Matthew Beeson, district manager of The Blue Fish sushi restaurant, has to wear many hats to keep his business running during the pandemic.
“Today I was host, I was server, I did some food running, took calls, a little bit of everything,” he said.
Like many restaurants, The Blue Fish struggled to keep its doors open when restaurants were forced to close indoor dining due to COVID-19.
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“It was a rough time,” said Beeson.
The restaurant pivoted to take out orders and learned a new way of doing business. Today only 15% of its employees returning to work after the pandemic – many still struggling to stay afloat financially.
“It’s just about surviving with the basic needs. Food, shelter that’s the toughest thing we’re seeing. All of their income is just going to meet their basic needs,” Beeson said.
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, there is good news on the horizon.
On Friday it released the Texas Employment Forecast for 2021 and reported that Texas is faring better than most states in the nation. Jobs are expected to increase by 4.2% over the next twelve months.
Areas in the economy that have seen significant growth include manufacturing and single-family home sales. Still, economists predict long-term structural changes will delay the return of jobs to what they were pre-Covid.
“We hear from our contacts in the hotel industry that, once hotels come back, the standard is going to be not having your room cleaned every day but having it cleaned every three days. That’s two-thirds less room cleanings. That’s going to have a dramatic impact on those hotel workers,” said Keith R. Phillips, Senior Economist at the Dallas Fed.
“Some of the changes that occur will affect lower-skilled jobs. The economy is going to bounce back, the demand is going to bounce back, but there will still be some drag due to the structural changes,” Phillips said.
Comparing the state’s large metro areas, Dallas, Austin and Fort Worth lead the way in employment growth, with Austin topping the list. San Antonio and Corpus Christi report the worst numbers of employment due to the impact the pandemic has had on the tourism industry.
Still, economists predict the vaccination rollout will improve overall employment in industries that were hit hardest by the pandemic.
“There’s a pent-up demand for restaurants, for sporting events,” said Phillips. “Once individuals are vaccinated and then there’s mass immunity, there will be quite a bit of bounce back.”
For Beeson and his employees at The Blue Fish, that outlook is exactly what they’re hoping for.
“I really hope that we can get the vaccine out to multiple people as fast as possible. Just so we can go out and enjoy our lives again.” said Beeson.