Even amid a global pandemic, the job market in Plano has managed to thrive.
Out of 182 U.S. cities, a study by WalletHub ranked Plano No. 10 in its list of the best places to find jobs in 2021. The study looked at 32 indicators of job-market strength, ranging from job opportunities, monthly average starting salaries and employment growth.
Sally Bane, director of economic development in Plano, said when looking at the methodology that WalletHub uses, it makes sense why Plano “might end up placing well on that list.” Regardless of the pandemic, Bane said Plano hasn’t changed from being a job hub and “job creation center.”
“I will tell you that a lot of people… may not know how strong of industry clusters Plano has, and what an economic strength that is,” Bane said. “So I think that’s some of the underlying reasons why we’re doing OK. We feel good about moving forward [and] about our community’s ability to power through this and come out the other side.”
While Plano has many industry clusters in the medical, administrative and personal services sectors, Bane said that the city also has a large financial business sector. During the pandemic, those businesses may operate differently, but they aren’t as affected since “people still need to bank, and they still need to use a credit card.”
Countrywide, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. economy hard. In April, unemployment peaked at 14.8%, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service. However, the job market has managed to bounce back some — as of December 2020, the unemployment rate decreased to 6.7%.
The unemployment rate in Texas has followed a similar trend. Texas unemployment was at 12.8% in April and 7.2% as of December, the Texas Workforce Commission reported.
But Plano has fared a bit better in comparison to state and national trends. According to YCharts, Plano’s unemployment rate in April 2020 was 11.6% and 6% as of November 2020.
Bane said while she thinks the city has helped keep unemployment rates low due to its “business-friendly policies,” the employers themselves are who have kept unemployment as low as possible.
“We are very fortunate to have some of the best companies in the country located in our community. [Their] policies and practices are healthy and continue to do well,” Bane said. “They have continued to keep their people employed, so very little furloughing has gone on. I think that speaks more than anything else to why our unemployment figures are less high than other locations in the state or in the country.”
WalletHub’s list contained 15 other cities in Texas — Austin, Grand Prairie, Amarillo, Irving, Garland, Houston, Fort Worth, Arlington, San Antonio, Dallas, Lubbock, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Laredo and Brownsville. They ranged from Austin, the next highest Texas city, ranked No. 23, to Brownsville, which was ranked No. 179, according to the study.
Part of the reason why Plano is doing better than other cities in Texas may have to do with the type of employment the city has, Bane said. For example, in the next year, the city’s fastest-growing occupations will be in health care and health-care support, office and administrative support, and computer and mathematical occupations.
“That gives us that kind of muscle that you get when you have a cluster,” Bane said. “So we will continue to have job opportunities associated with those clusters because they’re so much stronger than the national average is in those particular fields and industry sectors.”