By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

EAST TEXAS – The November unemployment rate in Texas fell slightly and the Lone Star State’s economy added 20,900 jobs during the month. The state has also added jobs in 19 of the last 20 months, according to data released by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC).

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) released its monthly unemployment statistics for November 2016 on Friday, Dec. 16 and the data showed the state’s unemployment rate going from 4.7 percent in October to 4.6 percent in November. In addition, the November 2016 mark was the same as unemployment rate posted in November 2015.

Statewide, the highest unemployment level recorded was 7.1 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 rates, at three percent, were in the Amarillo, Austin/Round Rock and Lubbock MSAs. The nearest MSA in the immediate area is Tyler, which came in at 4.2 percent for the month of November.

The Texas unemployment rate was the same as the national jobless rate of 4.6 percent and marked the 116th consecutive month the Texas rate has been at or below the national level.

Just as the state numbers showed a decline, the unemployment rate for all but one of the surrounding counties also showed a decrease.

In Houston County, the unemployment rate for October came in at 4.5 percent, while November’s rate dropped and came in at 4.4 percent for the month. The November 2016 rate was also lower than the 4.7 percent unemployment rate posted in November 2015.

The unemployment rate in Anderson County showed a decrease as the numbers went from four percent in October to 3.8 percent in November. The November 2016 rate was also lower than the 4.1 percent rate posted in November 2015.

To the south, in Trinity County, the month-to-month rate showed a decrease from October to November as the rate went from 5.8 percent to 5.7 percent. In addition, the 5.7 percent rate for November 2016 was lower than the 6.1 percent rate from a year ago.

The revised unemployment rate in Cherokee County decreased from October to November as it fell from a mark of 4.9 percent to 4.7 percent. The November 2016 unemployment rate was also slightly lower than in November of 2015 when the county’s rate stood at five percent.

The largest population center in the immediate area, Angelina County, also showed a decline in the rate on a month-to-month basis as the figures showed the unemployment rate falling from 5.9 percent in October to a mark of 5.6 percent in November. The Angelina County unemployment rate for last month was also lower than in November of 2015, when the rate stood at 5.9 percent.

While Leon County posted the highest rate in the region, on a month-to- month basis, the statistical data indicated a drop from 6.5 percent in October 2016 to 6.1 percent in November 2016. The recent figures, however, revealed an increase from the November 2015 unemployment rate of 5.7 percent.

Rounding out the area counties, Madison County was the only area county to show an increase in the unemployment rate. The rate was 4.4 percent in October 2016 and inched upwards to 4.5 percent in November 2016 and was the same as the rate posted in November 2015.

In the aforementioned press release from the Texas Workforce Commission, TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar stated, “I am encouraged by our state’s continued job growth, with Texas employers adding jobs in nine of 11 industries over the past year. TWC will continue to focus on the workforce needs of our diverse industries and build education and training partnerships that support jobs created by Texas employers.”

The release further stated, “The Leisure and Hospitality industry recorded the largest private-industry employment gain over the month with 5,700 jobs added. Education and Health Services employment grew by 4,700 jobs in November, and Construction employment expanded by 2,500 jobs.”

TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs added, “Private-sector employment has been strong over the year with the overall job growth of 171,800 including 15,800 jobs added in November. The fact that our state has added jobs for 19 of the last 20 months is a credit to the diversity and resilience of employers in Texas.”

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