Amid COVID-19 restrictions, Abilene holds 3rd-lowest unemployment rate in Texas


ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — The City of Abilene has apparently been able to maintain a relatively strong workforce through the pandemic, coming in with the third-lowest unemployment rate in Texas. 

“If Texas has one of the best unemployment rates in the nation, I would think that Abilene is right up there being one of the best unemployment rates in the nation,” said David Smith, regional director for the Texas Tech Small Business Development Center. 

David says that right now businesses are looking to hire instead of fire. 

“I talked to two small business owners, actually restaurant owners, and they have actually been looking for help and trying to find help, and have actually had a difficult time getting people to come back to work,” said Smith.  

Alex Russell, owner of The Local says that right now she has no plans of letting her staff go. 

“Our number one priority is to protect them so they can serve our community well, and I am proud to say we have not laid anyone off yet,” said Russell. 

So, while the season has been tough on some business owners, David says there’s actually an influx of people wanting to start their own businesses. 

“We are getting people coming in all the time, almost every day, wanting to start a new business and that’s encouraging to see that people still have the entrepreneurial spirit,” said Smith.   

This is not to say the past year has been easy, but to provide perspective to the community that Abilene is doing better than one might think. 

“At the end of the day, we’ve got to remember that people are our greatest asset, and if we can just keep the money in Abilene, and keep the money in our local businesses and local homes, we’ll get through this,” said Russell.  

While the pandemic has been tough on The Local and other small businesses, Russell says she is excited for the day Abilene can have a grand reopening. 

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