Local Concern Grows Over Duration and Effects of High Unemployment

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

ECTOR COUNTY--The last time unemployment was this high was during the oil bust in the 1980's.  Ector County is at 9.1% and three others are already over 10%.  The fact that it happened again, wasn't a surprise to some.  The question is, where do we go from here?

"We anticipated that Odessa was going to go from 7.8 to over 8 percent.  When it came out at 9.1, I don't think it was a shock," Willie Taylor, with Workforce Solutions of the Permian Basin, said. He added, it's going to take some stability in the local economy to bring things back to normal.  "Until we see the price of oil go up and stablize at a place, some are saying 70, 75, 80 bucks, it's got to stablize.  Then we'll see more activity out there, as far as service companies hiring back."

The federal minimum wage is set to go up later this week.  That could have a serious impact on small businesses.  "Now, we're in a full blown recession in the area.  Any kind of increase will hurt the bottom line. Instead of using 25-30, they may have to lay off a couple of individuals to meet that minimum wage requirement," Taylor explained.

With less people working, they are having to find other ways to supplement their income.  But as NewsWest 9 found out, unemployment isn't having an effect on crime.

"Criminals are criminals, whether you have a good economy or a bad economy.  That was a career for them whether this economy was good or not.  As this economy continues to go bad, you're still going to see that, anyway," Cpl. Sherrie Carruth with the Odessa Police Department said.

Carruth says, they saw more crime before the economy took it's downward slide, "More people had more money,  so they were buying more things and that's what these crooks are looking for."
Economists are predicting things will start improving toward the end of this year.  Taylor spoke of what we have to look forward to until then, "The longer this goes on, the more difficult it's going to be to get a job, because you're going to be out there with thousand's of other individuals who are looking for jobs."

If you're currently on unemployment, Workforce Solutions recommends looking into upgrading your job skills.   They offer re-training programs that can help you get another job.   Even if it's not what you would normally do, it's a lot better than not having a job at all.