Houston area sees Great Recession-like job losses

Some of Houston's March unemployment numbers rival those felt during the 2008-09 Recession. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Some of Houston's March unemployment numbers rival those felt during the 2008-09 Recession. (Courtesy Fotolia)

Some of Houston's March unemployment numbers rival those felt during the 2008-09 Recession. (Courtesy Fotolia)

Houston lost 8,200 jobs in March, with some industries rivaling losses felt during the 2008-09 recession, new data from the Texas Workforce Commission shows.

In March 2008, the Houston metro area saw a decline of 5,400 jobs. However, in its worst month, September 2008, the area saw 22,100 jobs lost.

As more claims are filed, numbers are expected to grow. In Harris County alone, TWC recorded over 52,000 unemployment claims were filed in the week of April 4.

The metro area’s unemployment rate also jumped from 3.9% to 5.1% in March, surpassing both state and national averages of 4.7% and 4.5% respectively.

Losing 5,100 jobs, construction was the region’s hardest hit industry followed by manufacturing’s loss of 4,600 jobs. The manufacturing sector was affected by both coronavirus shut downs and oil prices hitting a $20 per barrel low, the new data shows.


Data from the Great Recession shows a similar slump in both industries with construction losing 5,400 jobs in April 2009 and manufacturing losing 4,500 jobs in March 2009.

“In construction, projects already underway are continuing but those still in the planning stages or that were on the cusp of starting have been delayed,” said TWC economist Parkey Harvey in a release from the agency. “For Manufacturing, it’s along the lines of a 60-40 split between the crash in oil prices and furloughs related to social distancing measures.”

The region’s hospitality industry also suffered from bar and restaurant closures and event cancellations, totaling 2,300 jobs lost in March. Typically, the month sees an uptick in hiring for an average of 4,300 jobs gained, according to TWC historic data.

Despite the bleak projections, certain industries are actively hiring.

“We’re seeing job orders come in from industries deemed essential,” said Michelle Castrow, a senior planner with Workforce Solutions.
By Emma Whalen
Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered public health, education and features for several Austin-area publications. A Boston native, she is a former student athlete and alumna of The University of Texas at Austin.