Grayson County unemployment numbers fell below six percent in July. The latest numbers, which were released by the Texas Workforce Commission on Friday, show continued improvement in the unemployment rate for the Sherman-Denison area after they reached double digits during the spring


The unemployment rate reached a high of 10.6 percent in April as many businesses and employers shut their doors or reduced production amid the pandemic. However, since then, there has been steadily improvement with July numbers showing 5.9 percent unemployment, workforce officials said.


"Right now, we have 1,200 jobs listed in our system, so there are jobs out there" Workforce Solutions Texoma Executive Director Janie Bates said. "Jobs are continuing to reopen, and things are improving.


"I really think things are improving and you are starting to see more ’Now Hiring’ signs out in front of more businesses."


The unemployment numbers for Sherman-Denison remain well below the state and national averages. And while both numbers saw improvement in July, the state and national averages of 8.2 percent and 10.5 percent, respectively, are well above where they were one year ago.


"This month’s unemployment numbers make it clear, Texas employers are hiring," TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Aaron Demerson said. "As our employers put Texans back to work, my office will continue to provide valuable information through our virtual town hall meetings and email newsletters to help our Texas employers navigate these uncertain times."


Bates said she could not attribute the improvements to one single industry that has been hiring, but said retail and restaurants have shown a resurgence while others remained strong throughout.


"Obviously as restaurants have opened up and retail has opened up, you have seen people going back there," Bates said. "However, our manufacturers seem to be doing well at this point too and we are not seeing any big layoffs."


Bates believes that some workers are returning after a $600 bonus in unemployment assistance from the federal government ended in late July. This additional income, which equated to $15 an hour, potentially kept some people from seeking employment immediately.


In other cases, there is a lingering worry about the public health crisis that has kept some from rejoining the workforce.


"I do think there are a certain number of people who are fearful and not ready to return to work," Bates said.


Despite the good news on the unemployment side, the workforce was down about 900 people compared to where it was one year prior.


Bates attributed this to a number of factors including those who have timed out from being considered a part of the active work force to those who are still waiting to return.


"Some people took the opportunity to retire at the beginning of COVID," Bates said. "... All of those things can cause the numbers in the workforce to shift."


Expect this trend to continue. While a 3 percent unemployment is not likely in the foreseeable future, Bates said it would be healthy to have unemployment near 4 percent.


"There has been a huge improvement in only a couple months and I think if we can get down to 4 percent I think that is a sign of a healthy economy."


Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com.