County’s jobless rate is lowest in the area
Bruce Alsobrook | News-Telegram Editor

Oct. 23, 2005 -- Unemployment in Hopkins County was apparently unaffected by the fallout from Hurricane Katrina in September, although statistics may reflect a different story in the coming months.

The county's jobless rate for September was at 4.9 percent, the lowest in the area and the same as one year before. The data collected by the Texas Workforce Commission reflects a stable workforce, with the number of jobs in the county in September at 16,644, only six fewer than in September of 2004.

The unemployment rate in Hopkins County did rise 0.5 percentage points from August of this year, when the rate was 4.4 percent. That increase was not unexpected, however, as the effect of students returning to class traditionally lowers the number of jobs in September.

While at least a few families from Louisiana have reportedly settled into new surroundings in Hopkins County, the TWC data doesn't reflect a significant effect on the labor market from those newcomers. However, the workforce commission has also issued a notice pointing out that the methodology used to estimate unemployment rates may take a few months to gauge the full impact.

"Preliminary estimates indicate that Hurricane Katrina had an effect on employment and unemployment in several states in the region," stated the TWC's "Notice Regarding the Impact of Recent Hurricanes." "The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides the methodology used to estimate state labor force statistics. This methodology depends heavily upon larger regional developments described by the BLS. A clearer picture of recent events may emerge in coming months."

Both Hopkins County and Titus County had the lowest unemployment rates in the area in September at 4.9 percent, although Hopkins County had a larger number of jobs (16,644 to 14,430).

Rains County and Franklin County each had jobless rates of 5 percent, but the numbers were different a year ago. In September 2004, Rains County unemployment was at 5.6 percent, while Franklin County's jobless figure was at 4.4 percent.

Wood County unemployment was at 5.5 percent, the same as one year before. Hunt County's jobless rate of 5.6 percent was slightly lower than September 2004's 5.7 pecent. Meanwhile, Delta County unemployment fell the most percentage-wise, dropping from 7.7 percent in September of 2004 to 5.7 percent last month.

Lamar County had the highest unemployment in the immediate area at 6.3 percent, up 0.2 percentage points from one year before.

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