PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

March 10, 2014

Jobless numbers in PA inch up

PORT ARTHUR — The percentage of unemployed Port Arthur residents in January rose slightly from December’s figures, but continued a mostly downward trend that began in January 2013.

According to numbers released by the Texas Workforce Commission Labor Market and Career Information, in conduction with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 3,619 people in Port Arthur are currently unemployed — 15.8 percent of the city’s population — a difference of just 19 people from December’s total of 15.7 percent.

Pam Wise, liaison with Texas Workforce Solutions in Beaumont, said that an unexpectedly harsh winter, coupled with the natural end of seasonal jobs, factored into the slight increase.

“The long stretches of inclement weather that we had affected everything — it stopped transportation, it stopped goods,” she said. “All the temporary jobs hired for the holidays are over.”

Wise said that fluctuation is expected in a job market largely dependent on refinery jobs, as Southeast Texas is.

“A lot of our work is based on construction and people moving in and out of the area as projects go away,” she said. “When shutdowns come at the plants, labor forces may increase.”

Unemployment figures in Jefferson County also saw a slight increase, from 9.6 percent in December to 9.8 percent in January. Statewide, unemployment rates were at their lowest since November 2008 — 5.7 percent, down from 6 percent in December and below the national average of 6.6 percent.

Port Arthur’s unemployment has dropped noticeably from 18.3 percent in January 2013, and Wise said she is optimistic that trend will continue in 2014 with several economic developments on the horizon, such as Golden Pass’s LNG expansion in Sabine Pass and Huntsman Corporation’s expansion in Port Neches.

“Spring is coming, and hopefully better weather,” Wise said. “We are very optimistic that, based on all projects we’ve heard about, we will be able to get more people employed as the year goes on.”

Email: ecallahan@panews.com

Twitter: @ErinnPA

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