Why the Dallas-Fort Worth job market is about to change – with lasting changes
Note: this article is part of our State of the city project, in which The morning news from Dallas explores the most critical issues facing our communities. Find more topics in our take on the Dallas economy in the coming days.
It’s a cliché to say that the pandemic year was unlike any other, and don’t be surprised to hear the same about 2021, as both descriptions are likely true.
In Dallas-Fort Worth, where job growth appears to be a birthright, the region lost nearly 122,000 jobs last year, according to seasonally adjusted data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. This is the highest annual job loss on record for D-FW, and 12,000 more than in 2009 during the Great Recession.
But a turnaround has started as COVID-19 vaccinations increase and people circulate again. Texas business leaders are confident about the long-term outlook and prospects for their businesses, and measures of revenue growth and new orders have reached record highs, Dallas Fed polls.
“All the stars are lining up to have a great recovery,” said Luis Torres, research economist at Texas Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M University.
Dallas Fed plans Texas to create 816,000 jobs from December 2020 to December 2021. That would be nearly double the job gains statewide in 2014, the largest annual increase since at least 1940.
If employers make the planned hires, D-FW is also likely to set employment records. Since 2000, D-FW has accounted for 31% of the state’s job gains, and if it holds that share this year, North Texas would create more than 250,000 jobs in 21.
That would more than make up for last year’s job losses, and some companies are already in the business.
“We’re hiring like crazy, and 2021 is shaping up to be the strongest growth we’ve ever had – in number of employees and in revenue,” said Calvin carter, founder and CEO of Rocket in bottle, a local company known for building mobile apps and websites for dozens of well-known brands. “We have hired 50 people since the start of the year and we need to hire 40 or 50 more in the next three months.
Bottle Rocket had 240 employees before the hiring frenzy, so the additions represent a major commitment. This is due, in large part, to two enduring effects of the pandemic: a rise in digital life and the widespread adoption of remote working.
Apps and websites are more popular and needed than ever. An example: Grocery stores, restaurants and fast food customers use Bottle Rocket’s digital tools for online ordering, curbside pickup and delivery.
Consumers embraced these options early in the pandemic and continue to use them, Carter said. So customers want more.
“Businesses woke up and realized, ‘Wow, this connected lifestyle is real,’ Carter said. “They’ve found a way to do business in a whole different way, a lot cheaper, and they don’t want to go back. Everyone is trying to get the most out of technology.
About half of Bottle Rocket’s new hires will be in engineering and quality assurance, with the rest split between project management, product management, and user experience design. These are tough jobs to fill, and Carter is recruiting far beyond North Texas.
Much of the pitch: Employees can work from anywhere – and forever.
Carter embraced remote working early in the pandemic, saying people could do their jobs from an RV in Yellowstone Park as long as they had a good internet connection. The company then made remote working a permanent option.
“It’s a big advantage [for employees] and makes us much more competitive in recruiting, ”Carter said. “This opens our hiring pool to all of North America.
That’s important because there aren’t enough qualified applicants within a 30-minute drive of Bottle Rocket’s headquarters in Addison, he said.
In February, government researchers updated 10-year projections for occupations based on the potential lasting effects of the pandemic, including more remote work and less business travel. As part of a “high impact scenario” demand would increase faster for information workers and those in professional, scientific and technical services. Jobs would fall sharply in restaurants, hotels, etc.
From 2019 to 2029, the number of software developers, computer researchers and web developers is expected to increase by 19% to 26% in a high-impact scenario, according to The report by researchers from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Demand for hotel workers, cashiers, reservation agents and restaurant guests is expected to drop double digits during the same decade.
In another report on the effects of the pandemic, researchers at the Dallas Fed have warned of slowing job growth in the near term, especially due to mismatches in the labor market.
“For example, the large number of displaced workers from the leisure and hospitality sector are unlikely to easily move into growing sectors such as information technology and financial services,” they wrote. “They can more easily find jobs related to e-commerce, such as warehousing and parcel delivery.”
Since the pandemic, D-FW has lost 42,100 recreation and hospitality jobs while adding 10,700 jobs in the sector which includes transportation and warehousing.
Other job creators include food and beverage stores, building material and garden supply retailers, financial operations, and professional, scientific and technical services.
At D-FW, employment is still well below pre-pandemic levels in restaurants, health care and social assistance, and manufacturing.
The US construction industry created jobs on the residential side, but losses on non-residential projects outpaced gains. Many expect the demand for offices to decrease or increase more slowly due to remote working.
Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, has been a strong supporter of bringing workers back to the office. But in April letter to shareholders, he writes: “For every 100 employees, we might only need seats for an average of 60. This will significantly reduce our real estate needs.
If other companies followed, it would threaten dense employment centers, from New York to downtown Dallas to Plano, where Chase has a large regional office.
Carter said Bottle Rocket won’t need that much space either. About 5% of employees come regularly, and the turnout can be 25 one day, a couple the next day. In general, workers say they are happier, according to business surveys, and productivity is higher.
He still believes in bringing everyone together to collaborate and nurture each other. He’s planning a big company picnic for employees and families, hoping the rally will get more people to show up at headquarters.
“We’ve already proven that we can get the job done without someone coming to the office,” Carter said. “But I want a future where people have variety and the freedom to choose. Really smart people get bored quickly, and we have a lot of really smart people.
Features of our State of the City project on the Dallas economy:
Snapshot: The pandemic has deepened the economic divide in North Texas
Editorial: To give poor children a chance, Dallas should tackle these trends
Next step: Dallas faces post-pandemic challenge of attracting workers
SWOT: An Analysis of the Dallas Economy
Jobs: the labor market is about to change, with lasting changes
Income: wages increase, but not for everyone
Real Estate: Why Building Homes in Dallas is Difficult
Small Businesses: Can Small Businesses Bounce Back?
Mayor’s Q&A: Eric Johnson discusses Dallas economy
Opinion: Strong local partnerships promote economic mobility, says Dallas Fed
Opinion: what suburbs can teach cities like Dallas about economic mobility
Opinion: Small business startups create economic mobility