Secrets of the Job Hunt


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Houston Job Forecast 2008

Texas's unemployment rate rose slightly in the month of November, going from 4.1 percent to 4.2. As is often the case, jobs growth slowed due to coming holiday season. Despite this Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Chairperson Diane Rath says that "job growth in Texas continues to outpace the nation." She went on to say that "the solid economic foundation laid in Texas over recent years is serving employers and workers well."

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' data supports Rath's statement, showing that the 12,300 Texas jobs created was the largest monthly gain in employment throughout the nation. During 2007, the state added 204,4000 jobs, making it first place in the country for job growth. Florida came in at second place with 90,200 jobs added for the year.

Houston had the largest job growth statewide for the month of November, according to the TWC. During the month 12,300 nonagricultural Houston jobs were created. The industries that experienced the largest gains included trade, transportation, utilities, government, education, and health services.

Although the city posted the highest job gains in the state, Houston's unemployment rate also rose in November, from 3.8 percent to 4 percent. According to TWC figures, the current jobless rate shows some improvement when compared to the 4.3 percent of November 2006.

When analyzed, Novembers data showed that there were a smaller number of Houston jobs created in retail than is normal for the city. Joel Wagher, labor market analyst for The WorkSource, says that it's possible that retailers hired fewer new employees due to the increase of individuals using the internet to make holiday purchases. Between October and November, retailers added only 6,500 Houston jobs, which is the least created for the holiday shopping season since 2000.

The convenience of online shopping is not the only factor that effected Houston job growth in November, Wagher said. He also believes that the popularity of gift cards, an easy sell item, has decreased the need of extra staff for the holiday season. He went on to say that high gas prices and the increased minimum wage could also have contributed to retailers decision to keep hiring modest.

Another industry that failed to create Houston jobs in November was manufacturing. Wagher blamed the housing crisis, which has lowed the need of Houston-made wood products along with other building materials, for the industries zero percent job growth over the past year. According to him, this is the first year, since 2004, that the city hasn't had over-the-year job growth in this industry.

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