Digital Exclusive: Permian Basin sees a dramatic increase in unemployment for the month of April

Local News

PERMIAN BASIN (YourBasin) – Midland and Ector County see the worse unemployment numbers in recent years as the oil and local economies’ collapse amidst the pandemic.

“Midland and Odessa, we’ve had some of the highest unemployment that I’ve seen in a long time and I’ve been out here for about 48 years,” says Permian Basin Workforce Board CEO Willie Taylor.

According to Odessa Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Renee Earls, in April 2019 unemployment rate was a little less than 2%. Now with newly released numbers from April of this year unemployment now stands over 10%.

“When we receive the numbers there always two months behind. So, we just received April’s numbers. We will receive May’s next month and we expect those numbers, they could dip more but already the reports of the stock market doing better, more businesses opening up so, therefore, there is more commerce taking place,” says Earls.

Thought as the state has reopened Earls remains optimistic that unemployment numbers are trending downwards.

“Hopefully come June we’ll notice that people are back to work, more positions are available and hopefully the oil and gas has stabilized a bit,”says Earls, “I just think we have to be cautious in stepping out there and keep in mind we don’t want these businesses to go back and have to close again.”

According to an interactive dashboard from Taylor, the Permian Basin ranks 11th in Texas for most unemployment claims made since April 1.

As businesses reopen Taylor says things are beginning to slim down.

“When Midland was about 10.2%, Odessa was about 13.5% and that is a big jump for what use to be some of the lowest unemployment in the state,” says Taylor, “But we look like we are beginning to flatten out a little bit.”

Breaking down counties’ top five reasons for people to apply for unemployment Ector and Midland, reason number one was support activities for oil and gas operations.

“Times are a little different,” says Earls.

Cautious optimism remains in the mind of experts as all signs of businesses opening, stock market trending up and even some businesses looking to hire around the Basin point to lower unemployment rate.

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