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Unemployment Rate Creeps Upward in December

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Area County Rates Show Mixed Results

By Will Johnson              

Messenger Reporter

EAST TEXAS – According to a Jan. 24 press release from the Texas Workforce Commission, “In December the seasonally adjusted Texas unemployment rate was 3.5 percent, up a tenth of a percentage point from 3.4 percent in November 2019. Texas added 29,800 jobs over the month. In 2019, Texas set a record for the lowest unemployment rate since series tracking began in 1976.”

The TWC statement also reported Texas employers added 342,800 jobs over the year. Total nonfarm annual employment growth was at 2.7 percent in December and has held at or above 2.0 percent since February 2018.

Statewide, the highest unemployment level recorded was seven 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 December.  

While the state numbers went up slightly, the unemployment rates for the contiguous counties of Houston County were fairly positive. Most counties showed a decrease in their unemployment rates while others held steady over the month-to-month timeframe. 

In Houston County, the unemployment rate for December stayed the same as it was in November 2019 – 3.1 percent. The December 2019 unemployment rate was lower than the December 2018 rate of 3.3 percent.

The unemployment rate in Anderson County also remained the same as it stayed at 2.8 percent from November to December 2019. On a positive note, the December 2019 rate was lower than the three percent rate posted in December 2018.

To the south – in Trinity County – the month-to-month rate went down as it went from 5.2 percent in November to 5.1 percent in December. The 5.1 percent rate for December 2019 was slightly higher than the five percent rate from December 2018.  

The December unemployment rate in Cherokee County went down as it went from 3.8 percent in November to 3.7 percent in December. The 3.7 percent rate for December 2019 was also lower than the four percent rate from December 2018

The largest population center in the immediate area, Angelina County, saw the unemployment rate drop slightly as it went from four percent in November to 3.9 percent in December. Also on a positive note, the December 2019 rate was lower than the 4.2 percent rate posted in December 2018.

On a month-to-month basis, in Leon County, the statistical data indicated a decrease from 4.3 percent in November to 4.1 percent in December. The recent figures also pointed to a decrease from the December 2018 unemployment rate of 4.5 percent.

Rounding out the area counties, Madison County saw a decrease in the unemployment rate as it went from 3.9 percent in November to 3.8 percent in December 2019. The December 2019 rate was also lower than the four percent rate posted in December 2018.

In the aforementioned press release from the Texas Workforce Commission, TWC Chairman Bryan Daniel stated, “As we reflect on 2019, it is clear that it was a strong year for the Texas economy thanks to the continued leadership of Gov. Abbott, and the hard work of our Texas workforce and employers. Our current economic climate creates opportunities for our skilled workforce and success for employers. We look forward to continued growth in our great state throughout 2020.”

The media statement further indicated, “Leading monthly job growth in December was the Trade, Transportation, and Utilities industry adding 11,600 jobs, followed by the Professional and Business Services sector adding 10,500 jobs, and Financial Activities which added 6,700 jobs.”

TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez stated, “Our workforce continues to grow and is now 14,188,100 Texans strong. My office is committed to ensuring each and every member of our labor force has access to the resources necessary to succeed.”

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