The job market in Fort Worth and Arlington is starting to level out as employers adapt to higher prices and interest rates.

In September, jobs dipped slightly. The Fort Worth-Arlington area lost 1,300 jobs, but the market is still up 5.7% compared to the same time last year.

Laila Assanie, senior business economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, said Fort Worth and Arlington make up about 35% of employment in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. 

She said the Fort Worth and Arlington job market is still strong going into the fourth quarter of the year, and above average for the metro area. However, Assanie said the pace of growth is starting to moderate — from 4.9% in the first quarter to 3.9% in the third quarter. That percentage is still above average — typically, the average growth rate for the area is between 2 and 2.5%.

The transportation and warehouse industry is leading in hiring along with the leisure and hospitality industry, she said.  

At the same time, some industries are starting to pump the brakes on hiring. As mortgage interest rates rise and less people buy houses, it will affect the real estate and construction industries. Construction is still steady this year because firms are working through a large backlog. 

“As (homebuilders) plan for next year, the stock numbers will look a lot different,” Assanie said. “They will be a lot lower compared to what they were this year because demand has fallen off in that sector.” 

Manufacturers are also working through a backlog of orders due to supply chain tangles, but new orders are slowing down, according to the Dallas Fed’s Manufacturing Outlook Survey. 

“That is an indication to us that although production right now still remains positive, it is likely that we will probably see a decline in those numbers given that new orders have slowed,” Assanie said.

The manufacturing sector acts as an economic bellwether, Assanie said. When manufacturing slows, the service sector follows. 

Still, employers across Tarrant County are still looking to hire employees. At a Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County-hosted job fair, 160 employers sat at booths. In total, the employers had 7,128 job openings. 

Jann Miles, planning director with Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County, said the pandemic accelerated the trend of baby boomers retiring. That created the perfect storm, she said. 

“Some (baby boomers) have come back but I think on a temporary basis because of inflation,” Miles said. “But largely we’ve seen an exodus from the workforce and now we’re finding new people to fill those jobs.” 

She’s seen big demand in manufacturing and healthcare industries, along with positions that require workers to show up in person. Workforce Solutions recently partnered with Tarrant County College to accelerate nursing training to help fill the workforce gap. 

Cindy Svoboda, a talent acquisition specialist with Integrated Machinery Solutions in Azle, said as manufacturing comes back from overseas and demand increases, the company needs more machinists with specialized training and welding skills. Finding the right employees can be challenging — she said she has about eight positions open at any point in time. 

“You’re basically telling a large computer how to cut up this piece of metal and turn it into a part, so it just takes a long time to learn this,” Svoboda said. 

But lots of openings does not mean job hunting is easy. Fort Worth resident Jane Bonanno attended the job fair. She said she has been applying to jobs since August, when she moved to the area from New York.

“I’ve sent out 27 resumes,” Bonanno said. “I’ve gotten four phone calls.”  

She said she came to the job fair to get past the online algorithms. Her fingers are crossed, she said. 

Colby Waldrop, west district sales manager for the temporary staffing agency CornerStone Staffing, described the Fort Worth labor market as extremely competitive. 

In particular, supply chain and logistics openings are growing. As expanded distribution centers continue to expand in the area, it takes a large number of people to operate — and the market has become more competitive for entry level workers as the retail industry reaches peak season during the holidays, he said. 

Waldrop also sees large demand in health care as flu season affects the health care system with everything from nursing to patient registration and insurance. 

With the rise of commercial, highway and residential developments, the need for utilities have risen, which includes positions such as engineers, analysts, manufacturing, equipment, logistics and installers. Accounting and collections is seeing demand as well as inflation and labor costs impact a business’s profits. 

“This is generally a heavier time for accounting as we are getting closer to the end of the year and companies want to close the books as positively as possible,” Waldrop said in a statement. 

Waldrop said the agency is starting to see companies evaluate staffing needs with inflation.

“Cost of living adjustments, increased salaries and inflation are heavily impacting the bottom lines as we get into the final stretch of the year coupled with hesitancy on what the market holds for 2023,” Waldrop said. 

Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at seth.bodine@fortworthreport.org and follow on Twitter at @sbodine120.

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Seth Bodine

Seth Bodine is the business reporter for the Fort Worth Report. He previously covered agriculture and rural issues in Oklahoma for the public radio station, KOSU, as a Report for America corps member....