EL PASO, Texas - Drive around El Paso and you are likely to see "help wanted" signs posted on many local businesses. The coronavirus pandemic pushed millions of Americans out of work, including thousands of El Pasoans. As society begins to return to normal, there are those who are still out of work. How, if there are so many available jobs, are there still a considerable amount of people out of work? The question can be answered by delving into what almost all jobs offer- pay and benefits.
"I'm still looking for work, since day one," says one El Pasoan who has been out of work since this February, and wanted to talk with us anonymously. The gentleman mentioned how many of the available jobs are in the food industry, but not everyone is a food industry worker. His preferred work- construction and home inspection. He is also the only working member of his family who he has to provide for, and Gov. Abbott has just canceled any unemployment benefits that he was previously getting, says the gentleman.
He brought up that the pay that many jobs are offering is simply not enough for him to support the rest of his family. Most jobs are offering $12-14/hr he says, which is just not enough, and he's correct to make that statement.
According to Bianca Cervantes who is the Communications Director of the Workforce Solutions Borderplex, the livable wage for a family of 3 (two working adults and one child), was $12.51/hr last year. She says this year, it will be close to $14/hr. That rate would put a family just above the poverty level, but likely not at a level where one can live comfortably.
One good bit of data is that the unemployment rate that was at an all time high of 14.3% in April of 2020, has now dropped all the way to just 5.8% in El Paso, according to Cervantes. Still, the issue remains, and people aren't taking low paying jobs.
"As the unemployment rate continues to go down and those industries are still short of workers, that tells us there is not so much a shortage of workers, there's a shortage of wages," and "if an employer isn't considering the barriers that these candidates have right now, and they vary from anything to child care to health care, if that's not considered, then they aren't going to have the same talent pool that they had before Covid," says Cervantes.
For those who are looking for jobs, there will be a virtual job fair hosted by the Workforce Solutions Borderplex this Wednesday, September 22nd. Jobs of all levels, and all levels of experience will be available at the fair. The WSB will also be holding more job fairs- both in person and virtually through the end of the year. They also provide several resources on the steps it takes to get hired, such as preparing your cover letter, resume, etc. If you'd like to learn more information about the resources they offer, or the upcoming job fairs, you can go on their website: https://www.borderplexjobs.com/