PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

March 29, 2014

Jobless rate ticks down

Mary Meaux
The Port Arthur News

— Local growth and the addition of new jobs is causing the unemployment rate to inch down.

Numbers released Friday by Texas Workforce show Port Arthur’s unemployment rate has dropped from 15.8 percent in January to 14.5 percent in February. The February 2013 number came in at 15.5 percent.

Jefferson County also saw a slight decease in the unemployment rate, moving from 9.8 in January to 9.5 in February. Last February the rate was 10.5 percent.

Orange County saw a decrease as well, going from 9.5 percent in January to 9.1 percent in February. Last February the rate was 10.5 percent.

Beaumont saw a very slight increase in unemployment, going from 8.0 in January to 8.1 in February. The February 2013 figure was 9.4 percent.

Ira McNeil, labor market analyst and business solutions consultant with Texas Workforce Solutions of Southeast Texas, said the job market looks positive.

“In Port Arthur, a number of new restaurants opened up, and we probably had some people who were seasonally employed to make some extra cash during the holidays drop out of the market,” McNeil said.

The best indicator, he said, is at the county level.

“Cheniere LNG, on the Louisiana side of the river, will start moving into the mechanical stage from the groundwork stage, which will increase the need for different types of workers: pipefitters, combo welders, specialty welders, etc.,” he said.

Other projects in surrounding areas within commuting distance are also under way such as Sempra Energy, Panera Bread, S&B in Nederland and others. Most of the large projects will be completed by 2015, which will cause the jobs to shift from mainly construction to permanent jobs.

Statewide, Texas employers added 37,600 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs in February.

Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate held steady at 5.7 percent in February. It was down from 6.5 percent in February 2013, and was a full percentage point below the nation’s February unemployment rate of 6.7 percent, according to a press release from Texas Workforce Commission.

Eight out of 11 major industries expanded over the month. Industries in the private sector added 31,000 jobs in February for a total of 278,000 added over the year and a 3.0 percent annual growth rate. Professional and Business Services added more positions than any other major industry over the month, with 10,600 jobs added.

E-mail: mmeaux@panews.com

Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews