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Dallas Regional Chamber Announces Area Jobs Near Pre-Pandemic Level

Business

Bryan Daniel Texas Workforce Commission chairman at State of the Workforce event. | Image from Dallas Regional Chamber

The Dallas Regional Chamber recently held the Second Annual State of the Workforce event in which local officials and business leaders met to discuss the efforts of the city to improve job numbers.

Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Bryan Daniel said the region has nearly recovered from the loss of jobs during the coronavirus pandemic that began in 2020.

Daniel told attendees Dallas’s “rock bottom” point came in May 2020. Economic recession in the region lasted only 60 days, significantly shorter than many other areas of the country, in large part due to the decision not to force business closures for extended periods.

He said the economic numbers during the pandemic were most closely related to the type of impact experienced during a disaster such as Hurricane Harvey rather than a true recession as was experienced between 2009 and 2011.

“After recording historic employment figures in February 2020, the state saw sixty times the number of unemployment claims during that March and April than during the entirety of 2019,” wrote Michael Wood, Director of Education & Workforce. “Fast forward to today, and Texas is just 125,000 workers, out of more than 13 million, shy of that all-time employment record. And the state has recorded economic growth in 16 of the last 17 months.”

Wood writes the declining jobless claims do not capture the entirety of the situation. Rather than workers returning, job numbers are improving because of new opportunities created by policy changes during the pandemic.

“This ‘new normal?’ There is nothing normal about [it],” Daniel said. “What we will have, though, are new terms, new tools, and new tactics.”

Some of these new tools and tactics include a reinvigorated look at how jobs training through community colleges can be applied to address the state’s lack of workers with “middle-skills” and methods for assisting people who are interested in changing careers.

The panel of experts discussed some of the immediate tools and tactics that can be applied, along with longer-term decisions to ensure a robust workforce of the future.

“We have developed new pathways to employment for students, [such as] training programs in logistics and supply chain, cloud support administration, and telehealth,” said Pyeper Wilkins, Vice-Chancellor of Workforce and Advancement for Dallas College. “We are using [stimulus] dollars to look forward and really dig into what the labor market says we need to be training people to do now.”

The panel also discussed methods employers have used during the economic downturn to retain employees.

Bank of America Dallas Market President Jennifer Chandler said that the banking company pledged not to lay off a single employee during the pandemic. By setting a high minimum wage of $21 per hour and ensuring employees have access to excellent benefits, Bank of America not only retained employees but has been able to expand by ensuring that employees have a career rather than just a job.

The workforce event was hosted by BGSF, a workforce solutions company based in Plano, along with Texas Mutual Insurance.   

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