SPECIAL REPORT: As East Texas rebounds from the pandemic, here are the top industries that need workers

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TYLER, Texas (KETK) – It’s a year of recovery for the East Texas economy after it was slammed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Local businesses are looking to hire employees for blue- and white-collar jobs.

“Overall in the next five years, we are expecting job growth to be about 14,000 new jobs.”

Victor Valle, Tyler Economic Development Council

By some estimates about 6,700 people lost their job during the pandemic.

“We do notice a lot of people have lost their jobs permanently,” Valle says. “However, there are a lot of new jobs coming to the market. Especially, the medical sector.”

Here are the top five industries now hiring in East Texas:

5. Oil & Gas

New cases of COVID-19 are falling, which is leading to more people coming out of lockdown and hitting the roads. This is causing a demand for fuel.

Jasper Ventures is a family-owned business in East Texas, founded almost 30 years ago to support the industry. The company has facilities in Whitehouse and Troup.

“Most of the work that Jasper Ventures does is building cryogenic gas processing plants. These are very large plants that separate out the gasses that come in through the pipelines, and then send them out different pipelines to allow them to be used for different industries and uses in our community and our economy and world.”

Carrie-Anne Jasper Yearty, vice president of People at Jasper

Jasper Ventures, like the rest of the oil industry, was not immune to coronavirus. It laid off about 300 employees. Now, it is hoping to rehire many of those workers with wages starting at above $15 an hour with benefits.

“Our hope for the future is to recover quickly from the pandemic, that we are able to rehire some of our fantastic employees that were laid off. We want to see them back in the industry and our company and providing for their families,” Yearty said.

4. Construction

Houses continue to be built all over East Texas, which is creating opportunities for people who work in the construction industry. Jobs include painting, roofing and carpentry.

“Construction is one of those things you can always rely on when you are needing to get back to work. You can always find something to do there.”

John Doss, East Texas construction worker

According to Associated Builders and Contractors of America, there are 500,000 construction jobs ready to be filled with pay between $13 to $25 an hour. Some employees in this industry can rake in even more cash.

“It’s a really good trade skill to know,” Doss says. “You can take it anywhere. It doesn’t just apply here in Texas. You can move around and go wherever.”

Doss is about to become a first time father and feels at ease knowing he has a steady job.

“It’s nice knowing I have something I can rely on and provide for my wife and future child. I’m excited. I’m looking forward to it and having a child of my own,” he says.

3. Transportation, shipping, and warehousing

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many people to stay indoors and buy products online. This has led to a boom in the shipping industry.

“I’ve been ordering online,” Valle says. “I try to shop local and support our local economy, but there are some things I don’t want to go out for and get exposed [to the virus] needlessly.”

There are warehouses and distribution centers in East Texas that operated by Brookshire’s, Target and Dollar General, just to name a few.

2. Retail, food, and customer service

There are plenty of malls, shopping centers and restaurants in East Texas. As more people come out of lockdown, these businesses are serving more customers.

Right now, there are around 527 opening for cashiers, line cooks, and customer service representatives.

1. Medical

The pandemic has dramatically increased the need for more healthcare workers in East Texas with both Christus and UT Health East Texas posting over two thousand openings in just the last month alone.

“Being in HR for many years, it’s been the most crazy year for us in the hiring space,” Mary LaFrancois, Vice President of Human Resources for UT Health East Texas says. “Our demand has gone up especially in specific areas like in our ICU or respiratory care. If you know about COVID, it’s centered around respiratory.”

Samuel Acres is a registered nurse working his first job out of college at UT Health Tyler.

“It’s been overwhelmingly positive. I very much enjoy all of it. All of my coworkers enjoy what they do and have a sturdy drive.”

Samuel Acres, UT Health Tyler nurse

Acres has no regrets joining a field caught in the middle of the coronavirus crisis. He urges others who are interested in this field to step up and serve the community.

“I enjoy helping patients get better. The day-to-day changes you see if often drastic. I have some days where a patient is feeling terrible and then the next they are up and walking. It’s very fulfilling to see patient growth and recovery.”

According to the 2021 Perryman Economic Forecast, East Texas is set to outpace economic expansion nationwide. This will hopefully lead to more opportunities for a better future.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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