County’s jobless rate falls to 4.3 percent; number of people working up by almost 500

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK | News-Telegram Managing Editor

Apr. 8, 2007 - The number of people working in Hopkins County has increased by about 500 in the past 12 months, according to the most recent labor market estimates for the month of February.

February's unemployment rate fell from 4.6 percent in 2006 to 4.3 percent this year, the third-lowest jobless rate in the area. Only Franklin County and Titus County, which both had 4 percent unemplyment in February, had lower rates.

The numbers indicate more than just a lower ratio of people out of work — the estimates show the county's labor force is also expanding.

In February of last year, the civilian labor force — the number of people either working or actively seeking jobs — was at 17, 357, with total employment at 16,566.

This year, however, the CLF for February was estimated at 17,806, with 17,040 of those holding down a steady job. That's an increase of 474 jobs, or 2.9 percent, in one year.

Overall numbers of unemployed people also declined, falling from 791 in February 2006 to 766 this year.

Most counties in the region reported improved jobless rates from one year ago, although only Wood County and Hunt County saw the number of people working increase by 2.9 percent.

Wood County's jobless rate of 4.8 percent was down from 5.4 percent in February 2006, while the number of people with jobs rose from 16,933 to 17,425.

In Hunt County, the labor market had room for 38,231 jobs in February, up from 37,149 one year before. Hunt County unemployment also fell from 5.4 percent last year to 4.9 percent in February.

Rains County had the fourth-lowest jobless rate in the eight-county area at 4.4 percent, down from 5.3 percent one year before.

Delta County's unemployment rate was the only one in the area to rise, increasing from 5.1 percent in February 2006 to 5.2 percent this year.

Lamar County continues to have the highest unemployment in the area at 5.4 percent, although that's a significant improvement from the 6.3 percent in February of 2006. Lamar County's improvement, however, can be linked to a decrease in the civilian labor force, which fell from 23,733 to 23,530.

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