Houston's unemployment rate declines, experts caution it may not last

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The reopening of Texas put more people back to work, but experts caution the job market is still uncertain.

As coronavirus cases surge in the Houston area, the summertime isn't making it any easier for those looking for work.

"It's rough," Walter Bibbins said. "Hopefully things will go back to normal so we can all go back to work."

A new jobs report shows Texans are going back to work. While the nationwide unemployment fell to eleven percent, the Houston area dropped into the single digits.

"The only thing I could chalk it up to is the fact Texas started reopening earlier than the rest of the country," Workforce Solutions principal economist Parker Harvey explained. "That's the only thing I can think of."

New numbers released Friday show the Houston area unemployment rate fell to 9.9 percent. In all, 55,000 jobs were created in June.

Leisure and hospitality services, professional and business services, as well as the transportation industry saw historic gains.

While mining, which includes oil and gas, and government jobs continued to fall.

Some areas saw bigger improvements than others. Galveston County saw the biggest monthly drop going from 15 percent to 10 percent unemployment.

June beat expectations, but experts caution another shutdown or longer surge in cases could leave lasting effects.

"Imagine a tsunami hitting a ship in the ocean. It's still rocking back and forth," Harvey explained. "It hasn't flipped over, but we're waiting for it to stop bobbing around and finally stabilize to get a sense as to how much damage has been done."

Parker said the state closing bars, and limiting restaurant capacity could impact July's numbers.

But there's another reason why more Texans might head back to work soon. The federal unemployment benefit of an extra $600 ends in Texas next week.

For those looking for a job, or wanting to explore a new career, the federal government released a new tool, which you can see here.

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