Jobless rate at 4 percent

Unemployment on pace to be lowest of the decade

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK | News-Telegram Managing Editor

July 22, 2007 - Unemployment was down — way down — in June in Hopkins and surrounding counties.

In Hopkins County, the jobless rate in June of this year was at an even 4 percent, according to the latest estimates by the Texas Workforce Commission. One year ago, June unemployment was at 4.6 percent.

Hopkins County and Fraklin County tied for the lowest unemployment rate in the area. 

The data indicate 2007 will probably end up with the lowest annual unemployment rate of the decade so far for Hopkins County. June is traditionally the month with the highest jobless rate as the number of people seeking work swells with the end of school. At 4 percent, this year's June jobless rate is the lowest for that month in the past eight years, and unemployment was below 4 percent the previous three months.

The annual unemployment rate this decade has ranged from a low of 4.1 percent in the year 2000 to 6 percent in 2003.

It's not all good news, however. In Hopkins County, as in several other area counties, the adjustment came at the cost of actual jobs.

While there were fewer unemployed people in the county this June, there were also fewer people working than last year. In June of 2006, an estimated 17,313 people in the county were employed. This year, the number for June was 17,294.

However, that was offset by fewer people in the civilian labor force — the number of people working or actively seeking work in the county. That figure dropped from 18,155 last year to 18,008 in June of this year.

Hopkins County was not the only area that saw a drop in the number of people working, however. Three other nearby counties — Lamar, Wood and Titus — also experienced declines in the number of people with jobs.

Lamar County had by far the largest drop, from 22,774 to 22,613. Like Hopkins County, however, the decline was offset by a reduction in the CLF.

Some other counties, however, saw both jobs and the CLF increase. Hunt County, which already has the largest labor force in the region, added almost 700 jobs from one year ago, bringing the total number of people working in Greenville and surrounding towns to 38,724.

Hunt and Delta counties also saw the biggest declines in unemployment rates. Both counties registered 4.7 percent unemployment in June, down from 5.9 percent one year before.

The jobless rate in both Wood County and Rains County dropped a full percentage point. Wood County's rate went from 5.7 percent in June of 2006 to 4.7 percent this year, while Rains County's numbers fell from 5.5 percent to 4.5 percent.

Both Lamar and Franklin counties registered similar decreases in jobless rates. Lamar County's rate was at 5.2 percent, the highest in the area, was down from 6 percent one year ago, and Franklin County fell from 4.8 percent to 4 percent.

Titus County, like Hopkins County, had a drop of 0.6 percentage points in the unemployment rate, falling from 4.9 percent in June 2006 to 4.3 percent last month.

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