Unemployment is down in Texas, but workers are not returning to the restaurant business. Texas Workforce Solutions says many have changed course or started over.
BELL COUNTY, Texas – Texas ended its participation in the federal pandemic unemployment benefits program on June 26, 2021.
Many business owners were hopeful that people would come back to work because many restaurants and others in the restaurant industry cannot find the help they need.
Texas Workforce Solutions told 6 News on Thursday that many workers would not return to those jobs.
The reason is that many people now have better paying jobs that they will not leave.
Texas Workforce Solutions director of industry and education partnerships Charley Ayres said unemployment in Texas had fallen from over 11% to less than 6%. Texas unemployment fell from 9.3% in January to 5.9% in August, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Ayres told 6 News people aren’t going back to food service now, however, because they have better jobs.
“Even during the pandemic, the economy thrived,” Ayres said. “Sales tax revenue has increased. Housing starts have gone up. The population continued to grow. There are literally more jobs than there are people.
How does it work in the event of a pandemic?
While people may not have gone to the restaurant, Ayres said grocery stores have actually increased their workforce to use new curbside delivery services, personal shopping options, and other jobs that would require more staff.
“Now all of a sudden the workforce has increased in grocery stores because when you walk into the grocery store… you see rows of personal customers. These are store clerks who may have been a grocery store clerk but are now personal customers. broadened the employment base.
Even those who haven’t worked for a specific store can make money working with DoorDash, Waitr, Uber Eats, or other companies. Many fast food restaurants are also delivering now and need drivers to do that as well.
Central Texas also sees other high paying jobs. Ayres said people have taken advantage of online resources to learn skills in information technology, website design, cybersecurity and similar fields. Ayres said IT is growing faster than anything else.
“The fastest growing industry in central Texas is professional, scientific and technical services. We’re seeing strong growth in information technology, cybersecurity and almost everything web development, ”Ayres said.
The other fast-growing industry continues to be healthcare, although Ayres said it is also growing as quickly as possible.
Catering establishments could still, in theory, get more help when students leave school, but Ayres said even these students are able to get higher-paying technical jobs due to growing numbers. certification programs available in public schools. Ayres said the gap between high school and employment is now shorter than ever.
“All of our school districts now, despite some of the changes that have been developed in recent years due to the legislature, they offer industry certifications in high schools,” Ayres said. “Certified medical assistant, certified nurse’s aide. Career training opportunities in our schools would make most people dizzy … It’s not like when you and I were in high school. “
While the new opportunities are a positive step for local students and other Central Texans in need of employment, a highly skilled workforce wants to be paid high wages. Local restaurants and other businesses that need reliable workers will no longer be able to get people to work so easily. Ayres said many such companies have now dramatically increased their wages and those that don’t will face a tough lesson.
“Every now and then we’ll run into someone who says they have a hard time hiring people. Then we start to find out they’re paying $ 7.25 an hour and it’s like, ‘We can kind of tell you where your problem is, ”Ayres says. “You have to have a better idea of what the job market is like.”
Ayres said companies that can’t afford to pay people around $ 13 or more will have to make up the difference by offering more flexible hours or part-time work when people need it. Ayres said the market will eventually balance out, but it could take another 12 months when workers are plentiful again.
“Right now the ball is in the court of job seekers. But we have had years where the ball was in the employer’s court. There is always an ebb and flow.”
Learn more about Central Texas Workforce Solutions here.