Area County Unemployment Rates Show Mixed Results  

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

EAST TEXAS – While the unemployment rate crept slightly upwards, the Texas economy closed the year on a high note as it was reported by the Texas Workforce Commission the state added nearly 307,000 during 2017.

According to a Jan. 19 press release from the Texas Workforce Commission, “Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.9 percent in December and remains below the U.S. unemployment rate of 4.1 percent. The Texas economy added 306,900 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs over the year, including 400 jobs added in December. Annual employment growth for Texas was 2.5 percent in December, marking 92 consecutive months of annual growth.”

The TWC press release indicated the state’s unemployment rate increased from 3.8 percent in November to 3.9 percent in December. The December 2017 mark, however, was lower than the December 2016 unemployment rate which came in at 4.8 percent.

Statewide, the highest unemployment level recorded was 5.7 percent, in the Beaumont-Port Arthur and  McAllen-Edinburg-Mission Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) areas.

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

The lowest rates, at 2.5 percent, were in the Amarillo and Midland MSAs. The nearest regional MSA is in the Tyler area which came in at 3.4 percent for the month of December.

While the state numbers showed an increase, the unemployment rates for the contiguous counties were a mixed bag over the month-to-month timeframe.

In Houston County, the unemployment rate for November 2017 came in at 3.9 percent, while the December rate decreased and came in at 3.8 percent for the month. The December 2017 rate was also lower than the 4.5 percent unemployment rate posted in December 2016.

The unemployment rate in Anderson County decreased as it went from three percent in November to 2.8 percent in December 2017.  Also on a positive note, the December 2017 rate was lower than the 3.9 percent rate posted in December 2016.

To the south – in Trinity County – the month-to-month rate also decreased as it went from 5.1 percent in November to 4.9 percent in December. The 4.9 percent rate for December 2017 was lower than the six percent rate from 2016.

The unemployment rate in Cherokee County held steady as it remained at four percent. In December. The December 2017 rate, however, was lower than the December 2016 rate of 5.1 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 4.3 percent in November to 4.2 percent in December. The Angelina County unemployment rate for December 2017 was also lower than in December 2016, when the rate stood at six percent.

On a month-to-month basis, Leon County posted the highest rate in the region. The statistical data indicated an increase from 5.5 percent in November 2017 to 5.7 percent in December 2017. The recent figures, however, pointed to a decrease from the December 2016 unemployment rate of 6.5 percent.

Rounding out the area counties, Madison County held the line on its unemployment rate as it remained at 3.9 percent, going from November to December 2017. The December 2017 rate, however, was lower than the 5.3 percent rate posted in December 2016.

In the aforementioned press release from the Texas Workforce Commission, TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar stated, “Texas ended 2017 with record-level job creation numbers during the fourth quarter, with 10 of 11 industries expanding over the year and an annual gain of 306,900 jobs. TWC looks forward to another year of strong partnerships with innovative Texas employers as they continue to create valuable opportunities for the Texas workforce and contribute to our state’s economic success.”

The media statement further indicated, “Industries adding jobs in December included: Leisure and Hospitality, which added 6,800 jobs; Construction which added 4,300 jobs; and Information, which added 3,600 jobs, and includes traditional and software publishing, data processing and hosting, and telecommunications companies.”

TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs added, “Private sector employers had a successful year in Texas, adding almost 270,000 jobs since December 2016. This growth is a great illustration of the value and opportunity that employers bring to the Texas economy.”

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at