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Workforce Solutions Texoma Deputy Director Marsha Lindsey says now is the time to apply for a job.

“We have employers that need people now and I’m sure that’s a pattern across the state,” Lindsey said.

There are 57 employers in Cooke County with 242 positions open, Lindsey said Thursday, May 14.

“If folks see employers there that they have always wanted to work for now is the time to go ahead and let us help them get an interview with those employers,” she said.

The number of people from Cooke County filing for unemployment is starting to trickle off, Lindsey said. However, it wasn’t without hitting filing numbers the agency hasn’t seen in years.

She said the first time the agency noticed an uptick in the number of people filing for benefits was the week ending March 31. Filings resulted when a business closed or reduced hours due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is a stark comparison if you compare the numbers this year to last year,” Lindsey said.

In April 2019, 47 people in Cooke County filed for unemployment, she said. This April, 1,425 filed. Statistics include those out of work, furloughed with a date for returning to work or those who have had hours cut, according to Workforce Solutions Texoma.

“The last week of April and the first week of May we’ve seen a huge decrease in numbers reported filing,” Lindsey said. “That’s good … It’s still higher than it was last year, but it’s good to see a downward trend like that.”

Before the coronavirus, the agency had been reporting all-time record lows “for years.”

In March 2019, Cooke County’s unemployment rate was 2.9%, according to information Lindsey provided. This March, it was 4.1%.

“Which is still not bad,” she said of March’s number.

She said March’s uptick was from the last two weeks of the month when 359 people in Cooke County filed for unemployment. Only 42 people filed the first two weeks of the month, Lindsey said, for a total of 401 filers. In March 2019, 113 filed.

She said 19,049 people were employed in March in Cooke County. In March 2019, 19,426 people were working, she said. As of press time, Lindsey said she did not have April figures available.

In mid-March, Gov. Greg Abbott announced an executive order that limited social gatherings to 10 people and prohibited eating and drinking at restaurants and bars while still allowing takeout. He later issued another executive order which asked Texans to “minimize social gatherings and minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household.” It also deemed many businesses nonessential and forced them to close to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. These closures cost many people their jobs, according to the local workforce agency.

Lindsey said she did not have specific information about who is filing or an estimate on lost wages. She said she does believe that the top filers in the Cooke County area hail from the accommodation and food service industries, retail and trade, and health care.

“That’s what we are hearing,” Lindsey said.

Right now, the requirement to search for another job has been waived for those receiving unemployment insurance. Lindsey said she expects that to change soon.

“At some time in the near future, I don’t know when that’s going to be, they will be giving a two-week notice,” Lindsey said. “When they give that notice, everyone is going to be expected to start looking for a job at that point in order to get paid their unemployment insurance.”

All the more reason to apply for a job sooner rather than later, she said.

“Why not go ahead and get ahead of the game?” Lindsey suggested.

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