At the Omni Fort Worth Hotel downtown, more than a dozen people stand in a line with resumes in hand. They’re all waiting to be called by a manager for interviews during a recent hiring fair. A woman comes into the hall and says they had a larger crowd than expected and they’re pulling more managers to conduct interviews. Candidates will be asked if they would be willing to work other roles.
People like Michael Howell are looking for full-time jobs at the hotel. He’s finishing his bachelor’s degree in hospitality management with a focus on travel and tourism at Strayer University in Fort Worth. While he just started looking for a job, he said he’s feeling good about the prospects.
He has some reasons to be confident. Texas, along with the Fort Worth-Arlington metro area, has surpassed the number of jobs it lost as COVID-19 emerged in the spring of 2020. And despite rising interest rates and inflation – and fears of a possible recession – the Fort Worth-Arlington area is still on a job-adding spree that is on par with the rest of the region and state. The hospitality industry was a leader among the sectors that added the most jobs in the Fort Worth-Arlington area.
“I know that there are lots of jobs out there and the world is ready to get back to where we used to be,” Howell said. “So the hospitality industry is definitely going to be booming.”
Fort Worth and Arlington added 56,700 jobs in February compared to the same time last year, a 5% increase, according to data from the Texas Workforce Commission. The unemployment rate in Tarrant County was 4.3%, about the same compared to last February.
Adam Perdue, an economist at the Texas A&M Real Estate Research Center, expected the high employment growth in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to slow down toward the end of 2022 once the numbers were adjusted. The adjustment, however, hasn’t changed the numbers significantly, he said, and the area is doing surprisingly well.
Leisure and hospitality jobs have led across the board, Perdue said, partially because the industry still hasn’t caught up with the jobs it lost during the pandemic.
“Pretty much across the board, everything’s still looking pretty good,” he said.
Layoffs still come into play
Positive job growth doesn’t mean Fort Worth is immune from layoffs. Three companies in Tarrant County have notified the Texas Workforce Commission of planned layoffs, which will affect 285 workers, according to the Texas Workforce Commission WARN Act Notifications as of March 22. The companies are:
- Penske Logistics in Keller, laying off 152 by May 20.
- Interceramic showroom in Fort Worth, laying off 12 by May 31.
- Misfits Markets Technology, Inc., laying off 121 by April 8.
Other planned layoffs have not yet been submitted to the Texas Workforce Commission.
Toolmaker Stanley Black & Decker plans to close a plant in Fort Worth and lay off 175 by 2024. Amazon also says it will lay off more than 18,000 employees across the country.
‘There’s still a lot of unknowns’
Jan Riggins, general manager for Express Employment Professionals offices in Fort Worth, said she’s seen strong growth in the logistics industry, with a strong need for commercial truck drivers.
However, she’s noticed some companies within the light manufacturing industry in a holding pattern.
“I think probably because they don’t know what’s going to happen is my guess,” Riggins said.
In February, factory activity declined for the first time since May 2020, according to manufacturing executives that responded to a survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Economists previously told the Fort Worth Report that slowdowns in the manufacturing sector typically act as an economic bellwether.
Going into 2023, Riggins was expecting a lower demand for employees from companies. The demand has dipped slightly since last year, but she is still seeing demand in the various industries that utilize the employment agency. Looking forward, Riggins said she’s cautiously optimistic about the economy.
“There’s still a lot of unknowns about what’s going to happen and … a lot of different things affect the businesses in our area,” Riggins said.
Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @sbodine120.
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