The Texas jobs machine continues to hum, and the Permian Basin is its engine.
Texan employers grew their payrolls by 32,000 in August — the 26th straight month for jobs growth, according to new data from the Texas Workforce Commission.
"Texas' world-class employers and highly-skilled workforce continue to demonstrate competitive advantages and provide marketplace opportunities that keep our state the best in the country to do business," workforce commission chair Ruth Ruggero Hughs said in a statement.
The two biggest gainers — mining and logging, which includes oil and gas activities, and construction — have added more than 90,000 jobs since August 2017. Now, they're competing with each other for workers and the pond is running short on fish.
That means bosses will have to use tastier bait. "Rising wages can attract people," said Charles Gilliland, a research economist with Texas A&M University, speaking to the Dallas News. "We'll just have to see how they solve this problem. They have a big incentive to put people on the payroll in both segments."
The strength of the Permian Basin — the vast West Texas shale deposit attracting both the world's leading oil giants and entrepreneurial wildcatters — is evident in the new data. Between August 2017 and last month, the mining and logging segment gained 34,300 jobs to post the highest year-over-year growth rate of any Texas employment segment: 15.2 percent. Between July and August, it added 2,700 jobs, for a 1 percent bump, also the highest rate of any segment.
"Oil prices are going to support a lot more job growth," Gilliland said. "We'll have to see where we get the folks." North Texas is missing up to 35,000 construction workers, according to Phil Crone, executive officer of the Dallas Builders Association. a deficit he said adds up to $6,000 in cost and three extra months of time to build a new home.
"It's going to continue to be a challenge," he said. "We're effectively at full employment as a region. The lack of available labor is still costly, and it's still the No. 1 concern that our members have."