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Local Unemployment Rate Up, but Experts Say Jobs Aren't the Issue

Unemployment numbers continue to rise in the nation and state, and here in Wichita Falls, too.  Officials say there are plenty of jobs to be had, though, and employers are simply waiting on the workers with the right skills.
    After some earlier improvement in unemployment rates in Texas and this area, the rates are on the rise again.
    Despite that discouraging report, local job officials say there are jobs to be had, if you have the skills employers need.
    Tim Chase, with the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says, "At WorkInTexas.com, I found 260 jobs that are available today in Wichita Falls."
    Chase says there are plenty of entry and upper-level jobs available in the area, and an additional 240 jobs available in surrounding cities.
    "There's nurse practitioners for $105-thousand a year.  Any number of welders, electricians, plumbers' anything that deals with a skill, those jobs are in high demand and low supply right now," Chase says.
    He says while some people have trouble finding a job, employers also have a problem finding workers to hire.
    "We're actually starting to hear from our employers that they can't find the skills they need to be successful."
    That's why the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce and Industry set up their Work Hard-Work Smart program; to bridge the skills mismatch between workers and employers.
    The chamber and the city try to keep the unemployment rate low by creating additional jobs by loaning 4A sales tax dollars to expanding companies.
    That didn't work with Natura World, a Canadian mattress manufacturer that sought bankruptcy protection and was recently taken over by another company.
    Natura no longer producing any mattresses in Wichita Falls and the chamber and city are now trying to recover some of the investments they made in the company.
    "We are working diligently to implement what we call the 'claw-back' portions of the agreement," Chase says.  "We don't just give companies money, we don't just loan companies money without having assurances that if they don't produce, if they don't do what they say they're going to do, then we have the option to recover."
    Natura is now owned by Spring Air Sommex, which acquired Natura in late April.
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