Driving down Sidney Baker Street or Junction Highway, it is hard not to miss the help wanted signs — everywhere.
With a 3.1% unemployment rate across Kerr County, employers are having a tough time finding workers to fill their open positions. Nearly every fast-food restaurant in Kerrville has a help wanted sign.
“I think there is a huge demand, particularly in the service sector, hotels and restaurants,” Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Walt Koenig said. “It is a concern.”
In last weekend’s edition of The Kerrville Daily Times, more than 70 full-time jobs were advertised, and more than 400 were open regionally, according to data from Indeed.com — an Austin-based recruitment website.
In May, according to the U.S. Federal Reserve in St. Louis, Kerr County hit 2.5% unemployment — the lowest mark since 1999 when the rate was hovering around 2%.
Since 2016, the unemployment rate in Kerrville has been around 3.6% and in January of 2019 the year started off at 3.7%. That number dropped to its lowest point in May and has been around 3% since.
“It is a critical need for us,” Kerrville City Manager Mark McDaniel said about the
labor shortage. “Our No. 1
issue is workforce housing. We have a lot of people who commute to Kerrville.”
Of course, Koenig said it’s also a good problem to have when it comes to the economic vitality of the region, but he’s also the first to admit that shoring up the workforce is important.
“I’m also helping our membership remember how important it is to retain staff,” Koenig said. “That means increasing wages and increasing benefits, which Kerrville has been a little bit slow to embrace.”
Koenig said work needs to be done to increase participation in the labor market from outreach to local high schools to senior citizens who may want to work part time.