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Helped Needed Part 4: Getting the workforce back on track

According to Jim Lee, economics professor at A&M University-Corpus Christi, the pandemic has still left a lasting impact on employers across many industries.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — According to one economics professor, the Coastal Bend has recovered most jobs since the pandemic, but there is a small percentage that might not come back. 

New unemployment numbers are expected to come out this Friday with thousands of jobs still available here in our area. Unemployment rates in the Coastal Bend sit at 5.4%.

That's higher than the state average. The new figures will be a tall tale sign of what's to come.

Richard Lopez, Assistant Director of Express Employment Professionals, said the company acts as a middle man by connecting employers with people looking for jobs. 

"We saw incredible lows in terms of jobs available and job seekers, now that we've come out of it, we've seen an abundance of jobs," Lopez said. 

The number of jobs are outpacing the amount of workers returning, with some openings tougher to fill than others. 

"I'm looking at over 20 different openings I got right now, anywhere from office services, house keepers, skilled labor, to service technicians, we have the need for work," Lopez said. 

According to Jim Lee, economics professor at A&M University-Corpus Christi, the pandemic has still left a lasting impact on employers across many industries. 

"For different reasons the pandemic has hurt Corpus Christi a lot more severely than other cities, because of our reliance of in person employment, most people can't do things remotely," Lee said. 

He adds that this transition period is tricky for jobs in construction and the service industry. 

"Seven percent of the workforce, all of a sudden quit their jobs, most of them are looking for other jobs, which is tied to inflation," Lee said. 

People are leaving their jobs in hopes of better pay, or choosing different careers. However, there are also other reasons that for the recent shortage in workers.

"Daycare accounted for almost half of all the jobs we lost last year. Slowly we see those workers coming back, the younger generation, gen z, is coming back to work," Lee said. "The baby boomers, early retirees, more of those people have decided to retire early or old age workers like me."

More than three million Americans retired early due to the pandemic. The stock market surge and housing market boom providing some folks with the opportunity to retire earlier than expected.

"We have recovered all jobs except for three percent of those jobs we lost during the lockdown, which marked the peak of our unemployment rate which was close to 15 percent. I suspect we will never gain back all of those jobs," Lee said.

As companies compete against each other to reel new employees in, job seekers are now in a position to be more choosey, and that's rarely been the case. 

"I've seen some familiar faces I haven't seen in a couple of years here, really good seeing those people," Lopez said. 

Lopez added that he remains hopeful and takes pride in knowing they are playing a role in getting the workforce back on track.

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