it going down," she said. "We can tell by the number of phonecalls that we are getting and the number of claims we are getting that the numbers should be falling."
For the month of May, the hospitality and leisure industries saw the strongest growth with 176,400 jobs created. Locally, a large part of the improvement has been seen in the retail and restaurant sectors, Bates said.
"They were totally closed, so now that they are hiring again, it certainly made an impression on the numbers," she said.
Bates also highlighted the construction industry as another high point for May.
"There for a while if you couldn’t go into someone’s house, even if there was a need for construction, you couldn’t do work," she said.
Denison Development Alliance President Tony Kaai said he has also seen improvement, with a high focus on food and beverage.
"If anyone can operate at 75 percent, that is pretty good because how often do you go into a restaurant and they are completely full," he said, referring to limitations on capacity currently in place.
Elsewhere, Kaai said area employers are still recovering from the effects of the pandemic. As of two weeks ago, Ruiz Foods was operating with about 800 employees, with demand for about 1,200, due to the pandemic.
"You can only do what you can do with the workforce you can get," he said."
Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.