With more jobs available, the unemployment rates are falling – and not just in Karnes County but across South Texas.
Recently, Workforce Solutions of the Coastal Bend and Workforce Solutions Alamo released the April 2012 snapshot on unemployment rates for the south Texas counties including Karnes County.
“For the first time in more than three years, the Coastal Bend region has seen reductions in the unemployment rates for each many of its counties, the Corpus Christi Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), Workforce Development Area, Texas and the nation,” said the press release.
In Karnes County alone, the unemployment rate has fallen from 9.2 percent in April 2010 to 6.6 percent April 2012.
“April’s employment report is a great indicator of our ever-strengthening region,” said Victor M. Gonzalez Jr., chairman, Workforce Solutions of the Coastal Bend.
The rate is going down every month, and from March to April 2012, the unemployment rate went from 7.7 percent to 6.6 percent.
When asked how she felt about the latest stats on unemployment rates, Karnes County Judge Barbara Shaw said, “Obviously, I think it is great. Karnes County is a good place and I want to see people succeed.”
The Eagle Ford Shale has a lot to with the unemployment rates going down.
Even though there is only active drilling activity felt in certain parts of the county the whole county is feeling the effects.
New motels, restaurants, RV parks and other businesses have opened in Karnes County in the past year and all have needed to hire employees.
Shaw feels right now is the ideal time for people not only to go to work for others but to open their own businesses.
“Right now you can do anything you want in Karnes County,” she said. “If you have any type of entrepreneurship in you, you can open a business and succeed.”
Additionally, already established businesses such as fast-food chains are busier than ever before and are having to hire more staff. People who already have jobs are also leaving their jobs to pursue new jobs that pay better.
The unemployment rates can also be felt in the county’s sales tax revenue. With more people working, more money is being spent in the county, and the county has been able to establish a healthy fund balance because of that.
What is happening here is occurring in neighboring counties as well.
The Bee County unemployment rate has dropped from 8.3 percent in April 2011 to 6.8 percent in April 2012. McMullen County has a low rate of 2.4 percent. The Refugio unemployment rate, like the rest of those in neighboring counties, is going down as well and is currently at 4.6 percent.
Judge Shaw is realistic with her outlook of the unemployment rate while she is pleased it has continued to decline over the last two years she knows one day the Eagle Ford will end.
“We are going to enjoy it while we have it. What we should see (afterwards) is Karnes County should have a face-lift,” she said. “Maybe we can make the county a better place out of it.”
For those who are still looking for jobs, don’t give up. More employment opportunities are becoming available every day. Workforce Solutions of the Coastal Bend is here to help people as well. The company has nine Career Centers in its 12-county region, including one in Beeville and one in Refugio.
The Career Centers are a resource for people trying to get jobs. Their counselors will meet with people and try and identify their job skills and point them in the right direction, including ways to get financial aid for continuing education. The centers also offer computers with Internet, resume writing software, job search and career materials, telephones, copiers, printers and fax machines – all free of charge to people looking for jobs.
According to Monika De La Garza, communications and outreach coordinator for Workforce Solutions of the Coastal Bend, “From January to April, we’ve hosted 13 hiring events in the Beeville Career Center. As of May 18, we had 1,695 job postings and 2,327 job openings for the Coastal Bend region.”
Workforce Solutions of the Coastal Bend will continue to offer services that “result in a high-quality workforce system that ensures economic viability for the Coastal Bend community.”
Look for the unemployment rates to go down again with the release of the next update on June 15.
Christina Rowland is the regional editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 119, or at regional@mySouTex.com.