By Jack Fink

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas predicted Friday that Texas will see 4.2% job growth this year, which amounts to the state adding 518,000 jobs. “Which is quite strong,” said Keith Phillips, assistant vice president and senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

He said, “But even at 4.2%, we’re going to be slightly below pre-pandemic jobs so we won’t catch up to where we were prior to the pandemic.”

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Phillips said the COVID-19 vaccine will help drive economic growth in the second half of the year and possibly as early as the second quarter.

Last year, he said Texas fared better than the rest of the country.

While the number of jobs nationally fell by 6.2% in 2020, they decreased by only 4.5% in Texas.

Phillips said that’s in part because people and businesses moved to Texas where there’s more space and it’s cheaper to live. “We have some data that suggests there was an uptick or at least stable net-migration of people and some pretty big firms moving into the state of Texas.”

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Carol Roehrig, whose owned BKM Total Office of Texas in Dallas for 20 years, says she’s starting to see more interest from companies looking to revise their workspaces to make them safer for their employees. “What everybody’s looking for is safety. It’s the number one thing that’s going to drive people back to the office. Without feeling that places are safe, there’s still going to be this reticence to go back.”

Roehrig said she believes the economy will grow even more once more employees will return to the office.

She says revised workspaces will make them feel safer. “Innovation comes through collaboration, it doesn’t come in isolation. So since all this isolation time, Zoom life is so fatiguing to most people, so that it dampens the creativity part of innovation.”

Roehrig said she’s helped middle-sized companies rework their office spaces to make them safe and easy for employees to collaborate on projects.

For those businesses that haven’t already done so, she said now is the time for them to start planning for their employees to return to the office.

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