Howard County Unemployment Rate Higher Than Surrounding Counties - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

Howard County Unemployment Rate Higher Than Surrounding Counties

By Sylvia Gonzalez
NewsWest 9

These days help wanted signs are a common sight across the Basin.

In fact, Midland-Odessa has the lowest unemployment numbers in the state. Currently Ector County has a 4.9 unemployment rate, Midland County has a 4.2 unemployment rate, which is significantly lower than the 7.2 rate of Howard County.

However, the lower the rate doesn't always bring a positive outcome. 

"You really don't have much of what we call a labor pool and so you have to go outside to bring that pool in and quite naturally some if the issues that we have is the housing market and Howard County is having the same issue," Willie Taylor, Chief Executive Officer at Workforce Solutions of the Permian Basin, said.

Taylor says once school starts, the unemployment numbers should change.

"Head start workers that are probably on a 10 month contract, some of the folks that work for the school district they are probably drawing some unemployment benefits. Once they return, you will probably see a little dip in the unemployment figures by September or October sometime," Taylor said. 

Taylor says that even though the unemployment rate in Howard County is at a 7.2, there is nothing we should worry about.

"You know 7.2 is a not a negative thing our full employment is five percent and so really that community, I would say they've got enough workers over there that they can deal with," Taylor said.

He says that even though Howard County is diversified in the types of jobs that are available, it still can't compete with the oil and gas industry.

"When you look at Howard County, you have the VA Hospital, you have the prison system over there, you have Howard College. Those are some of your largest employers over there, they're not necessarily driven by your oil and gas industry," Taylor said. 

Not being driven by the gas and oil industry might soon change in Howard County, which will impact the unemployment rate.

"It's my understanding that there is definitely gas being looked at over there in those fields. Once that takes off, I think you would probably see a little slight dip in the unemployment over there," Taylor said.

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