County's jobless rate rises But the number of people working also increases

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK, News-Telegram Managing Editor

May 1, 2008 - The March jobless rate in Hopkins County was slightly higher than one year ago, but the numbers carried good news, as well, in the form of more jobs.

The unemployment rate of 3.9 percent last month was up slightly over the 3.8 percent recorded in March of 2007.

However, there total number of people in the county working rose from 16,373 one year ago to 16,499.

The civilian labor force -- the number of people employed or looking for jobs -- also rose, from 17,020 in March 2007 to 17,174 last month. The number of unemployed people was 675 last month, according to estimates by the Texas Workforce Commission, compared one year before.

The latest jobless figures are among the best of the decade for the month of March. The unemployment rate was the second-lowest for a March since the year 2000, while the civilian labor force was the third-largest, trailing only 2005 and 2006, when unemployment rates were at 4.8 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively.

The number of people working was the second-most, just 10 jobs less than the decade-high of 16,509 in March of 2006.

Last month's unemployment rate was the third-lowest among the eight closest counties, while Hopkins County is ranked number four in the number of jobs within its borders. Franklin County posted the best jobless rate and strong job growth, while Hunt County had the worst numbers, despite a growing labor market.

Franklin County had the lowest unemployment in the area at 3.4 percent, a decline from 3.6 percent one year prior. Franklin County also saw healthy job growth, with the number of people employed rising from 5,352 one year ago to 5,537 this March, an increase of almost 3.5 percent.

Titus County had the second-lowest jobless rate in the area at 3.8 percent, up 0.2 percentage points from one year ago. The number of people in Titus County was stagnant, rising by three to 13,944 this March, while the number of people who were out of work rose by 29.

Behind Hopkins County was Delta County with a 4.2 percent unemployment rate. That was good news in the Cooper area, however, as the rate was better than the 4.9 percent recorded last March. The county added 28 jobs to raise the number of people working to 2,347.

Next on the list were Rains County at 4.4 percent and Wood County at 4.5 percent. Rains County's rate was up from the 4 percent in March of 2007. The county added 17 workers to bring the number of employed people in that county to 5,133 in March, but it wasn't enough to keep pace with a labor force that grew by 42 people. Wood County unemployment also rose from the 4.3 percent in March of 2007, with the number of new jobs failing to outpace the increased size of the civilian labor force.

Bringing up the rear in area labor statistics were Lamar County, where the 4.6 percent rate was the same as one year before, and Hunt County with a 4.7 percent jobless number. The number of people employed in Lamar County (23,507) grew in proportion to the expanding labor force. Hunt County, which has the largest labor force in the area at 39,134, saw its jobless rate rise .04 percentage points from the 4.3 percent in March of last year. Hunt County added jobs, with the number of people employed rising from 36,865 to 37,301, but the number of people out of work rose from 1,672 to 1,833, also the largest number in the area.

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