The US senate voted yesterday to end a Republican-led filibuster to extend unemployment benefits for roughly 2.5 million Americans. That set the stage for a final Senate vote today.
Let's say this extension does pass, will the unemployed in West Texas be affected? Not likely, because some of our cities have the lowest unemployment in the state. In fact, Midland's unemployment rate is so low right now it's almost considered full employment.
"We're truly blessed with this region. We're talking about 16-17% unemployment; we're talking no job opportunities," explains Willie Taylor, Executive Director for the Permian Basin Workforce Solutions.
Places like Detroit and Chicago have those unemployment numbers. The only city in the Permian Basin with double digit numbers is Pecos.
"Midland is leading the state at 5.9% and Odessa is 8.6%," says Taylor.
Full employment is considered between 4.5 and 5%, which is a healthy number. While the rest of the country deals with high unemployment, West Texas feels it from the other side. Back in 2007 some of our unemployment rates dropped below 3, which according to Taylor can create its own problems.
"You know when you see 2.8 or 3.2 your industry thatís looking to come in, they have no work force to draw from. So you can have a negative impact when you look at it at an industry standpoint," explains Taylor.
As the percentages continue to drop in the Basin, Taylor hopes our cities can level out between 4 and 6%. Cities like Midland and Odessa are pretty appealing to people who have been unemployed for a while.
"We begin to see more and more calls coming in from other parts, states asking about our job market, our homes. We see it everyday," says Taylor.
The Workforce Solution gets about 10 to15 phone calls a day from people in other states wanting to relocate to West Texas. In fact, one family just moved here from Detroit and told Taylor they couldn't be happier with their move!