By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

EAST TEXAS – The Texas economy expanded for the 13th consecutive month with the addition of 19,600 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs in July. Annual employment growth for Texas was 2.4 percent, which was double the annual growth rate as compared to a year ago.

The TWC released its monthly unemployment statistics for July 2017 on Friday, Aug. 18 and the data showed the state’s unemployment dropped from 4.6 percent in June to 4.3 percent in July. The July 2017 mark was also slightly lower than the July 2016 unemployment rate which came in at 4.7 percent.

Statewide, the highest unemployment level recorded was 7.7 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 3.9 percent for the month of July.

Just as the state numbers showed a decrease, the unemployment rates for all but one of the area counties decreased over the month-to-month timeframe.

In Houston County, the unemployment rate for June came in at 4.3 percent, while the July rate increased and came in at 4.7 percent for the month. The July 2017 rate, however, was lower than the five percent unemployment rate posted in July 2016.

The unemployment rate in Anderson County decreased as it went from four percent in June to 3.7 percent in July. Also on a positive note, the July 2017 rate was lower than the 4.8 percent rate posted in July 2016.

To the south – in Trinity County – the month-to-month rate decreased from 5.7 percent in June to 5.4 percent in July. The 5.4 percent rate for July 2017 was also lower than the 6.6 percent rate from a year ago.   

The unemployment rate in Cherokee County came in at 4.9 percent for June, while the July rate decreased and came in at 4.6 percent for the month. The July 2017 rate was also lower than the July 2016 rate of 5.6 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 decreasing from 5.6 percent in June to 5.1 percent in July. The Angelina County unemployment rate for July 2017 was also lower than in July of 2016, when the rate stood at 6.4 percent.

On a month-to-month basis, Leon County posted the highest rate in the region. The statistical data indicated a decrease from 6.8 percent in June 2017 to 6.3 percent in July 2017. The recent figures also pointed to a decrease from the July 2016 unemployment rate of 7.1 percent.

Rounding out the area counties, Madison County continued the trend and showed a decrease in the unemployment rate. The rate was 5.3 in June 2017 but decreased to 5.1 percent in July 2017. The July rate was also lower than the six percent rate posted in July 2016.

In the aforementioned press release from the Texas Workforce Commission, TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar stated, “Texas employers created 293,400 jobs over the past year and the dynamic Texas economy continues to provide competitive advantages to employers across the state. TWC will continue to focus on the workforce needs of our growing industries and build partnerships that enhance the skills of our world class workforce.”

The media statement further indicated, “The Leisure and Hospitality Industry recorded the largest private-industry gain over the month with 7,000 jobs added. Financial Activities expanded by 5,200 jobs and recorded a 3.6 percent annual growth rate—the industry’s highest since August 2013. Professional and Business Services saw an increase of 5,000 jobs in July.”

TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs added, ““Texas employers continue to keep our state’s economy strong with private-sector employment expanding over the year with overall job-growth of 266,000 including 20,500 jobs added in July. 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.