The 15th Annual North East Texas Economic Outlook Conference was held on Wednesday, December 14, 2022 at the Hopkins County Civic Center. The Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Economic Development Corporation brought in Commissioner Representing Employers Aaron Demerson to speak to business leaders from around the area about issues facing employers in today’s market. The event was catered by Brasher Catering.
Aaron Demerson has been appointed by Governor Greg Abbott since August of 2019. He is the advocate for over 600,000 employers in the state of Texas. He previously served as the Director of the Office of Employer Initiatives at the Texas Workforce commission. He has a BBA in Finance from Texas A&M University-Kingsville and received a banking diploma from the American Institute of Banking.
He spoke about employment in Texas pre-pandemic, during the pandemic and post-pandemic. Pre-pandemic unemployment numbers were low and the job force was growing. He stated that during the pandemic, unemployment grew to 12.9%. In a post-pandemic state, Texas is ranked number 1 in small business growth, with a 4% unemployment rate. He stated that there is still a labor shortage, in a very competitive market.
Demerson feels that a key to growth and the future of Texas employers is to utilize programs that help the workforce adapt. Such as foster care, second chance, veterans and people with disabilities in the work force. By bridging the gap between the workforce, education and economic development, employers will find a work force to make improvements and strength. The state sponsors programs to help train employees that the employers can employ within their organization to grow skilled workers.
There is currently an internship program that the is called “Texas Works” where the state will pay $10 of the employees pay while the employers pay another $10, that the Texas Workforce Commission is trying to push in the rural areas of the State to grow the workforce in the area and help to keep employees in those areas.
Questions were raised about how employers are to compete for employees in a market where some would rather stay on unemployment than go back to work. Demerson said that if the employer is to offer a person employment and they do not take it and the employer figures they are using the program to stay on unemployment that individual can be turned into the State. He again suggested using non-traditional ways to find new employees such as the foster care system and second chance workers.
Another comment was made about evidence stating a 4-day work week could be a new way for employers to reach new employees; is the State exploring this option? Overall, yes, the State is looking into this as an option for employers to offer different styles of schedules for employees. A combination of if fitting for the business and employees.
Photos by Chloe Kopal and Allison Libby-Thesing. Article by Allison Libby-Thesing