Houston's unemployment rate rises to 8.9% in November

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The latest Texas jobs report shows the unemployment rate is heading in the wrong direction, but experts point to other areas that show the economy is on the rebound.

Looking for work hasn't been easy for some people in southeast Texas.

"I'm not going to lie, I think I have applied, these past six months, to 800 (jobs), even more," Texas resident Luis Barreto said.

Earlier this year, Barreto worked in the oil and gas industry.

Not only is Barreto struggling to find a job, but next week, his unemployment benefits are scheduled to end.

"There's a lot going through my mind," Barreto explained. "There are bills coming. Sometimes it gets kind of desperate."

On Friday, ABC13 got a clear picture on the state of Houston's economy with the latest jobs report.

The state's unemployment rate fell to 8%.

In Houston, the unemployment rate in November increased to 8.9%, from 7.7% in October.

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Workforce Solutions principal economist, Parker Harvey, explained it's not all bad.

"The pace of recovery here is much better than it has been in previous downturns," Harvey said.

In November, the Houston area added nearly 26,000 jobs.

In all, since April, more than half of the jobs have come back.

"We're at about 60% recovery in terms of a rate," Harvey explained. "That's pretty good. We're more than halfway there and it's only been a few months. Put that in perspective. During the Great Recession, it took us about two years to get to 50% of the jobs we lost."

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The industries bringing jobs back are transportation, warehousing, retail, leisure and hospitality and government.

Mining, which includes oil and gas, is down 15% from this spring.

If you're looking for a job, Harvey said employers are hiring, and the state's new job website is a good start.

"Government is definitely seeing a bounce back with the schools slowly returning to normal," Harvey said. "You're seeing jobs come back there. If it makes sense for you, that's definitely an area to look."

Parker said the vaccine will play a role over the next few months with Houston's recovery.

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If the rollout goes well, expect more jobs to be created and the unemployment rate to decline.

"Five, six percent, maybe hanging around there. Maybe a little bit lower, possibly," Parker explained. "It really depends how this goes over the next six or eight months or so. I think we'll have a good idea around the third quarter of 2021."

Another big Houston area industry could also be on the rebound.

The price of oil continues to climb, which could help former employees, including Barreto, get back into the workplace.

"I'm open to whatever comes right now," Barreto said. "I'm open to opportunities. I'm open to a place where I can grow as a professional and definitely as a person."

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