Unemployment Claims Swamp Local Offices

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

The lines at the unemployment offices aren't getting any shorter and local agencies are struggling to manage it all.

"It's very very busy in those centers especially in Odessa because of the service industry," Willie Taylor with Workforce Solutions of the Permian Basin, said.

One hundred workers walk through the doors at Workforce Solutions every day filing for unemployment benefits. Right now, Pecos and Reeves Counties have the heftiest unemployment numbers at almost 12% and the staff at those centers are stretched thin.

"We don't have the resources to handle big influxes of claims like this without some type of assistance," Taylor said. "The staff has been overworked and we're doing everything we can to make sure that we're customer friendly in our workforce center."

For many, those benefits have already expired leaving some to switch careers altogether.

"Those individuals that are serious about going back to work, they will take those low end jobs," Taylor said.

There's several West Texas industries looking for workers: everything from health care to retail, truck driving, and distribution centers.

"What we're seeing right now, is our job seekers are still in the area," Taylor said. "What you don't want is to see the job seekers leave the area. We want them to stay in the Permian Basin."

The City of Midland reported a 700-job increase over the year. Industries like health services, education and transportation all added new jobs over the past few months.

Workforce Solutions says they expect to see the overall job market start to pick up again during the last quarter of the year.