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Unemployment falls to 17-year low

LIVINGSTON – Polk County’s October unemploy-ment rate fell to its lowest level in almost 17 years, according to figures released by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC).

The agency posted a 4.9 percent jobless rate for the county during October, which is the first time in almost 17 years unemployment has dipped below the 5.0 percent mark. The last time this was reported was the 4.8 percent rate posted in December 2000.

TWC frequently revises the figures as it collects additional data so it is possible the latest 4.9 percent figure could go up or down slightly in the next 30 to 60 days.

The new rate is down significantly from the 5.6 percent September rate, the 6.2 percent August rate and the 5.8 percent July rate.

In addition to being the lowest jobless rate of the year, the 4.9 percent October rate is down 1.2 percentage point from the 6.1 percent rate recorded in October 2016.

The current 4.9 percent unemployment rate translates to mean that out of an estimated workforce of 17,199, there were 846 county residents looking for work during the month. One month earlier, TWC’s revised estimates put the local labor force at 17,307 with 975 people looking for jobs.

Statewide, October’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.9 percent was down from September’s 4.0 percent and down from the 4.8 percent jobless rate posted in October 2016.

The October seasonally adjusted U.S. rate of 4.1 percent was down slightly from September’s 4.2 percent and down from the 4.8 percent figure posted in October 2016.

According to TWC officials, the state added 71,500 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs in October. Annual employment growth for the state was 2.8 percent during the month, marking 90 consecutive months of annual growth.

“By adding an impressive 71,500 jobs over the past month and 316,100 jobs over the year, Texas employers have once again demonstrated their unmatched innovation and ability to achieve success in our country’s premier place to do business,” said

TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar. “This economy provides valuable opportunities for the highly skilled Texas workforce to also achieve success.”

Leisure and Hospitality employment rebounded by adding 34,700 jobs in October after experiencing its largest monthly decline in September due to hurricane-affected business closures. Over the year, this industry has gained 41,000 jobs. Trade, Transportation, and Utilities employment grew by 10,300 jobs, and Professional and Business Services expanded by 6,300 jobs.

“Private-sector employers added 64,100 jobs in October and have accounted for the addition of 279,300 positions in Texas over the past year as the state has continued to expand its employment,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs. “I invite Texas employers to participate in the We Hire Vets recognition program to recognize them for their commitment to hiring our nation’s heroes.”

“Several Goods Producing industries are showing strength in Texas, including Construction, which expanded by 4,500 jobs in October” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. “In recognition of Texas Apprenticeship Week this week, I encourage our labor force to tap into TWC’s apprenticeship training program that can help prepare them for a well-paying career.”

From among the 25 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) monitored by TWC, the Amarillo and Midland MSAs had the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 2.4 percent, followed the College Station-Bryan MSA at 2.5 percent and the Austin-Round Rock and Lubbock MSAs at 2.6 percent.

The MSAs with the highest jobless rate in September was the Beaumont-Port Arthur MSA at 6.3 percent followed by the McAllen–Edinburg–Mission MSA at 5.7 percent. The Brownsville-Harlingen MSA recorded a rate of 5.5 percent.

Unemployment rates posted for other East Texas counties include:
OCT. %
COUNTY RATE CHANGE
Anderson 2.8 -0.4
Angelina 4.0 -0.5
Cherokee 3.7 -0.4
Grimes 4.1 -0.6
Hardin 5.4 -1.3
Harris 4.2 -0.7
Houston 3.7 -0.4
Jasper 6.3 -0.8
Jefferson 6.6 -1.9
Leon 5.2 -0.6
Liberty 5.7 -1.3
Madison 3.7 -0.6
Montgomery 3.5 -0.6
Nacogdoches 3.3 -0.5
Polk 4.9 -0.7
Sabine 6.7 -1.0
San Augustine 5.9 -1.1
San Jacinto 4.7 -0.8
Shelby 4.1 -0.5
Trinity 4.7 -0.7
Tyler 5.9 -1.4
Walker 3.7 -0.6