County’s labor market on track for solid gains 

Annual jobless rate on pace to be lowest of the decade

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK | News-Telegram Managing Editor

Dec 28, 2007 - Hopkins County recorded the second-lowest jobless rate in the area in November, and the local job market is on pace to see annual payrolls increase by close to $3.75 over one year ago.

The county's unemployment rate last month, based on estimates by the Texas Workforce Commission, stood at 3.7 percent, trailing only Franklin County's 3.5 percent rate in an eight-county area.

Titus County tied Hopkins County for second  place with an identical 3.7 percent rate. They were followed by Hunt and Delta counties (3.4 percent), Wood and Rains counties (4.4 percent) and Lamar County, which had the highest jobless rate in the area at 4.6 percent.

Hopkins County was also one of the big winners in terms of growing jobs compared to one year ago. The TWC estimates put the number of employed people in the county in November at 17,326, up by 246 from November of 2006.

The growth in jobs outpaced demand, as the civilian labor force — the count of people either working or seeking jobs — for the county rose by 226 to 17,986, the fourth-largest in the area.

Only Hunt County, which at 40,797 has the region's largest labor force, had a higher gain in employed people — 454.

The November figures for Hopkins County are a good sign, if the trends of recent times are an indication. For the past three years, the jobless rate has fallen from November to December, and the number of people working has climbed. One year ago, the number of employed people rose by 246 in the one-month span alone.

It was also the lowest unemployment rate for the month of November this decade, the closest being the 3.8 percent recorded in 2006.

Hopkins County is also headed for its lowest yearly unemployment rate of the century. Barring an unforeseen catastrophe — and it would have to be a BIG catastrophe — the county's jobless rate should finish 2007 with an average unemployment rate of about 3.8 percent. The lowest rate recorded this decade was 4.1 percent in the year 2000.

The average number of people working locally is also on pace to take a healthy jump this year, and that translates into a significant amount of income.

The average number of jobs in the county through the first 11 months of 2007 has been 145 higher than last year. Using the state's estimate of per capita income and adjusting for inflation, that translates into about $3.749 million in increased payrolls across the county.

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