Jobs could come back in Baytown after industry rebound

BAYTOWN, Texas (KTRK) -- Nearly one in four working-aged persons is out of a job in Baytown, but local leaders believe help could be on the horizon.

If you drive around Baytown, you can find some signs with the words, "Now hiring." But for those without a job, it's not that simple to get it.

"I was working as a helper in a plant," Walter Bibbins, a Baytown resident said. "It helped pay the bills."

Three months later, Bibbins still isn't working. He's not alone as more people are unemployed in Baytown than any other community in the Gulf Coast Region.

"It's rough," Bibbins said. "Hopefully, everything will get back to normal. Hopefully, this thing will be cleared so we can go back to work."

The unemployment rate in Baytown was 24 percent in May, which is 10 percent higher than the Houston area. In May, Workforce Solutions said the region added more than 70,000 jobs.

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But in Baytown, it was one of only two cities in the area that saw its unemployment rate continue to increase. Baytown West Chambers County associate executive director, B.J. Simon tells ABC13, the declining oil industry is a big reason for the high unemployment.

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It's not just jobs at plants, but construction jobs tied to the oil industry were lost. Simon said the city recently tweaked older grant programs to help small businesses.

Good news could be on the horizon, however, the price of oil is climbing, and Simon said more permits have been issued this month.

This is exactly what Bibbins likes to hear so he can head back to work.

"My job told me to collect unemployment until we call you back," Bibbins said. "I'm just waiting on the call."

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