Skip to main content
A1 A1
Ryan wide receiver Jordyn Bailey commits to TCU, will join older brother and former Ryan star Emani Bailey

The Bailey household made quite a few recruiting waves on Sunday afternoon.

It all started at 12:17 p.m. when former Ryan High School running back and University of Louisiana-Lafayette star Emani Bailey announced via his Twitter account that he is transferring to Texas Christian University for the upcoming season via the transfer portal. Twenty-four minutes later, his younger brother and current Ryan High wide receiver, Jordyn, also announced on Twitter his commitment to the Horned Frogs.

Jordyn, a junior, also had offers from North Texas, Houston, Memphis and Colorado, per 247Sports.

“I already had an offer from TCU, so one of the coaches had called me to talk,” Jordyn said. “That’s when he said he wanted my brother to come there. I told him, ‘Man, if you get my brother, you’ve got me.’ [Emani] decided to go into the portal, and the rest is history.

“It’s hard to relax. It’s hard to believe right now.”

Emani agreed, joking that the Bailey brothers plan to change the world.

“It’s a dream come true. This is something Jordyn and I have been talking about since we were little,” Emani said. “We grew up learning the game together, and now we have a chance to be on the same team together. It’s just too good to be true.”

Emani, a second-year freshman who last played for Ryan in 2019, rushed for 702 yards and eight touchdowns in two seasons at Louisiana. He played in just five games last season but didn’t lose a year of eligibility because of the COVID-19 blanket waiver. In three varsity seasons at Ryan, he rushed for 4,233 yards and 53 touchdowns. He also scored six times as a receiver out of the backfield.

He averaged no less than seven yards per carry in each of those seasons and saved his best season for last by rushing for 1,695 yards (10.5 yards per carry) and 24 touchdowns while guiding Ryan to the Class 5A Division I title game.

He never got a chance to play with his younger brother, though. Jordyn burst onto the scene as a sophomore in 2020, catching 31 balls for 510 yards and seven touchdowns as Ryan went 15-0 and won the Class 5A Division I state championship. He shouldered a heavier load in 2021, catching 65 passes for 723 yards and six scores. He also added a rushing touchdown.

Ryan advanced to the Region II final before losing to College Station.

“We are ready to put in the work. Emani has the chance to go show what he can really do,” Jordyn said. “This is so exciting. TCU was always at the top, but having Emani make his decision helped me go with my heart. Those Bailey boys got to stick together.”

A red-shouldered hawk rests on a tree near a creek in Cross Roads recently.

LEFT: A red-shouldered hawk rests on a tree near a creek in Cross Roads recently. BOTTOM : A pair of red-shouldered hawks perch on a light pole above the concrete path around South Lakes Park on a cold and misty day.

2021 shattered job market records, but it's not as good as it looks

WASHINGTON — While the labor market began 2021 in a deep hole, huge numbers of Americans found work amid the pandemic, with a record-breaking 6.4 million jobs added over the course of last year, eclipsing all expectations.

Rank-and-file workers’ hourly paychecks rose by $1.46 an hour, another record-breaking number. Gains were especially pronounced for those in lower-paying industries.

It was, by these measures and many others, the best year in labor-market history, ignited in part by aggressive stimulus spending that pushed consumer spending to stratospheric levels. But the numbers on their own can be downright misleading.

The 6.4 million jobs gained this year, while a record in absolute terms, represents only a 4.5% increase in the workforce. That’s smaller than the 5.0% growth seen in 1978, when a much smaller labor force added 4.3 million jobs. In fact, relative to the size of the workforce, it’s only the 11th best calendar year since record-keeping began in 1939.

This year’s numbers are also distorted because the recovery isn’t complete. As a rule, the labor market has a much easier time regaining lost jobs than it does creating new ones. The economy lost 22.4 million jobs at the height of coronavirus lockdowns. When you account for the 12.3 million jobs regained in 2020 as businesses reopened, plus the 6.4 million added in 2021, the economy is still missing 3.6 million jobs (the numbers may not match perfectly due to rounding). And that would just bring it back to pre-recession levels.

To catch up with population growth, the economy needs 5 million more jobs, according to economist Elise Gould of the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank. Before the recession, jobs were growing faster than population. To reach levels where employment would have been, had pre-pandemic job growth trends continued, the U.S. would have to add 8 million jobs, Gould says. And that will only get harder as federal stimulus programs run out.

The easiest gains that propelled eye-popping months like million-job July are now off the table. Last December, there were still 3.1 million workers on temporary layoff who could be called back to their employers. This December, that pool of temporarily laid-off workers had fallen to 812,000. That’s below its 2019 average and dropping at a steady clip. Employers who still need workers will have to cast a wider net and look at workers with less-relevant experience or try to woo workers with flexibility, like opportunities for remote work or more control of their schedules.

As a result, Americans are experiencing a surge in job security. There are more job openings per jobseeker than there have been at any other time since the government started keeping track in 2000, said University of Minnesota economist Aaron Sojourner, who worked in the White House during the Obama and Trump administrations. The number of part-time workers who want full-time work continues to fall rapidly, as employers are asking staff to work longer hours.

One common thread between worker leverage and the slowing job growth in recent months? The number of available workers remains low. More than 1.5 million Americans have retired earlier than expected during the pandemic, and hundreds of thousands more have left the labor force for other reasons, including child care and health worries.

The share of Americans working or looking for work plunged during the pandemic and remains near levels not seen since the 1970s, when many women were still working at home and had yet to join the official labor force.

Employers who can’t find workers may look to automation to fill the gap. Ohio pipemaker Advanced Drainage Systems saw record sales in the most recent quarter but couldn’t keep its production lines running full time due to labor shortages, said CEO Donald Scott Barbour on a recent earnings call. Barbour mentioned the company was pursing “all kinds of other projects of automation” at a manufacturing facility in Kentucky, so they could meet demand without big increases in hiring.

Even the most careful headline numbers hide that not all groups of Americans have recovered equally. Asian American workers have already regained all the jobs they lost during the downturn, and their Hispanic peers are close, but white and Black workers remain farther behind. Black women, in particular, still have 4.5% fewer workers than they did before the pandemic began. White women have 2.3% fewer.

“The pandemic exacerbated existing labor market inequities,” wrote Nela Richardson, ADP’s chief economist, in a recent blog post. “Low-skilled workers took the brunt of job losses. The recovery has been slowest for people of color and women. Women also are disproportionately shouldering added family responsibility and suffering bigger pay gaps.”

Like the jobs numbers, the wage gains of 2021 also tend to wilt under scrutiny. A record $1.46-an-hour raise brought pay for the average rank-and-file worker to $26.61.

That 5.8% increase is still the biggest annual raise workers have seen in 40 years, since the last big (7.2%) bump in 1981. Relative to the size of their paychecks, workers saw a bigger raise every year from 1971 to 1981 than they did in 2021.

As in the 1970s, workers’ raises look even worse this year after accounting for inflation. Prices grew 6.8% in the year ending in November, the most recent data out. To put it another way, workers’ earnings have actually lost ground as supply-chain issues, the pandemic and swollen savings accounts drive up the cost of living at a pace not seen in decades.

The highest wage gains tended to go to workers in the lowest-paid industries, according to a Washington Post analysis of Labor Department data. For workers in those industries, like nonmanagerial gas station workers who saw pay jump 14.1% to $14.72 an hour, wage gains have stayed ahead of rising prices. The fastest gains of any subsector went to nonmanagerial hotel workers, who saw pay climb 22.5% to $18.90 an hour, as employers were forced to pay more for some jobs that leave workers exposed to the still-virulent coronavirus.

The global pandemic, of course, stalked the 2021 labor market from start to finish. The numbers in December’s report were measured in the middle of the month, before the Omicron variant ignited a record-breaking acceleration in COVID-19 cases. If the latest affected the labor market like the Delta variant did — an impact that’s far from guaranteed — it likely won’t show up until next month’s numbers.

So, as we etch 2021 into the record books, remember that we do so with a big, spiky coronavirus-shaped asterisk. It was a year in which everything moved fast, but nothing was ever as simple as it seemed.

Bare rooms, rotten fruit and boredom: Quarantine life on infected cruises

Frank Rebelo lined up the upgrades well before he boarded his Caribbean cruise: the dining package that would let him eat at high-end restaurants, the beverage package that would keep the drinks flowing. But after contracting COVID-19 and isolating in a designated cabin, he had to order off the room service menu: turkey sandwich, pizza, burgers and three choices for dessert.

“They were like, ‘We’re going to give you the minimum you need to survive,’” said Rebelo, 54, who owns a small trucking company and works as a DJ while splitting his time between Tijuana and Las Vegas.

His nine-night voyage on the Norwegian Getaway late last month went awry after a coronavirus surge sent cases soaring to record heights on land and at sea. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cruise lines sailing in U.S. waters reported 5,013 coronavirus cases between Dec. 15 and Dec. 29, about 30 times more than the total from the previous two weeks.

On Dec. 31, the CDC escalated its travel warning for cruises to Level 4, advising against cruise travel even for the vaccinated. By that time, it was too late for Rebelo and thousands of others to heed the message.

Although passengers must follow strict rules to cruise — with the vast majority of people onboard vaccinated and everyone required to test negative — infections have slipped through. As positive cases mount, passengers and crew have coped with less-than-ideal accommodations. Many interviewed by The Washington Post reported long waits for service, hours without water, bare-bones food and confusion over when and who to test — even as most ships maintain their course.

For customers such as Rebelo, waiting on room service when they paid for premium options can feel like an indignity. For crew, quarantine can be even more difficult — even without getting sick.

One crew member on Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas, who did not want her name published because she is still employed by the company, said she was sent to “soft quarantine” after having contact with someone who tested positive. That means she was allowed to work but required to spend the rest of her time in her room.

She said one day she found her lunch outside her door as workers were fogging the hallway with cleaning chemicals. She decided not to eat the food.

“One night my dinner was like just a box of rice. Nothing else. Not even a roll or a vegetable,” she said. “Just rice. I was like, cool, glad I have a box of Pop Tarts in my room.”

A former member of the cruise director staff on Oasis, Ovation and Harmony of the Seas said he tested positive for coronavirus recently and was served food in quarantine that seemed inedible to him. He declined to have his name used because of concerns about endangering future job prospects.

He provided pictures that showed a rotting orange; a small seafood salad in a box with a slice of watermelon; and a box with a scoop of white rice, a hard-boiled egg and a paltry pile of corned beef hash.

“It would be different if I worked for, like, a construction company that doesn’t know anything about how to prepare food,” he said. Royal Caribbean did not address questions about meals it provides to quarantining crew members.

Aboard the Norwegian Encore, however, passenger Kelly Araujo said she and her mother took solace in room service deliveries. The 18-year-old student at Duke University said she could order anything available from the dining rooms to her quarantine room. She ate lava cake with a molten chocolate center every night.

Araujo and her mother spent four days in a windowless room without seeing sunlight. They would nap, watch TV or scroll online, losing track of the hours.

“It just felt like one really, really, really long day,” Araujo said. “Even when we’d wake up, we would do the same thing the next day.”

During part of a three-week sailing on the Seabourn Ovation, Barry Kluger was exiled to the quarantine floor. The 68-year-old retired public relations executive missed his wife, he said, getting to see her only when she would visit a balcony near his and talk to him through an opening in a wall. Kluger, who was vaccinated, boosted and previously infected, had an asymptomatic case. He spent most of his lonely days online, posting updates about his quarantine on social media. On New Year’s Eve, he wore a tux, ordered champagne and rang in 2022 with his wife over Zoom.

Kluger said the crew, to their credit, did their best to entertain him. The cruise director brought him trivia and board games. His meals, although served on disposable plates, looked elaborate: Two enormous shrimp on a bed of greens and dollops of sauces, grilled prawns with roasted autumnal vegetables, an assortment of mussels and octopus over yellow rice.

“Cruise lines didn’t create COVID,” he said. “Everyone’s trying to feel their way through it.”

Araujo, the college student who enjoyed nightly lava cake, said within three days of her family’s Norwegian sailing, her mother started feeling nauseated. The family thought it was motion sickness at first.

“When we tested positive, it was like they didn’t know what to do,” she said of the company. “It was like they had not thought that anyone was going to test positive.”

Araujo, whose father tested negative, said staff told her she and her mother were the only people to test positive, but she wondered how many other guests carried the virus without getting a test. Initially, her family was told they would disembark together on the U.S. Virgin Islands. Instead, they stayed on and split up so she and her mother could quarantine.

On the Norwegian Getaway, Rebelo said he had to argue to receive a test after he developed a cough and chills.

“They grilled me,” Rebelo said. “They did not want to know. If you were firm with them, and I was, they came up and tested.”

He said he and other infected passengers on the Dec. 27 cruise tried to provide information about their close contacts on the ship, but “they would not take it down.” The ship’s next sailing was canceled.

In response to questions about his claims, Norwegian sent a link to its protocols, which say the company has “various contact tracing methodologies to identify and notify those who may have been exposed.”

Rebelo said the cruise companies are promoting their safety precautions before people board but should be doing more before they return to land. The CDC doesn’t require disembarkation testing for fully vaccinated passengers.

“You’ve been cruising around in this petri dish for 10 days,” he said. “Shouldn’t you have to test before you can go back on land?”

Graphic designer Mike Ratliff, 33, found out his 4-year-old daughter had contracted COVID because she had to get tested before the end of the cruise on the Harmony of the Seas, as Royal Caribbean requires for unvaccinated kids on trips that are five nights or longer.

His daughter had been feeling a little tired and had a cough, but he said those symptoms didn’t seem out of the ordinary, especially several days into a busy cruise.

Then Ratliff found out she was positive. He thought the rest of his group — three older kids, his wife and parents, all vaccinated — would have to isolate because everyone had been exposed.

But Ratliff said only he had to isolate because he took his daughter to get tested; his wife had to persuade staff to let her join with their 6-year-old son because she did not want to be separated from her ill, youngest child. No one else in the group was tested on the ship.

He said his father even followed up with officials on board to make sure they didn’t need to quarantine or get tested. According to Royal Caribbean International spokeswoman Lyan Sierra-Caro, passengers identified as a close contact less than 24 hours before to the end of the cruise are supposed to quarantine but are not tested on board.

During the day and a half left of the Western Caribbean sailing, Ratliff started documenting his experience with videos on TikTok, calling the account “Cruising With Covid.”

”5-Star Service” he wrote on one video where he got what sounded like a busy signal as he tried to reach room service for food and water.

”This is absolutely awful,” he says.

Sierra-Caro said passengers are provided with free bottled water and room service.

Ratliff said it took at least an hour to reach room service, and then another hour to get food delivered. After the first meal, he said, he made the mistake of throwing out empty water bottles, realizing too late that there was no way to collect water from the sink to drink. His efforts to get more water sent to the room were fruitless before dinner, which he said arrived nearly three hours after they ordered it and was “super cold.”

After Ratliff and his wife drove their four kids home from Central Florida’s Port Canaveral, everyone in the family got sick. His parents tested positive, but his immediate family didn’t even bother getting tested.

While Ratliff said his family knew cruising came with risk of COVID, he was disappointed with the way they were treated after his daughter tested positive.

”It was just frustrating that they weren’t able to meet basic needs,” he said. “We’re still a guest on the ship that we paid money to be on.”

Even though some shows and events got canceled because of staffing issues, Ratliff said it was a good cruise early on, with stops in Cozumel, Costa Maya and Roatan.

”We had a good time up until we didn’t,” he said.

David Beyer, a 68-year-old travel adviser from Colorado, tested positive Dec. 30, eight days after boarding the Celebrity Equinox for the “ultimate Southern Caribbean cruise.”

Beyer developed a slight cough before he woke up “not feeling good at all.” After waiting hours for a test and results, he relocated from his cabin to an isolation room a couple of floors down.

The new room was a “stripped-down” version of the original, Beyer said, with just a bar of soap in the shower, no tissues and no bath mat.

”If I’d had hair I needed to shampoo, I would’ve been [out of luck]” he said. “Thank goodness I’m bald.”

His husband, Don McCleary, kept their original room because he had tested negative; McCleary said he planned to get tested again this week because he had COVID symptoms.

Until the ship returned to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Jan. 3, Beyer passed the time talking on the phone, playing games on his cellphone, watching TV and gazing at the sea from the balcony. He was able to order from the dining room menu, though the process to obtain the lukewarm food that arrived in paper boxes left a lot to be desired.

”Sometimes I was dialing upward of nine to 10 times to get through,” he said. “I think it was just so many people they were just overwhelmed, and it took a long time.”

After a Caribbean cruise on the Celebrity Reflection, Elizabeth Seguin is stuck in quarantine in Miami for two weeks before she can make it home to Quebec. The 23-year-old disembarked on Jan. 2 for a trip that was supposed to be a respite from lockdown in the cold Canadian province.

Within her group of three families, eight people tested positive on the ship, Seguin said. She wishes she knew how many passengers in total were infected.

”We would hear the announcement every morning, like, ‘It’s New Year’s Eve. I hope you have a good new year,’” she said, “and that kind of sucked, because we were stuck and couldn’t participate in all of that.”

Still, Seguin said she thought it was just as safe on a cruise as it would be in plenty of environments on land.

”When you go to a hotel, they don’t ask for your vaccination, they don’t ask for negative tests,” she said. “If you go to a concert, or you go to a festival, you can still get COVID.”