Workforce Solutions Borderplex releases labor market review

TRI-COUNTY — Workforce Solutions Borderplex, a nonprofit dedicated to helping people find quality jobs, released a labor market review to examine employment and performance in the area in October 2021. “We are incorporating unemployment insurance claimant data to provide perspective on the ongoing pandemic effect on the workforce and economy,” the organization wrote in the introduction to their report. 

Workforce Solutions Borderplex defines their area as the city of El Paso and its environs, as well as Brewster, Culberson, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, and Presidio counties. The organization has been active for over 20 years, and over that span of time has held mobile workshops for Marfa and Presidio residents seeking jobs. Recently, they’ve partnered with the Rio Grande Council of Governments, strengthening ties with local communities and businesses. 

Overall, unemployment has dropped 2 points in the region over the past year, but that may be in part due to the end of federal unemployment protections that ended in September. In Presidio county, the unemployment rate was 9.1% in October 2021; in Jeff Davis, that figure was 4.3%, and in Brewster county, 4.1%. Among the rural areas, the biggest losses were in Presidio and Brewster County, disproportionately represented with 265 new unemployment claims in Presidio County in October 2021 and 166 in Brewster County. 

In the Borderplex’s rural counties––Brewster, Culberson, Jeff Davis, Hudspeth and Presidio––the labor force decreased by 113 from September to October 2021. Employed individuals decreased by 95, and unemployed individuals decreased by 18. These trends could reflect broader population decreases throughout the region, reflected in the 2020 federal Census. 

In October 2020, the unemployment rate in Jeff Davis County was 4.3% (the same as this year’s figure), and 7.3% for Brewster County. There was no data for Presidio County. As a whole, the Borderplex region has lost 1,194 individuals in the labor force in the past year. 

Growing industry sectors included trade and transportation, professional business services, and government. The top postings in the region were seeking registered nurses, customer service representatives and retail salespeople. Sectors that lost jobs included mining, logging, construction and hospitality. 

Of unemployment seekers in the Borderplex, 55% were male and 45% were female. The largest single age group of unemployed individuals were 25 to 31 years old, and their most frequently reported occupations were in sales, construction and office support. 46% of unemployed individuals were high school graduates, and 24% had completed some college but no degree. 15% had achieved a Bachelor’s or an Associate’s degree. 

Workforce Solutions Borderplex also offers subsidized childcare for low-income families. “Today, many families with young children must choose between spending a significant portion of their income on childcare, finding a cheaper but potentially lower-quality care option, or leaving the workforce altogether,” the report explained. 

In the last year, Workforce Solutions Borderplex supported 4,068 parents with an average of 7,930 children served per month. Most of the parents needing support were in a one-parent family, with 97% of those one-parent families headed by women. “Workforce Borderplex Solutions will further support the needs of families with the recently passed Build Back Better plan,” the report continued. “For working parents, the plan provides as many as four weeks of paid leave for eligible workers, allowing parents to care for their children or family members with serious health conditions and remain financially stable while doing so.”