AP NEWS

Valley jobless rate spikes up in December

January 22, 2019

HARLINGEN — Unemployment numbers in the Rio Grande Valley were sharply up in the month of December, even as the statewide jobless rate hovers at historic lows, the Texas Workforce Commission reported yesterday.

The Brownsville-Harlingen Metropolitan Statistical Area saw its jobless rate balloon from 5.3 percent in November to 5.8 percent in December. A year ago, that rate was 5.9 percent.

The McAllen-Edinburg-Mission MSA experienced an even bigger jump, with the jobless rate for December at 6.7 percent compared with 5.8 percent in November. Yearover- year, McAllen’s rate is just above the 6.6 percent registered in December 2017.

Statewide, Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.7 percent, and has remained at the same historic 43-year low since October 2018. Annual employment growth for Texas was 3.2 percent in December, and marked 104 consecutive months of annual growth. Over the year, Texas has added 391,800 jobs as Total Nonfarm employment reached a new high of 12,744,100 Seasonally adjusted jobless numbers take into account seasonal hiring/layoff patterns that go along with winter and summer holidays. Nonseasonally adjusted rates, like those recorded for the Brownsville-Harlingen and McAllen-Edinburg-Mission MSAs, do not account for holiday and seasonal hiring patterns.

“Texas is the place to be for job growth and economic development as Texas employers in our state continue to create job opportunities for the highly skilled Texas workforce. In December, Texas employers added 391,800 jobs, and for the third consecutive month, unemployment in Texas is at record lows,” said TWC Chair Ruth R. Hughs. “With mining and logging jobs, which includes oil and gas employment, up 18 percent from the prior year, our employers and our workers are providing the energy that fuels the U.S. economy.”

Private sector annual employment growth was 3.7 percent in December and has held above 3.0 percent since April 2018. Ten out of 11 major industries expanded over the month as well as over the year, the TWC said.

The Mining and Logging sector registered an annual growth rate of 18 percent. Annually, this industry has led all other major industries in Texas since May 2017.

Construction added 4,500 jobs over the month. It grew at 6.4 percent over the year, second-fastest among major industries in Texas. Its annual growth has stayed positive since September 2011.

“With businesses hiring at a record clip, there’s never been a better time to plan a great Texas career,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. “A great way to start a career in growing, well-paying fields in industries like construction or mining and logging is through registered apprenticeships, where employees can earn while they learn.”

Midland recorded December’s lowest unemployment rate among Texas MSAs with a nonseasonally adjusted rate of 2.1 percent, followed by the Amarillo and Odessa MSAs, which tied for second-lowest with a rate of 2.6 percent. The Austin-Round Rock MSA recorded the third-lowest rate of 2.7 percent.

rkelley@valleystar.com