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State Unemployment Rate Holds Steady for Fifth Consecutive Month

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Area County Rates Show Mixed Results

By Will Johnson              

Messenger Reporter

EAST TEXAS – According to a Nov. 15 press release from the Texas Workforce Commission, “The Texas seasonally adjusted unemployment rate held steady at 3.4 percent in October 2019. This marks the fifth consecutive month of record low unemployment in the state starting in June 2019. It is the lowest unemployment rate since series tracking began in 1976.

The TWC statement also reported Texas employers added 297,100 jobs over the year. Total nonfarm annual employment growth was at 2.4 percent in October and has held at or above 2.0 percent since February 2018.

Statewide, the highest unemployment level recorded was 5.6 percent, in the 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 rate, at 2.1 percent, was in the Midland MSA. The nearest regional MSA is in the Tyler area which came in at 3.1 percent for the month of October.  

While the state numbers held steady, the unemployment rates for the contiguous counties of Houston County were a mixed bag of tricks as some went up, while other county rates went down or held steady over the month-to-month timeframe. 

In Houston County, the unemployment rate for August increased as it went from three percent in September 2019 to 3.1 percent in October 2019. The October 2019 rate was the same rate as the rate posted in October 2018.

The unemployment rate in Anderson County also increased as it went from 2.7 percent in September 2019 to 2.8 percent in October 2019.  On a positive note, the October 2019 rate was lower than the 2.9 percent rate posted in October 2018.

To the south – in Trinity County – the month-to-month rate went up as it went from 4.6 percent in September to 4.8 percent in October. The 4.8 percent rate for October 2019 was also higher than the 4.6 percent rate from October 2018.  

The October unemployment rate in Cherokee County held steady at 3.6 percent, the same as in September 2019. The October 2019 rate was, however, lower than the October 2018 rate of 3.8 percent.

The largest population center in the immediate area, Angelina County, also held steady from September to October as the rate remained at 3.9 percent. On a positive note, the October 2019 rate was lower than the 4.1 percent rate posted in October 2018.

On a month-to-month basis, in Leon County, the statistical data indicated a decrease from 4.6 percent in September to 4.4 percent in October. The recent figures, however, pointed to an increase from the October 2018 unemployment rate of 4.3 percent.

Rounding out the area counties, Madison County saw a decrease in the unemployment rate as it went from 4.3 percent in September to four percent in October 2019. The October 2019 rate was also lower than the 4.1 percent rate posted in October 2018.

In the aforementioned press release from the Texas Workforce Commission, TWC Chairman Bryan Daniel stated, “This is yet another historic moment for Texas. For the past five months, our unemployment rate has remained at a record low. It’s no surprise that our innovative businesses, hardworking labor force and strong state leadership continue to yield economic results to highlight Texas as one of the best places to work in the country.”

The media statement further indicated, “Leading job growth in October was the Trade, Transportation, and Utilities industry adding 9,700 jobs, followed by Professional and Business Services adding 6,300 jobs and Education and Health Services which added 5,300 jobs.”

TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez stated, “October Labor market data is great news for Texas workers. Their skills continue to be in high demand and more and more individuals are finding employment. These numbers are a wonderful reminder of why I am proud to be a Texan.”

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