Area County Rates Also Show Increase

By Will Johnson                                                                                                                                                                      Messenger Reporter

EAST TEXAS – The July unemployment rate in Texas rose slightly, but the Lone Star State’s economy still managed to add 23,600 non-farm jobs during the month and has added an estimated 173,000 seasonally adjusted jobs over the past year, according to data released by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). In addition, the state has added jobs in 15 of the last 16 months.

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) released its monthly unemployment statistics for July 2016 on Friday, Aug. 19 and the data showed the state’s unemployment rate going from 4.5 percent in June to 4.6 percent in July. The July unemployment rate also reflected a slight increase from July 2015 when the mark also stood at 4.4 percent.

Statewide, the highest unemployment level recorded was 8.6 percent, in the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission area. The lowest rates, at 3.6 percent, were in the Amarillo and Austin/Round Rock areas. The nearest Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is Tyler, which came in at 4.9 percent for the month of July.

An MSA is defined as a “… free-standing metropolitan area composed of one or more counties.” The Texas unemployment rate remained substantially lower than the national jobless mark of 4.9 percent and marked the 112th consecutive month the Texas rate has been below the national level.

Just as the state numbers showed an increase, all the area counties saw an increase in their unemployment statistics for the month. In Houston County, the unemployment rate for June came in at 4.6 percent, while July’s rate climbed somewhat and came in at 5.2 percent. The July 2016 rate was also up from the 4.7 percent unemployment rate posted in July 2015.

Anderson County also showed an increase in its unemployment rate. In June of 2016, the rate stood at 4.6 percent. The month of July saw the rate increase to a mark of 4.8 percent. The July 2016 unemployment rate for Anderson County was also higher than in July of 2015, when the county’s rate sat at 4.4 percent.

To the south, in Trinity County, the rise in month-to-month rates continued from June to July as the rate came in at a mark of 6.7 percent, making it the second highest rate in the immediate area. In June of 2016, the rate stood at 6.3 percent. In addition, the 6.7 percent rate for July 2016 was higher than the 6.5 percent rate of a year ago.

The unemployment rate in Cherokee County also showed a month-to-month increase, coming in at 5.8 percent for July of 2016. The June 2016 unemployment rate was 5.3 percent and in July of 2015, the county’s rate stood at 5.6 percent.

The largest population center in the immediate area, Angelina County, also showed an increase. The county’s rate increased from six percent in June to 6.4 percent in July of 2016. During July 2015, the unemployment rate stood at 6.2 percent.

Leon County continued the cycle on a month-to-month basis as the statistical data showed a rate of 7.3 percent in July 2016, which was an increase from the 6.1 percent rate posted in June. The recent figures also showed an increase from the July 2015 unemployment rate, which came in at a rate of 5.8 percent.

Rounding out the area counties, Madison County also showed an increase. The rate for July was 5.3 percent, compared to the June 2016 rate of 5.1 percent. The July 2016 rate was also higher than the 4.7 percent rate posted in July 2015.

In a press release from the Texas Workforce Commission, TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar stated, “Texas employers continued to create jobs last month in a range of industries that are important to the Texas economy. (The) TWC will continue to focus on the workforce needs of these crucial industries and build education and training partnerships that support job creation by Texas employers.”

The release further stated, “The Professional and Business Services industry recorded the largest private industry employment gain over the month with 10,000 jobs added. Construction employment expanded by 7,800 jobs in July. Education and Health Services employment increased by 7,600 jobs.”

TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs added, “Private-sector employment was strong over the year with the overall job growth of 134,000 and 24,500 jobs added in July. Texas employers continue to strengthen the job market by providing employment and training opportunities.”

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.