August hiring accelerates in Texas, San Antonio ahead of Harvey

Texas hiring accelerated in August as the state added 20,400 jobs, compared with 11,200 in July as the state braced for Hurricane Harvey’s impact, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas reported Friday.

Hiring was also good last month in San Antonio, which added 6,400 new jobs, the Dallas Fed said. That compares with just 400 new positions added in July in the Alamo City.

The Texas unemployment rate also fell a notch to 4.2 percent in August from 4.3 percent in July. San Antonio’s jobless rate held steady at 4.1 percent. The national unemployment rate for August was 4.5 percent.

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The Dallas Fed continues to forecast a 2.6 percent job growth this year for Texas, double the job growth in 2016 when lower gasoline prices hindered energy employment.

“Job growth was moderate in August; however, the continued strength in the leading index suggests growth above trend for the second half of 2017,” said Keith Phillips, Dallas Fed senior economist in San Antonio, in a prepared statement.

Hurricane Harvey occurred after the collection period for the employment data and thus is not included in the August numbers, the Dallas Fed said.

Without the hurricane, the Gulf Coast region, which includes Houston, Beaumont, Port Arthur, Corpus Christi and Victoria, would have gained about 5,000 jobs in September, the report states. Because of the hurricane, however, the region will lose between 42,000 and 74,000 jobs, based on the economic size of the storm damage when compared to past hurricane damages.

Instead of growing by 3,000 in October and 4,000 jobs in November, the Gulf Coast region, because of Hurricane Harvey’s damage, will rebound by 34,000 to 54,000 jobs in October and between 20,000 and 30,000 jobs in November as the area rebuilds. In December, the region will add another 9,000 to 12,000 jobs, Phillips’ report states.

Hurricane Harvey’s net effect on state job growth for the year therefore is expected to be minimal, the Dallas Fed added Friday.

San Antonio had good employment gains almost across the board, noted Steve Nivin, St. Mary’s University associate economics professor. Hiring jumped in August for leisure and hospitality, up 2,800, professional and business services, up 1,100, and in trade and transportation, up 1,000.

The rise in professional and business services “is a sign the rest of the local economy will grow as well,” Nivin said. An 800-job gain last month in health care and education indicates “that the debate over the Affordable Care Act has subsided for now, reducing some uncertainty for that industry,” Nivin said.

San Antonio remains on track for a 2.25 to 2.5 percent job growth for all of 2017, close to the area’s historic growth rate of 2.4 percent going back to 1991, Nivin said.

Among large Texas cities, Austin had the lowest unemployment rate in August at 3 percent. The jobless rates in other Texas metropolitan areas were Dallas at 3.7 percent, Fort Worth at 4.7 percent and Houston at 5 percent.

The Texas Workforce Commission reported Friday that 43,100 people in the San Antonio area were looking for work in August.

Some of them, mainly active and ex-military personnel, attended a recent job fair held by Recruit Military. About 500 people visited with the 60 employers and military support organizations at the fair.

Martin Marietta, based in Raleigh, North Carolina, was recruiting for truck drivers, a plant manager, mobile mechanics, mechanical technicians and superintendents.

The company was looking to fill 40 to 50 driver positions to deliver ready-mix, a form of concrete, said Jonathan Sirmon, regional human resources manager.

In San Antonio, Martin Martietta is a sand, rock and gravel producer and ready-mix supplier, employing about 500 people locally, Sirmon said.

“We continually look for truck drivers. We usually compete against the oil fields for them. We’re not having a hard time finding people. We just want more of them,” Sirmon said.

“Austin, San Antonio and Dallas all are booming for us,” Sirmon added, explaining the company supplies contractors building highways, housing, airports and malls.

San Antonio-based SandTech Solutions, a cybersecurity company, was looking for candidates for information security specialists, database administrators, electronic health record project manager and a health plan manager during the fair. Most of SandTech’s clients are military units.

“Where we have trouble is that our positions require security clearances. Older and retired people don’t look to renew their clearances, which makes our labor market a little difficult. In the end, we still find people,” said Karen Allen, SandTech senior recruiter.

Another San Antonio company at the fair also sought candidates with government security clearances. Master Clean Services Inc. sought to hire seven full-time janitorial positions paying $14 to $15 an hour with full benefits for day and night shifts.

The jobs require security clearances because family-owned Master Clean Services’ clients are government offices.

“We currently are having a hard time finding candidates” because of the security clearance requirements that means job seekers must not have any collection debt and no felonies on their records, said Vanessa Cavazos, Master Clean Services general manager.

Rosie Sandoval was among the hundreds seeking work at the fair, having moved to San Antonio two months ago after her husband retired from Fort Campbell in Kentucky.

“I’m not picky. My background is in warehousing, child care, and I used to be a Border Patrol agent,” Sandoval said.

She said she was glad to attend the job fair because there were numerous opportunities to explore. “It’s hard to find work in the Kentucky-Tennessee area,” Sandoval said.

dhendricks@

express-news.net

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