Employment Rises Slightly As Businesses Reopen & Workers Return To Their Jobs In May

(HOUSTON) Approximately one out of every five Houstonians who lost their job during the COVID-19 pandemic returned to work in May as the economy slowly reopened following the expiration of some emergency health measures, officials with Workforce Solutions announced today. Unemployment also fell slightly to 13.9 percent from April’s record high.

Most of the 73,800 jobs added last month were in the Leisure and Hospitality sector, said Workforce Solutions economist Parker Harvey, “Hiring, or re-hiring in this case, was almost exclusively in the realm of restaurants and bars, which added 37,400 workers.” That was followed closely by those employed in the health services industry which includes laboratory technicians and nurses working in non-emergency settings such as walk-in clinics and outpatient surgical practices. More than 24,000 jobs were added there.

Retailers also rehired, bringing back more than 11,300 people. But both Manufacturing and the Mining and Logging sectors, heavily dependent on the struggling oil and gas industry, shed a combined 7,200 jobs last month as the glut of cheap oil continued to weigh on the market.

The Texas Workforce Commission announced earlier this week that beginning July 6, Texans receiving unemployment benefits will need to begin looking for work in order to continue receiving their weekly payment. “The good news is employers are still hiring,” said Michelle Castrow, a manager with the regional public workforce development agency. “We have more than 10,000 jobs openings in the Houston-Galveston area alone.”

The TWC requires UI beneficiaries to register in the state-operated job database, www.workintexas.com. The website, which gives users access to more than 530,000 job openings in the state, also keeps track of an individual’s job search activities. “If you don’t have a profile set up, we recommend you do it sooner rather than later,” Castrow said. “Our career office staff can help walk you through the set-up process, if needed, so you can start your job search ahead of the deadline.”

Additional labor market information including the detailed May report can be found at wrksolutions.com/localstats. The Texas Workforce Commission will release employment data for June on July 17, 2020.