Despite talk of a recession, pressure from high interest rates and climbing prices, the Fort Worth and Arlington job market is continuing to grow, economists say.
The Fort Worth and Arlington area added 34,100 jobs in October, a 2.8% increase compared to the same time last year. Employment across the state decreased slightly by 1,300.
The level of growth over the year surprised Laila Assanie, senior business economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Her expectation was that growth in the area would slow this year to below the 2.5% average for the area. Instead, growth has been floating at 3.6%, outperforming Houston and San Antonio, as well as the national average.
Fundamentally, Assanie said, she believes the job market is strong because she sees jobs being added in every sector in Fort Worth and Arlington.
“The job market has surprisingly been exceptionally resilient,” Assanie said. “And it has held its own, even as we’ve seen softness in other parts of the economy.”
The area’s job growth is in line with the state’s but is behind the typical job leaders of Dallas and Austin, Assanie said. She still expects a slowed pace going into the new year because the market has recovered the jobs it lost in the pandemic.
Despite Federal Reserve surveys indicating that the manufacturing sector — a major industry for the region — is slowing, it is still adding jobs.
“That bodes well … of how well the labor market has done overall,” Assanie said.
A recent job fair in the area saw a large crowd. The stormy weather didn’t dampen the spirits of job seekers attending the event at Globe Life Field in Arlington on a rainy Thursday afternoon in November. The host, Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County, reported 1,010 in attendance, an increase over last year. Attendees talked to employers looking to fill a total of 8,777 job openings.
But a lot of openings don’t make finding a job easy.
Job seeker Demarquis Seeth left a job in tech sales in January to serve in military backfill for active duty. The fair in Arlington was the second he attended that day, and he’s been searching for work for three weeks. The Air Force reservist said the promise of the job market depends on what sector people are searching in.
The tech sector has seen layoffs from large companies such as Google and Microsoft, but in Fort Worth and Arlington, data shows it is still adding jobs.
Lots of people are hiring, Seeth said, but the hiring process is lengthy for positions he wants. He says many of the jobs he wants have five or six rounds of interviews.
“I think the job market is climbing back up as far as employment,” he said. “It’s still rough out there.”
Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County said employers conducted 1,178 interviews at the event and made 50 offers.
What jobs has Fort Worth and Arlington been adding?
In October, the business and professional services sector added the most jobs, followed by the transportation, warehousing and utilities.
The leisure and hospitality industry also is continuing to add jobs. Jeremy Trimble, market director for recruiting company Robert Half, said part of that is that the industry was one of the last sectors to recover the jobs it lost when the pandemic started.
“It’s this recovery, along with the completion of several new local hotels (thinking of the upcoming openings of solid properties like Loews Arlington and Crescent Fort Worth), that has spurred the increase in DFW hiring within the industry,” Trimble said in an email to Fort Worth Report.
Daniel Oney, research director for the Texas Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M University, said the state has had double the job growth rate of the U.S. for the past five years. It surpassed the number of jobs added before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2022. October was the first time Texas lost jobs in 31 months.
The reason for the continued growth despite recession and economic pressures? Consumers spent a lot of time saving in 2020, along with receiving stimulus checks, he said. Most economists he’s talked to are still predicting a mild recession in 2024.
“The economy just had a little more gas in it than people thought,” Oney said.
Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at email@example.com and follow on Twitter @sbodine120.
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