Published Jan 27, 2021 by Peter Beard
The Houston area has regained a significant amount of the jobs it lost since last March, but recovery has been uneven between economic sectors and full recovery may not be achieved for several more years. This is according to the December 2020 regional labor market data and information report, released January 22, 2021. Employment gains and continuing losses have acute implications for workers, job-seekers and workforce development initiatives in the region.
By December 2020, the Houston area had recovered roughly 60 percent of the 350,000 jobs lost over the preceding March and April, according to Parker Harvey, an economist with the regional workforce development agency. This rate of recovery remains impressive compared to previous downturns where a return to pre-recession employment levels took three to four years. Nonetheless, given the ongoing effects of the pandemic for the foreseeable future, the current recovery rate is likely to improve only moderately with each new jobs report making for a full recovery in three to five years according to various predictions. (Related: December ’20 Monthly Update: Houston Metro Employment)
The report also provides information for the region’s overall employment as well as an industry-by-industry look at what has changed since December 2019 and December 2020, including the over-the-year changes in the Houston Metropolitan Statistical Area’s industry supersectors (aggregates of related sectors). Currently 10 out of 11 supersectors show year-over-year declines in employment of which the top three are leisure and hospitality (-36,300), construction (-24,500) and manufacturing (-21,800).
In addition, Harvey provided the following overall analysis of the data:
Given the declines in 10 out of 11 supersectors, it is clear that coming into the new year one of the region’s more important challenges will be upskilling and redeploying the more than 150,000 residents who remain without jobs due to the pandemic and the economic recession. This will require us to focus on upskilling these displaced workers into new occupations and to earn a living wage. We expect the skills requirements for many occupations will have changed in light of the pandemic and the increased use of technology. As many of us know, the longer individuals remain unemployed their skills will atrophy, and it will be harder to connect them to the services and skills programs they will need.
Over the next few months, the leadership of the Partnership and its UpSkill Houston initiative will be working with key business leaders, employers, community colleges, community-based organizations, and the public workforce system to address this challenge in order to support a stronger economic recovery for the region.
Learn more about the UpSkill Houston initiative.