The positive trend of job growth continues in Houston and across Texas, even with a massive amount of openings unfilled. That is the takeaway from the latest Houston employment report from Workforce Solutions. "In the Houston area, unemployment fell to 7.1 percent in the month of April," says Michelle Castrow, manager with Workforce Solutions. "That's down almost a full point from 8 percent in March."
"Houston area businesses added 18,700 jobs last month, and most of that came from leisure and hospitality, and from professional and business services," says Castrow.
While the numbers represent a positive trend, Houston still has a way to go to make up for last year's massive job losses. "We have regained about half of all the jobs lost in March and April 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic," says Castrow. "So Houston is moving in the right direction."
The statewide numbers show a similar trend. The Texas Workforce Commission reports the state added 13,000 non-farm jobs in April, while the unemployment rate ticked down two tenths of a point to 6.7 percent.
Still, the numbers could be much better if employers could find enough qualified workers to fill all of the current openings. Texas and several other states are ending extra unemployment benefits to help fill the glut of openings, as many people have been able to make more money on unemployment than with a job. "I just checked the job master board that we use at Workforce Solutions, and there were 70,000-plus openings in Harris County alone," says Castrow.
Overall, the local jobs picture is a positive one. "We have seen positive movement for the last several months," she adds. "We're not back to pre-pandemic levels yet, but we are moving in the right direction."