By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

EAST TEXAS – The May unemployment rate in Texas fell slightly with the addition of 14,800 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs. The state has also added jobs in 25 of the last 26 months, according to data released by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC).

The TWC released its monthly unemployment statistics for May 2017 on Friday, June 16 and the data showed the state’s unemployment dropped from five percent in April to 4.8 percent in May.  The May 2017 mark was, however, slightly higher than the May 2016 unemployment rate which came in at 4.7 percent.

Statewide, the highest unemployment level recorded was 7.5 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 rate, at 3.1 percent, was in the Amarillo MSA. The nearest regional MSA is located in Tyler and came in at 4.1 percent for the month of May.

While the state numbers showed an increase, the unemployment rates for the surrounding counties were a mixture of static rates, decreases and increases over the month-to-month timeframe.

In Houston County, the unemployment rate for April came in at 4.2 percent, while the May rate decreased and came in at 4.1 percent for the month. The May 2017 rate was also lower than the 4.2 percent unemployment rate posted in April 2016.

The unemployment rate in Anderson County also dropped as it fell from 3.7 percent in April to 3.6 percent in May. In addition, the May 2017 rate was lower than the four percent rate posted in May 2016.

To the south, in Trinity County, the month-to-month rate fell from 6.3 percent in April to 5.8 percent in May. The 5.8 percent rate for May 2017 was also lower than the 6.1 percent rate from a year ago.

The unemployment rate in Cherokee County came in at 4.7 percent for April, while the May rate decreased and came in at 4.6 percent for the month. The May 2017 rate was also lower than May 2016 rate of 4.8 percent.

The largest population center in the immediate area, Angelina County, showed a decline in the rate on a month-to-month basis as the figures revealed the unemployment rate dropping from 5.7 percent in April to 5.4 percent in May. The Angelina County unemployment rate for May 2017, however, was higher than in May of 2016, when the rate stood at 5.3 percent.

On a month-to-month basis, Leon County posted the highest rate in the region. The statistical data indicated a decrease from 6.9 percent in April 2017 to 6.5 percent in May 2017. The recent figures, however, pointed to an increase from the May 2016 unemployment rate of 6.1 percent.

Rounding out the area counties, Madison County continued the trend and showed a decrease in the unemployment rate. The rate was 5.1 in April 2017 but dropped to 4.7 percent in May 2017. The May rate was also lower than the 4.8 percent rate posted in April 2016.

In the aforementioned press release from the Texas Workforce Commission, TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar stated, “Texas employers created 266,600 jobs over the past year and the Texas economy continues to provide competitive advantages to large and small business owners across the state. TWC remains committed to fostering innovative partnerships that equip Texas students and workers with in-demand skills.”

The media statement further indicated, “Mining and Logging recorded the largest private-industry gain over the month with 6,600 jobs added. Construction employment grew by 3,400 jobs in May and Financial Activities employment expanded by 3,200 jobs.”

TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs added, “Employers in Texas have created more than 233,200 private-sector jobs over the year, including 11,100 jobs in May. We want to ensure all Texas employers have the resources they need to continue to grow their businesses, and I encourage employers to take advantage of the TWC programs we offer to help them create jobs and train workers with the skills needed for today’s job market.”

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