Most Area County Rates Also Show Decline

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

EAST TEXAS – The Texas economy expanded for the 14th consecutive month with the addition of 5,500 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs in August. Annual employment growth for Texas was 2.5 percent, which was more than double the annual growth rate when compared to last year.

The TWC released its monthly unemployment statistics for August 2017 on Friday, Sept. 15 and the data showed the state’s unemployment dropped from 4.3 percent in July to 4.2 percent in August. The August 2017 mark was also lower than the August 2016 unemployment rate which came in at 4.7 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 rate, at 3.1 percent, was in the Amarillo MSA. The nearest regional MSA is in the Tyler region which came in at 4.1 percent for the month of August.

While the state numbers showed a decrease, the unemployment rates for the majority of the contiguous counties increased over the month-to-month timeframe.

In Houston County, the unemployment rate for July came in at 4.7 percent, while the August rate held steady and also came in at 4.7 percent for the month. The August 2017 rate, however, was slightly higher than the 4.6 percent unemployment rate posted in August 2016.

The unemployment rate in Anderson County decreased as it went from 3.7 percent in July to 3.6 percent in August. Also on a positive note, the August 2017 rate was lower than the 4.7 percent rate posted in August 2016.

To the south – in Trinity County – the month-to-month rate increased from 5.4 percent in July to 5.9 percent in August. The 5.9 percent rate for August 2017, however, was lower than the 6.6 percent rate from a year ago.

The unemployment rate in Cherokee County came in at 4.6 percent for July, while the August rate increased and came in at 4.7 percent for the month. The August 2017 rate was lower than the August 2016 rate of 5.4 percent.

The largest population center in the immediate area, Angelina County, showed an incline in the rate on a month-to-month basis as the figures revealed the unemployment rate increasing from 5.1 percent in July to 5.2 percent in July. The Angelina County unemployment rate for August 2017 was lower than in August of 2016, when the rate stood at 6.5 percent.

On a month-to-month basis, Leon County posted the highest rate in the region. The statistical data indicated an increase from 6.3 percent in July 2017 to 6.8 percent in August 2017. The recent figures, however, pointed to a decrease from the August 2016 unemployment rate of 6.9 percent.

Rounding out the area counties, Madison County continued the trend and showed an increase in the unemployment rate. The rate was 5.1 in July 2017 but increased to 5.2 percent in August 2017. The August 2017 rate was lower than the 5.4 percent rate posted in July 2016.

In the aforementioned press release from the Texas Workforce Commission, TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar stated, “Texas employers added 298,600 jobs over the year in the diverse and competitive Texas economy. TWC is dedicated to building and deploying the partnerships necessary to support the rebuilding of our Texas communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey and to put our fellow Texans back to work.”

The media statement further indicated, “The Trade, Transportation, and Utilities Industry recorded the largest private-industry gain over the month with 9,100 jobs added. Construction expanded by 2,600 jobs, adding 15,200 jobs over the year. Manufacturing saw an increase of 2,200 jobs in August, representing a 4.2 percent employment growth rate over the year, the industry’s highest annual growth rate since March 2012.”

TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs added, “Private-sector employment was strong over the year with an increase in overall jobs of 270,800, including 4,400 jobs added in August. After the devastating impacts of Hurricane Harvey, TWC and our Workforce Solutions partners are committed to ensuring our state resources and services are provided to impacted Texas businesses, individuals, and communities to help get Texans get back to work and regain their lives.”

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