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Will Abbott’s federal unemployment cut help Coastal businesses?

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Posted at 8:21 PM, May 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-18 23:18:47-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It was Monday afternoon when Governor Abbott that the federal unemployment benefits related to the pandemic would end on June 26, 2021. That action would effectively put a stop to the weekly $300 provided to Americans through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program (FPUC), and act as a way to nudge the public to re-enter the labor force.

Xena Mercado, public relations manager for the nonprofit Workforce Solutions of the Coastal Bend, says they have seen the number of people stopping by has doubled in the past six months. She said “The jobs are there.”

In an email, she shares data that states the total number of job openings within the Coastal Bend is 8,024. According to a dashboard by the Texas Workforce Commission — a separate entity — 3,354 are claiming unemployment within the Coastal Bend region.

“The unemployment rate has declined since the beginning of the pandemic,” Mercado said. “Right now it’s hovering around 9.1, but pre-pandemic, it was 4.5 percent.”

Although she can’t speak for the different jobseekers they interact with, Mercado said she hopes the area’s unemployment numbers will continue to decline.

“We hope to see unemployment numbers decline,” she said. “But Workforce is ready to help jobseekers fill all of those job openings as well as help them polish up their resumes we’ve got work for staff ready with programs to help jobseekers upscale, training scholarships and online learning.”

To people like long-time small business owner Ray Arnold of A’s Cleaners, he is still having difficulty retaining staff.

“I don’t have any cash bonus incentives, but we have increased our pay scale,” he said. “Our entry level is $8.50 an hour, you come to work every day and on time for two weeks, I’ll bring it to $9. And then the advance from $9.50 to $10 in the first year and I’ve got people making $15 an hour.”

Arnold is still looking to hire five more employees for his business. He has also had challenges obtaining materials like hangers and paper goods during the pandemic, but still, he’s made it a point to not increase his prices.

He hopes the Governor’s decision might lead him on a path to up his staffing numbers.

“I really believe it will and I certainly hope so,” Arnold said. “I’m just one little press shop on Staples Street in corpus, the whole state is suffering — everywhere you go in every business you go in.”

Mercado said the Phil Roy Corporation in Sinton is hiring maintenance workers and a maintenance supervisor. The city of Alice is hiring water treatment operators, the Nueces County and Kleberg County Sheriff are also hoping to fill positions.

“I would start a career coach,” she said. “They can take an assessment they are to find out what kind of job they’re looking for and they can look for programs in the area if they’re seeking to upscale.”

The top ten occupations with the most job openings in the Coastal Bend are as follows.

  1. Registered Nurses – 640 Openings
  2. Retail Salesperson – 239 Openings
  3. Customer Services Representatives – 182 Openings
  4. Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses – 124 Openings
  5. Nursing Assistants -111 Openings
  6. First-Line Supervisors of Retail Sales Workers – 97 Openings
  7. First-Line Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers – 95 Openings
  8. Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers – 93 Openings
  9. Janitors and Cleaners, Except Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners – 91 Openings
  10. Personal Care Aides – 88 Openings

More information can be found on their website.