Valley jobless rates improve in February

HARLINGEN — Texas added 17,700 non-farm jobs in February and the state’s unemployment rate held steady at 3.8 percent.

It marked the 106th consecutive month of annual growth for non-farm employment.

In the Rio Grande Valley, the Brownsville-Harlingen Metropolitan Statistical Area showed a jobless rate of 6.3 percent, an improvement over the 6.7 rate in January. A year ago, the area’s jobless rate was also 6.7 percent.

In the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission MSA, the monthly jobless rate for February was 6.6 percent, a drop from the 7.6 percent rate recorded the previous month. Last year, February’s jobless rate in the area was 7.1 percent.

Elsewhere in South Texas, Corpus Christi had a jobless rate for the month of 5.0 percent, slightly better than the 5.2 percent rate in January. A year ago, the jobless rate there was 5.5 percent.

In the San Antonio-New Braunfels, MSA the monthly jobless rate for January was 3.4 percent, an improvement over the 6.6 percent rate the month before. Last year in February, the jobless rate was 3.5 percent.

“Adding 15,100 jobs in February, Texas’ private-sector employers continue to drive our economy and our state’s robust and competitive growth,” said TWC chair and commissioner representing employers, Ruth R. Hughs.

Private sector employers added 256,000 jobs over the past year. Private annual employment growth was at 2.5 percent in February and has held above 2.0 percent since October 2017.

Leisure and Hospitality added 5,500 jobs over the month, the most among major industries in Texas. This crucial economic driver has seen 103 consecutive months of over-the-year growth since August 2010, the TWC reported.

“With each passing month, Texas continues a growth trajectory resulting in high-paying jobs in essential industries like manufacturing, professional services and financial activities,” said Julian Alvarez, the TWC commissioner representing labor. “To ensure positive growth, we must continue to invest in necessary training and education for subsequent generations. Through events like Texas Career and Technical Education signing day, students are equipped with the training required for in demand occupations and that our workforce has the skills needed to remain competitive.”

Professional and Business Services grew by 4,100 jobs in February, driven mostly by growth in Professional, Scientific and Technical Services, and Administrative, Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services. The industry’s growth rate has held at or above 2.0 percent since May 2017.

The Midland MSA recorded February’s lowest unemployment rate among Texas MSAs with a non-seasonally adjusted rate of 2.2 percent, followed by the Odessa MSA which recorded at 2.7 for the second-lowest rate. The Amarillo MSA recorded the third-lowest rate of 2.9 percent.

Texas jobless rates

Feb. 2018 Jan. 2018 Feb. 2017

Brownsville-Harlingen 6.3 percent 6.7 percent 6.7 percent

McAllen-Edin-Mission 6.6 percent 7.6 percent 7.1 percent

San Antonio-New Brn 3.4 percent 3.6 percent 3.5 percent

Corpus Christi 5.0 percent 5.2 percent 5.5 percent

Source: Non-seasonally adjusted rates from Texas Workforce Commission