County's labor market shows solid growth over past year

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK, News-Telegram Managing Editor

Oct. 17, 2008 - Hopkins County's jobless rate for September increased more than half a percentage point from the same month in 2007 --yet the county posted some of best labor market numbers in the area.

While the unemployment rate over the 12-month period rose, leaving an estimated 121 more people out of work than last September, far more people have been added to payrolls during that time frame. Also, the civilian labor force -- the number of people working or looking for jobs, and an indicator of confidence in the labor market -- was up by 540 from September 2007.

Meanwhile, the number of people living in Hopkins who have jobs has also risen a respectable amount, increasing by 618 to 17,679.

The latest figures mark the first time since 2005 that the number of people living in the county and holding jobs did not decline from September to September. After hitting a high of 16,775 in September 2005, the number fell to 16,731, then dropped by another 366 people in 2007.

As usual, Hopkins County's seasonally unadjusted jobless rate was well below the statewide and nationwide averages. The state of Texas posted an unemployment rate of 5.2 percent last month. The U.S. jobless rate was a flat 6 percent.

Three of the nearby counties in the Hopkins County region had "better" increases in the unemployment rate, but none could report a drop in the total number of people out of work.

Hopkins County, however, had the second-lowest jobless rate of the eight-county area, trailing only its neighbor to the east.

The county with the lowest increase in unemployment was Franklin County with a 0.4 percentage point decrease in unemployment from September of 2007. This September, the rate was a flat 4 percent, which was also the lowest jobless rate among nearby counties.

Franklin was followed by Wood County, where the 5.3 percent jobless rate was up 0.5 percentage points from a year ago.

Following Franklin, Wood and Hopkins were Lamar County, with a 5.5 percent unemployment rate, up 0.7 points from September of 2007.

Two counties -- Titus and Rains -- logged 0.8 percentage point increases. Titus County had the lower rate, however, at 4.7 percent, compared to 5.4 percent in Rains.

The largest increases were recorded in Hunt County and Delta County. Hunt County, with a 5.5 percent unemployment rate in September, was up 0.9 points from a year ago. Delta County's rate jumped 1.3 percentage points to 6.1 percent last month, which was also the highest rate in the area.

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