Unemployment

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

At 3 percent, the unemployment rate in Central Texas is one of the lowest in the country. But most of the jobs driving that low rate require higher skilled workers, and roughly two-thirds of job seekers here don't fall into that category.

The nation's unemployment rate moved up a bit in the month of July, to 6.2 percent, as more Americans who'd been sitting on the sidelines started looking for work, according to the latest monthly report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 209,000 jobs, a bit less than economists had expected.

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The global boom in energy production driven by fracking and horizontal drilling is leading to a shortage of skilled workers. A new report by the human resources firm Mercer says two-thirds of oil and gas companies are now poaching employees from their competitors.

"The industry seems inclined when an individual is trained and developed by a competitor to, especially in the first five years of employment, go after that key talent, as opposed to training and developing their own,"  says Philip Tenenbaum, a senior partner at Mercer. 

He says in some cases, the practice has become quite overt.  

Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

Texans applying for unemployment benefits will be subject to a new drug screening procedure in a program scheduled to take effect Feb. 1. But the Texas Workforce Commission said it will not be able to start the program on the state’s timetable because the United States Labor Department has not set the required parameters.

As proponents of the program raise concerns about the Labor Department’s progress, the Workforce Commission is preparing for the testing without knowing who will be tested.

A business in Austin is laying off hundreds of employees. OneWest Bank has notified the Texas Workforce Commission that intents to lay off more than 700 employees in Austin.

The California-based company is a mortgage services provider with offices in the Domain complex.

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