Hopkins County’s labor market has been the healthiest of any county in the region this year, posting the lowest jobless rates in the eight-county area in January and February.
Hopkins County is one of only two counties in the region, for example, to post unemployment rates below 6 percent in both months.
The county’s unemployment rate was 5.1 percent for February, according to data from the Texas Workforce Commission. The rate fell from 5.4 percent in January (also the lowest among the eight counties) as the number of jobs in the county rose by 141. The other seven nearby counties — Delta, Franklin, Hunt, Lamar, Rains, Titus and Wood — posted jobless rates ranging from 5.7 percent (Franklin County) to 7 percent (Delta County).
Six of the eight counties had increases from one year ago of at least 2 percentage points. Titus, Wood and Delta counties all saw unemployment rates increase 2.3 percentage points from one year before, while jobless rates in Hunt and Rains counties climbed 2.1 percentage points. Lamar County’s rate rose 2 percentage points from February 2008
The average increase in the other counties from one year ago is more than double the climb in Hopkins County. Locally, the unemployment rate rose 1 percent point from February of 2008 (4.1 percent) to this February (5.1 percent). In the other seven counties combined, the average rise was 2.1 percent.
For most of the counties in the region, the February numbers were among the worst of the decade.
For Hopkins County, the 5.1 percent was the highest for the month of February since 2005, when unemployment that month was 5.2 percent.
But February’s number is more or less in the middle of the pack for this decade, ranking as the sixth-highest rate in the 10 years since 2000. For most of the other counties, the February numbers were at or near the highest since 2000.
Delta County’s 7 percent jobless figure, for example, was its biggest for a February this decade. The same goes for Titus County, where the February jobless rate of 6.2 percent was the worst for this time of year since the year 2000, the closest being 5.9 percent in 2003.
Franklin County’s 5.7 percent was the second-highest in 10 years, eclipsed only by the 5.8 percent recorded in 2003. That was also the year Hunt County posted its highest rate in 10 years at 7 percent; last month’s 6.9 percent is the second-highest.
For Lamar County, this month’s 6.9 percent looks comparatively rosy up against the numbers in 2002 and 2003, when unemployment was at 7.3 percent and 7.8 percent. Rains County also had unemployment of 7.8 percent in 2003; this month’s figure of 6.8 percent is the second-highest of the decade.
Wood County’s 7 percent jobless rate in February was also the second-worst of the decade. Wood County’s worst February in 10 years came in 2003, when unemployment stood at 7.1 percent.
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