December jobless rate climbs to 5.2%

By Greg Peak
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LIVINGSTON – After hitting its lowest level in almost 17 years during October 2017, Polk County’s unemployment in Polk County continued to inch upward in December, climbing to 5.2 percent.

Asccording to latest figures released by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), the December 2017 rate was up only slightly from the 5.1 percent jobless figure listed in November 2017

While the December report saw unemployment rise, it was still the lowest rate posted for that month in more than10 years. The last time the end of the year rate was this low was in 2006 when an identical December number of 5.2 percent was recorded.

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

In addition to being among the lowest jobless rates of 2017, the 5.2 percent December rate is down 1.3 percentage point from the 6.5 percent rate recorded in December 2016.

The current 5.2 percent unemployment rate translates to mean that out of an estimated workforce of 17,409, there were 909 county residents looking for work during the month. One month earlier, TWC’s revised estimates put the local labor force at 17,322 with 891 people looking for jobs.

Statewide, December’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.9 percent was unchanged from the revised November figure and down from the 4.5 percent jobles rate posted in December 2016.

The December seasonally adjusted U.S. rate of 3.9 percent was unchanged from October and November but down from the 4.5 percent figure posted in December 2016.

According to TWC officials, the state added 400 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs in December, or 306,900 during 2017. Annual employment growth for the state was 2.5 percent during the month, marking 92 consecutive months of annual growth.

“Texas ended 2017 with record-level job creation numbers during the fourth quarter, with 10 of 11 industries expanding over the year and an annual gain of 306,900 jobs,” said TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar. “TWC looks forward to another year of strong partnerships with innovative Texas employers as they continue to create valuable opportunities for the Texas workforce and contribute to our state’s economic success.”

Industries adding jobs in December included Leisure and Hospitality, which added 6,800 jobs; Construction added 4,300 jobs; and Information, which added 3,600 jobs, and includes traditional and software publishing, data processing and hosting, and telecommunications companies.

“Private sector employers had a successful year in Texas, adding almost 270,000 jobs since December 2016,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs. “This growth is a great illustration of the value and opportunity that employers bring to the Texas economy.”

The Amarillo and Midland Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) recorded the month’s lowest unemployment rate among Texas MSAs with a non-seasonally adjusted rate of 2.5 percent, followed by the Austin-Round Rock, College Station-Bryan and Lubbock MSAs, which tied for the second lowest with a rate of 2.7 percent. The San Angelo, San Antonio-New Braunfels and Sherman-Denison MSAs also tied for the third lowest rate of 3.0 percent for December.
“The unemployment rate in Texas fell nearly a point over the year 2017, which is great news for workers in the Lone Star State,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. “Positive economic growth means continued opportunities for the expanding labor force here in Texas.”

The MSAs with the highest jobless rate in December were the Beaumont-Port Arthur MSA and the McAllen–Edinburg–Mission MSA which were tied at 6.7 percent. The Brownsville-Harlingen MSA recorded a rate of 6.0 percent and was followed by the Corpus Christi MSA with a 5.2 percent rate.