Number of people in county working rises by 270

Unemployment rate is second-lowest in eight-county area

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK, News-Telegram Managing Editor

July 22, 2008 - The labor market across the area generally held steady in June, with Hopkins County and its six nearest neighbors all reporting job gains from one year ago.

At first glance, the unemployment numbers for all eight counties -- Hopkins, Delta, Franklin, Hunt, Lamar, Rains, Titus and Wood -- would seem to present cause for worry, as each county reported a higher jobless rate from May to June.

But it's a virtual tradition for unemployment rates to go up from May to June every year, thanks to the sudden influx of students looking for work as Texas public schools, colleges and universities close out the spring semester.

A better indicator of the labor market is a comparison with June of the previous year. Against that standard, all but two counties posted the same or lower jobless rates, and all had higher numbers of people employed.

Hopkins County fared better than the whole of Texas when comparing unemployment rates from May to June. The Texas Workforce Commission reported Friday that the state jobless rate, when not adjusted for seasonal trends, rose from 4.3 percent in May to 4.8 percent last month.

Hopkins County's rate also rose, just not as high -- from 3.8 percent in May to 4.2 percent in June. Lat month's jobless rate was also the second-lowest in the seven-county region.

And more local residents are working than one year ago. In June of 2007, the number of people in the county working stood at 16,485. Last month, TWC estimates put the number at 16,755.

That rise of 270 workers kept pace with an increase in the civilian labor force, which measures the number of people in the county both working and actively seeking jobs. The CLF rose from 17,204 in June of last year to 17, 486 a month ago.

Hopkins County also maintains one of the largest labor pools in the seven-county area. Hunt County leads the way with 37,694 jobs, followed by Lamar County with 23,412. But both counties also had the highest unemployment rates in the region last month at 5.2 percent. Lamar County's jobless rate was unchanged from June of 2007, while Hunt County's was 0.02 percentage points higher.

Wood County edged out Hopkins County for the third-largest number of workers in June at 17,645, but also had a higher jobless rate at 4.8 percent.

Franklin County had the lowest unemployment rate in the area last month at 3.8 percent, down from 4.1 percent one year earlier. Following Hopkins County's 4.2 percent were Titus County at 4.5 percent, unchanged from June 2007; Delta County's 4.7 percent, down from 4.9 percent a year before; Wood County's 4.8 percent, the same as June of 2007; and Rains County at an even 5 percent, which was up 0.03 percentage points from 12 months prior.

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