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Unemployment rates rise in Midland and Odessa

Nationally the unemployment rate is declining, but Midland and Odessa saw the number rise from October to November.
Published: Dec. 21, 2020 at 8:03 PM CST
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MIDLAND, Texas (KOSA) - A year ago, the unemployment rate in Midessa was around two percent.. one of the lowest in the country.

This year those numbers show a different story.

Nationally the unemployment rate is declining, but Midland and Odessa saw the number rise from October to November.

In Midland, the unemployment rate rose from eight percent in October to 9.3 percent in November.

Odessa has recorded the highest unemployment rates in the state for six consecutive months.

Almost every industry in the Permian Basin follows the energy sector.

When oil prices go down - unemployment goes up.

Take the leisure and hospitality industry, for example.

With oilfield work sputtering around them, they saw a massive unemployment spike from October to November.

CEO of Permian Basin Workforce Solutions Willie Taylor says because the pandemic has made everything unstable, we should expect to see ups and downs like this for a while.

“Because the oil and gas industry drives us and when you look at Amarillo had some of the lowest unemployment in the state at about 5.4 [percent], we’re not diversified in this region [like amarillo]. Being predominantly oil and gas with good-paying wages creates a ripple effect. So we’ve seen all of them [other industries] being affected a little bit,” said Taylor.

Taylor says the name of the game is getting people back to work, even if that means helping them find a new career.

Permian Basin Workforce Solutions has developed a targeted occupation list that includes about 35 different industry sectors with good-paying jobs.

The company also partnered with area colleges to train oilfield hands for new jobs.

“It’s going to take time to build back again. We have folks that want to go back to work, but I think people are legitimately afraid to go back to work because of the pandemic. I’m convinced that people want to work. Long term unemployment is not good for our business recovery in the community,” added Taylor.

Workforce Solutions has also been hosting virtual job fairs every other week to help people who have lost their jobs.

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