Low unemployment leaves employers with trouble filling jobs

Published: Oct. 21, 2019 at 6:00 PM CDT
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Unemployment in Bryan and College Station is far below the national average.

Numbers released Monday by the Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation say unemployment was at a record low 2.6% in August 2019. In Texas, average unemployment is now 3.4%, while nationally it stands at 3.5%.

That's great news if you want to work, but it's been a double-edged sword for employers. Companies tell KBTX it's been challenging to hire new employees.

"It has been a trend to have a difficult time finding good employees, and it seems like it's gotten worse in the last six months," said Teresa Galliher, Kent Moore Cabinets' Vice President of Human Resources.

Galliher said the local cabinet company has openings, and trouble filling them.

"When the economy is good and people are building houses, we sell more cabinets, and when we sell more cabinets we need more employees," she explained. "We do have fewer applicants when the economy is good, because fewer people need a job, or fewer people realize that they can get a better job at Kent Moore Cabinets."

The Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation tracks economic statistics like unemployment.

"Unemployment has been trending lower and lower over the last couple of years, and a lot of that is due to what's been happening with the economy," said Matt Prochaska, the BVEDC's President and CEO. "The Economic Index is at a new high at 226. If you track that since 1995 at our baseline of 0, we've had steady growth with some dips along the way," he said.

Prochaska said the economy is strong, despite the challenges some employers are seeing.

"It’s a challenge for employers, for sure, but overall, I think one of the benefits of our area is we’re a growing area," he said. "As you can see by some of the different accolades that have been coming out about the community, we’re still very much poised for good growth and attraction, and so positive things are happening."

Personal finance website WalletHub.com just released its fastest-growing cities in America for 2019. College Station is ranked as the third fastest-growing city in Texas and eleventh nationwide. Nationally, Bryan ranked at number 45 on their list of fastest-growing small cities.

Financial news site 24/7 Wall Street also recently named College Station to its list of "America's Cheapest Cities Where Everyone Wants to Live Right Now." College Station ranked third in Texas and 39th nationally.

For those looking for work, it's a time of opportunity. Companies are also getting creative to find candidates in new ways.

"We have had to shift our focus of advertising. Before, we advertised in a lot of print, and now we advertise in a lot of online venues to find good employees," said Galliher.

Employees say even with low unemployment, the process takes time.

"I interviewed a few times [with other employers], but they didn't seem to fit," said Joshua Joiner, one of Kent Moore's newest employees. "But once I interviewed here, I definitely found that I was going to be in my element," he said.