For the second straight month, Texas added jobs after three months of skyrocketing unemployment due to the pandemic and its derivative government-mandated closures.
In July, 31,000 jobs were added, and the unemployment rate dropped 0.6 percent to 8 percent. That is still below the national average of 10.5 percent.
The private sector lost 12,300 jobs, likely due to the reclosures from Governor Abbott at the tail end of June. The Leisure and Hospitality sector lost 21,000 jobs after gaining 142,000 the previous month, measured before the reclosures really took effect.
At the same time, the government sector added 43,700 jobs in July.
This can be partially attributed to the slight recovery of commerce after the abrupt halt, causing sales tax revenues to plummet. This caused the Texas Comptroller’s Office to readjust its projections, now estimating a $4.6 billion budget shortfall after the hit to tax revenues.
But when it all-but-bottoms out, there’s not much room to go but up and governments rely heavily on sales taxes and other tax revenues to pay for their workforce.
“July’s unemployment numbers continue to show the underlying strength of Texans and our economy,” said Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Chairman Bryan Daniel. “TWC remains committed to our goal of creating skills enhancement and career opportunities for Texans to continue to keep Texas as the top state to live and work.”
The two regions suffering most from prolonged employment struggles are the oil and gas-reliant Odessa, at 12.6 percent unemployment, and Beaumont-Port Arthur, at 11.9 percent unemployment.
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, in the Rio Grande Valley, also has a high unemployment rate relative to other regions, at 12.5 percent.
Texas’ oil and gas industry has been reeling since the pandemic caused travel to evaporate almost overnight, paired with the global supply glut exacerbated by an Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries production fight.
However, natural gas prices have risen sharply of late as the hot summer has caused electricity bills to jump. But speculators and producers are divided on whether this will continue or taper off. Oil has also recovered from its historic plunge in April to just above $40 per barrel.
The Mining and Logging industry lost 1,200 jobs while Construction lost 6,300 and Manufacturing dropped 4,600.
Last month, President Trump visited the Permian Basin in an effort to highlight the importance of the oil and gas industry not only to Texas but to the country.
The July 2019 unemployment rate was 3.8 percent, less than half July 2020’s.
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Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad watching and quoting Monty Python productions.