In 2010, the El Paso Electric and Hunt Companies, among others commissioned a report modeling the long-term economic trends for the borderplex through 2029, of which El Paso is part of. The report was authored by UTEP professors Thomas Fullerton and Angel Molina. The April 2010 report projected that “El Paso gross commercial activity is forecast to nearly triple from $9.8 billion in 2009 to more than $29.3 billion in 2029. The report also predicated that the number of hotels in the county was “forecast to break the century mark”.
But then the pandemic reared its ugly head.
El Paso international bridge crossings dropped significantly from a high of almost 1.2 million monthly crossings in March 2018 to a little over 300,000 in April of this year. Prior to April, the lowest number of border crossers over the bridges was about 715,000 in April of 2019. Bridge crossings generate revenues for the City in the form of sales taxes and bridge fees, among others. Pedestrian traffic across the bridges also dropped from a low of about 490,000 in September of 2018 to a little over 90,000 in April 2020.
The number of cargo trucks crossing the El Paso bridges also dropped from a low of about 57,000 in April 2019 to about 43,000 in April of this year.
However, interestingly, total trade through the El Paso Customs District remains on par, if not slightly higher, with 2018 and 2019.
All the other economic indicators have ruined the 2029 forecast model. Covid-19 is killing the El Paso economy. Because of its debt, the City of El Paso will be forced take austerity measures to forestall the possible bankruptcy of the City.
El Paso is facing the perfect economic storm.
City revenues will continue to drop as the jobless rate continues to remain high. A tsunami of evictions will put further pressure on property taxes and the resulting drop in property valuations will force the taxing entities to accept lower tax payments on existing El Paso properties.
The monies that the City was depending on are sales taxes, property taxes, international bridge fees and airport and hotel taxes. All will remain far below what was projected even in the most pessimistic models.
The retail sector is the largest economic cluster, according to the Dallas FED. (December 2018) Mexican shoppers account for about 15% of the retail sales in El Paso. About 40,000 El Paso workers are employed in the El Paso retail sector making it the second-largest job source. However, government work remains the major job driver in the city. Health services also employs about 40,000 El Pasoans. The health sector is a combination of private and government business activities. The third-largest job market in El Paso is the education sector which employs about 38,000 El Paso workers. There are 12 school districts in the city, in addition to the higher education schools.
The government sector, excluding the schools and health services, accounts for about eight percent of the jobs in the city. The City of El Paso, the County of El Paso and Customs and Border Patrol provide almost 11,000 jobs.
Already the City of El Paso has forecast possible furloughs. The school districts continue to grapple with virtual and in class teaching models. How that impacts the teaching workforce remains unsettled. Other government sectors are also under pressure to cut costs. For example, Immigration and Naturalization Services is running out of money because the fees generated from immigrants applying to enter the country have substantially dropped. Unless Congress acts, those government jobs will also be lost.
The health industry is also in flux with several private hospitals dealing with reduced revenues as the pandemic stopped most elective medical services and put pressure on the hospitals because of the pandemic emergency.
Adding to those job woes is the retail market that has been ground to a halt. Less Mexicans are shopping and local consumers are also facing financial difficulties as well. Evictions have again started in El Paso and as more families face homelessness it will add further put pressure to the economy.
All that translates to rising bankruptcies and foreclosures on real estate further driving down the values of the properties that the city relies on for property taxes.
20 Largest El Paso Employers
It is difficult to determine who the largest El Paso employers are because staffing companies have taken over as providers of jobs. Also, companies are not required to publish their staffing levels publicly. However, the following list was compiled by El Paso Politics to offer the readers a better understanding of the job situation in El Paso.
Ranked by Number of Estimated Jobs
- T&T Staff Management L.P. (5,348 estimated jobs)
- Tenet Health, (5,100 estimated jobs)
- Alorica, 1,755 (2,500 estimated jobs)
- El Paso Healthcare Systems, LTD. (2,300 estimated jobs)
- Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (1,774 estimated jobs)
- Dish Network, 1,800 (1,750 estimated jobs)
- GC Services 1,525 (1,500 estimated jobs)
- RM Personnel (1,368 estimated jobs)
- Del Sol Medical Center (1,300 estimated jobs)
- El Paso Electric Co. (1,096 estimated jobs)
- ODP Group, LLC (1,000 estimated jobs)
- West Customer Management Group (800 estimated jobs)
- Las Palmas Medical Center (800 estimated jobs)
- Union Pacific Railroad Co. Inc. (750 estimated jobs)
- Datamark (500 estimated jobs)
- Coca-Cola Enterprises (500 estimated jobs)
- Western Refining (500 estimated jobs)
- Schneider Electric (700 estimated jobs)
- Verizon Wireless (660 estimated jobs)
- Federal Mogul Powertrain, LLC (614 estimated jobs)
Sources: Hoovers, November 2014 & El Paso Economic Development, September 2016
It is likely that Fred Loya Insurance and Helen of Troy have significant job positions, but their job numbers were not readily available. In the case of Helen of Troy, its workforce is spread out through different jurisdictions making it difficult to ascertain how many jobs are available in El Paso. Because of the business structure of the insurance industry, it is also difficult to determine the number of jobs at Fred Loya.
Complicating matters more is the Top 20 Employers list that Workforce Solutions publishes. Its list of employers does not seem to correlate with job positions actually filled in El Paso. For example, the 2019 list shows the following companies.
Workforce Solutions Borderplex Top 20 Employers in the Borderplex Region
- GC Services
- Volt Workforce Solutions
- Fluid and Equipment Transport LLC
- Pilot Flying J
- ABM Janitorial
- The Job Connection
- All Temps Personnel
- Game Logistics
- Housing Authority of El Paso
- C3I Solutions – Telerex
Many of the Workforce Solutions company lists appear to be staffing companies.
Source: Workforce Solutions Borderplex press release March 21, 2019
El Paso has two publicly traded companies: Helen of Troy and Western Refining. According to the Texas Governor’s Wide Open for Business 2014 brochure, Western Refining, a public company, is the 31st largest company in Texas. It has revenues of $10 billion.
The El Paso Politics published a list of companies that received federal payroll protection monies recently.
For the taxpayers of El Paso, the job losses will ultimately translate into higher taxes as the City struggles to meet debt payments.