Katy Edition - May 2020

OIL & GAS

Katy area less affected by oil, gas downturn

OIL SLIDE West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices fell in March as the coronavirus outbreak began despite reaching $51.36 per barrel in February.

BY NOLA Z. VALENTE

the energy industry downturn, said Jesse Thomp- son, a senior business economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Houston Branch. “People’s budgets are going to be tightening up,” Thompson said.

As the economy reopens, jobs will continue to be lost in and adjacent to the energy sector in the Katy area, local economists said. However, the Katy area should be OK, said Ed Hirs, an energy economist at the University of Houston.

FEB. 24

APR. 20 Oil prices crash into negative digits

MAY 13

$51.36

Prices for the West Texas Interme- diate crude oil crashed into negative digits—with a low of -$36.98 per bar- rel April 20—according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. As of May 13, oil prices are $25.68 per barrel, according to OilPrice. Although it is impossible to predict how long it will take for the economy

“FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE, THE VIRUS IS IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT.” JESSE THOMPSON, SENIOR BUSINESS ECONOMIST FOR THE FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF DALLAS HOUSTON BRANCH

$25.68

“The Katy area has the folks who work for the headquarters in oil and gas research and development, which tends to weather downturns better than most places in the oil patch,” Hirs said. At least 535 employees have

been laid off by energy companies with a presence in the Katy and West Houston area this year, but at least 30,900 oil and gas employees across the state have applied for unemployment insurance between April 1-May 2, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. Katy-area businesses will be affected because of

to stabilize, Thompson said the area will resume its pattern of outperforming the rest of the country once the energy market stabilizes. “This is not the end of oil and gas,” he said. “But for the foreseeable future, the virus is in the driver’s seat.” Additional reporting by Vanessa Holt.

-$36.98

MARCH

APRIL

MAY

SOURCES: U.S. ENERGY INFORMATION ADMINISTRATION, OILPRICE/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

RESTAURANTS Local eateries cautiously reopen

SOURCES: UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON, TEXAS RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION, TEXAS WORKFORCE COMMISSION/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER Protection Program believe it will be enough to keep their business whole and profitable during the coronavirus pandemic. 6% of Texas Restaurants who applied for the Paycheck furloughed between February and April. 61% of restaurant employees in Texas have been laid off or At least 769 restaurant employees have been laid off in the Katy area between March 15 and May 7. RESTAURANTSHURTING TEXAS STATS

in with their parents and focus on vir- tual school. “We’ve had people basically vol- unteer to sit on the sidelines,” Lyons said. “We’ve been able to retain a lot of our staff and give them pretty decent hours, so it actually worked out better than I was thinking going into this.” Lyons said he believes it will take at least 12 months for a restaurant recov- ery, but a cure or vaccination could accelerate the progress. Additional reporting by Jack Flagler.

BY JEN PARA

the Texas Workforce Commission. Yet when given the option to reopen their dining rooms May 1 to a 25% capacity, not every Katy-area restau- rant chose to do so. In fact, about 57% of restaurants statewide chose not to reopen May 1, according to a survey by the Texas Restaurant Association. Dish Society, which has a location in the Katy area, has been able to retain about 75% of its staff, founder and CEO Aaron Lyons said. He said many of his employees are in high school or college and volunteered to give up their hours while they move

The restaurant industry is among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pan- demic, and recovery will take months, according to state data and experts. With about 66,500 unemployment insurance claims, the full-service restaurant industry makes up 6.9% of the 957,000 claims filed in the state between April 1-May 2. The next highest industry—temporary help ser- vices—had about 25,700 claims. At least 769 Katy-area restaurant employees were laid off between April 7 and May 4, according to data from

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KATY EDITION • MAY 2020

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