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More jobs in PA; jobless rate still up

With the exception of Port Arthur, the number of people without jobs in Jefferson County has declined much the same as the rest of the state during the month of April, according to the latest data released by the Texas Workforce Commission.

Statewide, Texas’ unemployment rate is down to 6.9 percent, reflecting the addition of 13,200 non-farm jobs. Texas saw an increase of 225,800 jobs over the year, a TWC press release issued Friday stated.

While much of the state saw a decrease in its unemployment rate, Port Arthur’s rate jumped more than a percentage point, from 16.0 in March to 17.2 in April.

“Port Arthur has always been very unique in how the unemployment stats go up and down, the only thing we can point to is the Motiva project that has been ramping down,” Pamela Wise, liaison for Workforce Solutions of Southeast Texas, said in a telephone interview Friday.

Because so many people were employed during the plant’s expansion project, now that it is nearly completed there have been layoffs.

Though many of those Motiva-project-related employees live in other cities, their unemployment is generated in the city where they worked, Wise said.

The latest unemployment figures for Port Arthur are above the 16.6 figure for the same time a year ago.

Prior to April, Port Arthur’s unemployment rate had decreased for three consecutive months.

Though the city’s unemployment rate climbed, 215 jobs were added.

“We are still encouraged because we have some other sectors that are adding jobs,” Wise said. “We just have to keep slowly but surely marching ahead.”

In Beaumont, the number of unemployed in April decreased to 8.6 percent compared to 9.4 percent a month earlier, and 9.3 percent a year ago.

Beaumont saw an increase of 578 jobs during the month of April.

Jefferson County numbers declined slightly, from 10.6 percent in March to 10.4 in April. A year ago the county’s unemployment rate was 11.1 percent. This is the third consecutive month  Beaumont’s unemployment rate has decreased.

Jefferson County added 1,166 jobs during the month of April.

In Orange County, the number of people without jobs decreased by nearly a percentage point, from 9.6 percent in March to 8.7 percent in April.

According to the TWC, 602 jobs were added during the month in Orange County.

Eight of the 11 major industries in Texas posted gains in April. Leading those gains was the construction industry with the addition of 7,300 jobs statewide. Jobs in trade, transportation and utilities expanded by 2,900 in April, the TWC press release stated.

The Midland Metropolitan Statistical area had the lowest April unemployment rate in the state at 3.5 percent. The Odessa MSA came in second at 4.0 percent, and the Amarillo MSA third at 4.4 percent.

Beaumont-Port Arthur’s MSA was calculated at 10.7 percent for the month of April. The area came in third in the state for the highest rate of unemployed.

The McAllen-Edinburg-Mission and the Brownsville-Harlingen areas saw the highest number of people without jobs, with both area’s unemployment rate at 11.4 percent.  

skoonce@panews.com