Dennis Jansen Discusses Unemployment on KBTX

Feb 25, 2021
Summary: An interview with Dennis Jansen on the February issue of Economic Indicators, unemployment rates, and the state of the local economy aired on KBTX news on Tuesday, February 23, 2021.

The focus section of the report shows new Covid-19 and the Dallas Federal Reserve’s Mobility and Engagement Index for select Texas metro areas. Among those, the College Station-Bryan MSA held the second highest number of new weekly coronavirus cases and was ranked first in the Mobility and Engagement Index.

Jansen explained, “Covid[-19] cases have both direct and indirect effects. Some of the direct effect is just that certain shut down or restricted use regulations depend on the severity of the Covid[-19] infections in a local area...The mobility and engagement index – so, this is an interesting index that basically tracks when your cell phone leaves a location. It doesn’t track every single person’s cell phone, but nonetheless, it’s a sample and it very much tells how people are moving about in certain areas. College Station-Bryan has one of the highest mobility indices in the state. I suspect that’s due to two things: one, is our high student population compared to big cities where they may have big universities, but they are swamped by the [large] populations in those cities. And the other thing is just related to the big student population – there’s a big youth population.”

At 5.4%, College Station-Bryan’s unemployment rate again ranked second among other Texas metro areas. “As typical, our unemployment rate is second lowest in the state in December…Other areas in the state have higher unemployment rates and are higher than the state average and these include Houston with an 8.3% unemployment rate, which is higher than the state’s 7.2% [rate]. So, the unemployment rate in Texas is higher than the national unemployment rate – that is an unusual event. And even though College Station-Bryan is low within our state, it’s 5.4% [rate] is getting pretty close to the national 6.3% [rate] and that’s also quite unusual. We’re usually quite a bit below the national unemployment rate,” said Jansen.

The Business Cycle Index for College Station-Bryan, which uses the local unemployment rate in its calculation, shows recent periods of both increases and decreases. Jansen shared, “Basically, I think it’s fair to say that its been volatile but relatively flat, in a sense, with the ups and downs since September.  You know I think the unemployment rate is simply telling you what’s going on with our Index – that it’s volatile and it’s sort of moving in the wrong direction a small amount.”

To see the full interview on KBTX, click here.

To read the February 2021 issue of Economic Indicators, click here.