KBTX Interviews Dennis Jansen on Changes in Employment, Enplanements, and Unemployment

Jul 16, 2021
Summary: On KBTX news, Dennis Jansen shared the latest numbers on local employment, higher travel out of Easterwood airport, and an unemployment rate that is still significantly higher than before the pandemic began.
Data from the July issue of Economic Indicators shows that although employment has almost fully recovered in most industries, the Leisure and Hospitality industry lags behind at only 78.3% of its pre-pandemic level. Jansen said, “The Leisure and Hospitality industry suffered the most, in a sense, during the pandemic. They were down 40% compared to just prior to the pandemic and it has clawed its way back but its stubbornly sticking around three-fourths of the level of employment that occurred before the pandemic.  In the fall when students return full-time, face-to-face, when Kyle Field is at 100% capacity for football games, we’ll see restaurants and hotels trying to re-staff and restore employment to at or near prior levels.”
Easterwood Airport enplanements, on the other hand, are nearing pre-pandemic levels and have actually surpassed the percent of enplanements nationwide. “The latest numbers we had from May are that Easterwood enplanements are 91% of what they were in the same month before the pandemic. If you compare that to the people… passing through TSA checkpoints nationwide, [it] was more like three-fourths or 74%. It’s hard a little bit to explain only because Texas A&M is certainly not back to pre-pandemic levels of travel, both internally and people coming to visit us.”
Despite hiring difficulties in several industries, the unemployment rate has continued to hover around 5.2%. “Unemployment is clearly up and …we are a little less than double what we were pre-pandemic. At the same time, restaurants around the country, and certainly locally also, have reported difficulty in hiring. And I think part of the issue is there’s the supplemental unemployment compensation benefits that until last month were available to those who lost their job during the recession and those supplemental benefits were, to some extent, generous compared to the income, perhaps, that people were earning prior to losing their job or being laid-off during the pandemic. The incentives to return to work were not as strong as they would have been without those supplemental payments. That did end in Texas – my understanding is that it ended at the end of June, and so things might be changing in this regard. Locally, the summers are sort of a tough time for businesses in some sense – they actually get less business in lodging and hospitality in the summer but on the other hand, they have fewer workers. A lot of those workers are students and the students aren’t here in great numbers. So, a lot of this changes, hopefully in the coming fall.”
See the full interview on KBTX news.