Despite Houston's massive job growth in November, child care is still holding parents back

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The latest Texas jobs report shows Houston's economy is on the rebound, but lags behind other parts of the state, and employers hope a new child care program will change this.

DESPITE JOB GAINS, EMPLOYERS STILL STRUGGLING TO FILL OPENINGS

The state jobs report in Texas showed the state added about 75,000 jobs, about 33,000 came from the Houston area.

In all, Texas has about 13 million people employed, which is the highest ever. However, southeast Texas still lags from the rest of the state.

The Houston area is about 100,000 jobs short of reaching pre-pandemic figures. The labor gap can be felt at Nature Best Pre-Cut & Produce in Missouri City.

"We are hiring for dayshift workers, nightshift workers," said Luis Hyman, the human resources director at Nature Best. "I mean, we have all types of positions open."

CHILD CARE IS A REASON WHY SOME PARENTS AREN'T ABLE TO RETURN TO WORK

A recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce study took a look at child care in Texas. It discovered Texans pay on average of $611 a month for child care. This significantly impacts 30% of parents.

During the pandemic, more than half of parents changed child care. The study found Texas loses $1.8 billion a year in taxes because of child care issues. This impacts one parent more than another. For parents who quit their job because of child care in the next year, the study found 38% of them would be women compared to 30% of men.

In an effort to help, Workforce Solutions is offering a new service industry recovery scholarship. Hospitality workers can get childcare covered for a year.

"That really helps us with working families," Hyman said.

HOUSTON AREA EXPERIENCES MASSIVE JOB GROWTH IN NOVEMBER

A lot Houstonians have found jobs lately. About 33,100 people found work in the Houstonian area in November, many of them were temporary jobs, but economists are encouraged.

"What was surprising though was the 4,300 jobs in upstream oil and gas that we got," said Parker Harvey, a principal economist with Workforce Solutions. "That makes it the single largest month growth on record."

Industries that experienced growth in November include trade, transportation and utilities, mining and logging, and education.

Professional and businesses services, and construction lost jobs. Over the past year, professional and businesses services has gained the most jobs. Trade, transportation and utilities, and leisure and hospitality have gained jobs as well.

"Unfortunately, other parts related to oil and gas, manufacturing still has a long way to go," Harvey said. "Construction certainly does, but it's definitely encouraging to see our key industry in essence is starting to turn a corner."

The Houston area needs about 100,000 jobs to reach pre-pandemic numbers. Economists believe it could happen by next year.

The good news is economists say it's an employee market, and they expect wages to rise next year. Between higher pay, and childcare programs, it could cut down the number of openings.

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