The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought some unknowns for employers that resulted in many of the employers laying off or furloughing their employees. Employers cited that they had no concept of how long this pandemic would last, if they would have access to resupply items to sell, and most importantly – access to customers. All of these contributed to employers shedding employees off their payroll.
The one constant was that there was uncertainty how long this pandemic would last – 6 weeks, 3 months, 1 year – 5 years? We still do not know the answer to this but using the words of a local employer, “we need to keep living.” While this sentiment is great, the pandemic keeps getting in the way of what was our “normal” living. As we fast forward, our neighbors who were out of work now have new opportunities as businesses continue to open and the economy continues to recover.
Unemployment at the worst point in the city during this pandemic was at an all-time high of nearly 14% - well up from the normal unemployment level of 3.5%. While this is staggering for our city, the unemployment rate on the national level trended much higher. With the absence of guests (tourists) in our city, it is not surprise that most of the unemployment’s occurred in the tourism and hospitality area. The great news is that the recovery has occurred rather quickly and in July (the last published period) the unemployment rate was down to 7% - half the rate of the worst point during the pandemic; but still 3.5% higher than the norm. The additional news that can be extracted from this data is that the total number of jobs in New Braunfels is down approximately 2,500 compared to the 2019 employment numbers – this is approximately 3.5% of the New Braunfels population.
The best news is that we are not in Hawaii where their unemployment rate still ranks #1 at a rate of 20.3% in August 2020! The point of this is that New Braunfels has created some job “security” in several of the industries that we have, and those industries are carrying the load to get us back to normal. We should be thankful that we live in the greatest city, in the greatest state, in the greatest country.