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Unemployment rates slowly dropping

Midland currently sits at a 4.5% unemployment rate, while Odessa is at 6.3%, numbers that were nearly double this time last year.

MIDLAND, Texas — More people got back to work in 2021. After nearly two years of the pandemic, unemployment rates in the Midland-Odessa area are starting to get closer to pre-pandemic levels.

The Midland unemployment rate for November 2021 sits at 4.5 percent. In Odessa, that number is at 6.3 percent, and both are close to the state average of about 5.2 percent.

This time last year, the unemployment rates in Midland and Odessa were at 8 percent and 11.5 percent respectively.

However, the workforce still isn't as big as it was pre-pandemic. That still remains a work-in-progress. It's something that Willie Taylor, CEO of Workforce Solutions Permian Basin, believes will take more time.

"It’s been a gradual process. It’s a slow process. You know people are not returning to work as quickly as we thought they would, but we’re seeing some consistency. Less people applying for UI benefits, which is a good thing," Taylor said.

There have been a few shifts in the workforce. Companies are having to think outside the box in order to fill open positions.

Companies are looking not just in the Permian Basin for employees but also out of the area such as in El Paso.

As for those who are looking for a job, a lot are looking to make a career change.

"We see people wanting to go into the medical area, in those areas. We see people wanting to go into the automotive welding side of it. So we see those folks are going back to those type of areas where it’s quick training and yielding high wages," Taylor said.

If you're struggling to fill a job or find a job, Taylor said not to worry because he believes that brighter days are ahead.

"I just think everybody needs to be patient. We’re trending in the right direction, and things are looking great for our region. It’s trending down, and I think there’s no doubt that we’re heading in the right direction," Taylor said.