Are local jobs vanishing?

November 7, 2008 4:00:05 PM PST
Friday, the Labor Department announced that 240,000 jobs were lost in September, bringing the total to about a million jobs lost since January and pushing the unemployment rate to 6.5 percent. [CHECK THE MARKETS: Get the latest numbers from Wall Street]
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So how many of those 240,000 lost jobs came from companies here in Houston?

Houston isn't immune to the rising unemployment rate and sinking job market. However, experts say we are doing better than the rest of the county. But if you're out of work, finding the right opportunity isn't easy.

Tapping away at a computer, Kimberly Mills is looking for that elusive permanent job.

"I'm 50 years old now," she said. "I'm ready to stop contracting, and earn some benefits, vacation, health benefits."

An accountant by profession, Mills spent the last few years contracting for several large companies. But companies are cutting contractors, so she finds herself at Texas Workforce Solutions. Like many looking for a job, what's available is often different than what you are qualified to do.

"That's what I finished school for," said Mills. "I'm a certified administrative assistant, but I just can't find a job."

While the national jobless rate sits at 6.5 percent for October, Houston is doing a bit better than the rest of the country. In September, the latest month where data was available, Houston had a 5.1 percent unemployment rate, which is lower than the national number, but higher than the 4.3 percent unemployment rate of a year ago.

"We're still doing very well in health services, very well in education, services, and of course, in our oil and gas exploration," said labor market analyst Joel Wagher.

So for those looking for work, the advice is to expand your horizons. And for Mills, it could mean a new career path. She's thinking of becoming a certified dietitian.

"If anybody's hiring, I'm looking for an opportunity," she said.

Experts say there are jobs available. But finding the right one does take some patience.

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