WICHITA COUNTY (KFDX/KJTL) — During the height of the pandemic, everyone was hit with record-high unemployment rates.
“Last year, unemployment got over 10% in our area and that might be the highest it’s ever been,” Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Henry Florsheim said.
10.6% here in Wichita Falls to be exact in April of 2020, equally over 6,500 people.
“So ever since then, we’ve slowly been getting back to maybe what you call normal, I don’t really know what that means anymore,” Florsheim said.
Numbers would fluctuate the rest of 2020 and even into 2021, a year after those record highs. It was inching back to 5.6%.
“When I look at unemployment numbers, I look at workforce ready people as we bring in different businesses and industries, what kind of a resource do we have with skilled people or semi-skilled people that will work in those jobs that we are bringing in,” Wichita County Judge Woody Gossom said.
And Florsheim said filling those jobs are key in improving those unemployment numbers and they’re doing just that.
As the unemployment rate hit 4.3% in October which is just below the pre-pandemic number of 4.4% in February of 2020.
“If unemployment dropping and we don’t have any more people working, that’s bad news, but we’ve been tracking it and we have more people working now than when COVID first started,” Florsheim said.
A trend that doesn’t really surprise Judge Gossom based on the people in the area.
“We have a pretty good work ethic of the people of this county, they want to work, they want to have an income, they want to stand on their own. We’re still Texans and even those who moved here as soon as they could, they are Texans,” Gossom said.
With those numbers continuing to trend in the right direction, Florsheim said it hinges on two main factors: Workforce increasing and sales tax collections in the city.
“Those are the two indicators that you really look at to say, ‘how’s your economy going’ and with those two things happening and heading in the right direction, then Wichita Falls is going to be just fine,” Florsheim said.
Florsheim added he’s hoping these numbers can add some much-needed continuity to provide a more stable business environment from continued supply chain to workforce issues!