By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

EAST TEXAS – The September unemployment rate in Texas rose slightly, but the Lone Star State’s economy still managed to add 38,300 jobs during the month and has added jobs in 17 of the last 18 months, according to data released by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC).

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) released its monthly unemployment statistics for September 2016 on Friday, Sept. 21 and the data showed the state’s unemployment rate going from 4.7 percent in August to 4.8 percent in September. The September unemployment rate also reflected an increase from September 2015 when the mark also stood at 4.5 percent.

Statewide, the highest unemployment level recorded was eight percent, in the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) area.

An MSA is defined as a “… free-standing metropolitan area composed of one or more counties.”

The lowest rates, at 3.5 percent, were in the Amarillo and the Austin/Round Rock MSAs. The nearest MSA in the immediate area is Tyler, which came in at five percent for the month of September.

The Texas unemployment rate remained lower than the national jobless mark of five percent and marked the 114th consecutive month the Texas rate has been below the national level.

While the state numbers showed an increase, the unemployment rate for surrounding counties was a mixed bag as some saw a decrease, while others showed an increase and still others held steady. In Houston County, the revised unemployment rate for August came in at five percent, while September’s rate rose slightly and came in at 5.1 percent for the month. The September 2016 rate was also up from the 4.4 percent unemployment rate posted in September 2015.

The unemployment rate in Anderson County showed a decrease as the numbers went from 4.8 percent in August to 4.5 percent in September. The September 2016 unemployment rate for Anderson County, however, was higher than in September of 2015, when the county’s rate sat at 3.8 percent.

To the south, in Trinity County, the month-to-month rate showed an increase from August to September as the rate went from 6.7 percent to 6.8 percent, making it the second highest jobless market in the immediate area. In addition, the 6.8 percent rate for September 2016 was higher than the six percent rate from a year ago.

The revised unemployment rate in Cherokee County held steady from August to September as it remained at a mark of 5.6 percent. The September 2016 unemployment rate was slightly higher than in September of 2015 when the county’s rate stood at 5.2 percent.

The largest population center in the immediate area, Angelina County, also maintained the same rate on a month-to-month basis as the figures indicated a mark of 6.6 percent in Septembers. The Angelina County unemployment rate for last month, however, was higher than in September of 2015, when the rate stood at 5.7 percent.

While Leon County posted the highest rate in the region, on a month-to- month basis, the statistical data indicated a drop from 7.3 percent in August 2016 to 7.2 percent in September 2016. The recent figures, however, revealed an increase from the September 2015 unemployment rate of 5.5 percent.

Rounding out the area counties, Madison County showed a decrease in unemployment rates. The rate for September was 4.7 percent, compared to the August 2016 rate of 4.8 percent. The September 2016 rate, however, was higher than the 4.1 percent rate posted in September 2015.

In the aforementioned press release from the Texas Workforce Commission, TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar stated, “Texas employers continue demonstrating their competitiveness by adding 38,300 jobs in September, for a total of 206,800 jobs added over the year. This continued growth in a diverse range of industries creates valuable opportunities for our state’s world-class workforce and builds on Texas’ continued success as a global economic leader.”

The release further stated, “The Leisure and Hospitality industry recorded the largest industry employment gain over the month with 17,900 jobs added. Professional and Business services employment grew by 6,000 jobs in September. Construction employment expanded for the third consecutive month with the addition of 3,400 jobs.”

TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs added, “Private-sector employment was strong over the year with the overall job growth of 162,600 and 31,600 jobs added in September. Texas is a state that continues to welcome new employers and work with our homegrown businesses, offering them the tools they need to grow and succeed.”

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