Area County Rates Also Show Decrease 

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

EAST TEXAS – The Texas economy broke a string of 15 consecutive months with an addition of seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs in September, due in large part to Hurricane Harvey.

According to an Oct. 20 press release from the Texas Workforce Commission, “There were overall job decreases of 7,300 in September, due largely to effects from Hurricane Harvey. Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to four percent, down from 4.2 percent in August and remained below the national rate of 4.2 percent. Annual employment growth for Texas was 2.1 percent.”

The TWC press release indicated the state’s unemployment dropped from 4.2 percent in August to four percent in September. The September 2017 mark was also lower than the September 2016 unemployment rate which came in at 4.8 percent.

Statewide, the highest unemployment level recorded was 6.9 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 2.7 percent, was in the Amarillo MSA. The nearest regional MSA is in the Tyler region which came in at 3.8 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 August came in at 4.7 percent, while the September rate dropped and came in at 4.1 percent for the month. The September 2017 rate, was also lower than the 4.7 percent unemployment rate posted in September 2016.

The unemployment rate in Anderson County decreased as it went from 3.5 percent in August to 3.2 percent in September. Also on a positive note, the September 2017 rate was lower than the 4.4 percent rate posted in September 2016.

To the south – in Trinity County – the month-to-month rate also decreased from 5.8 percent in August to 5.5 percent in September. The 5.5 percent rate for September 2017 was also lower than the 6.6 percent rate from a year ago.

The unemployment rate in Cherokee County came in at 4.8 percent for August, while the September rate decreased and came in at 4.2 percent for the month. The September 2017 rate was also lower than the September 2016 rate of 5.3 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 5.2 percent in August to 4.5 percent in September. The Angelina County unemployment rate for September 2017 was lower than in September 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 a decrease from 6.9 percent in August 2017 to 5.8 percent in September 2017. The recent figures further pointed to a decrease from the September 2016 unemployment rate of 6.9 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 August 2017 but decreased to 4.3 percent in September 2017. The September 2017 rate was also lower than the 5.2 percent rate posted in September 2016.

In the aforementioned press release from the Texas Workforce Commission, TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar stated, “Hurricane Harvey impacted overall job numbers in September, but the dynamic Texas economy has created jobs in 10 of 11 industries over the year. TWC remains focused on building and deploying all partnerships necessary to support the rebuilding of our communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey and to put our fellow Texans back to work.”

The media statement further indicated, “Employment in the Professional and Business Services industry increased by 5,900 jobs in September. Over the year, this industry has gained 41,700 jobs. Financial Activities employment expanded by 5,000 jobs. These gains were offset by losses in other industries including Leisure and Hospitality which lost 21,300 jobs.”

TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs added, “Texas’ economic growth is boosted by the resilience of our employers who have added 230,300 private-sector jobs over the past year. TWC is committed to ensuring our state resources and services are provided to help get Texans get back to work after the devastating impacts of Hurricane Harvey.”

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