Texas adds April jobs, Beaumont-Port Arthur struggle, post-Harvey

Published 7:09 pm Friday, May 18, 2018

By Ken Stickney


The Texas economy added 39,600 seasonally adjusted, non-farm jobs in April — success that may have bypassed this southeastern region of the state.

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The Texas Workforce Commission released last month’s employment numbers Friday, which, coupled with annual employment numbers, show the state staying on a successful economic course for the 22nd consecutive month of growth.

For the year, the TWC said, Texas has added 332,300 jobs for an annual employment growth rate of 2.7 percent in April. Private sector employers added 37,900 positions over the month.

“Our state’s ongoing trajectory of success is linked to the innovation and competitiveness of employers in a range of industries providing workers more opportunities to demonstrate their world-class skills,” said TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar.

Manufacturing recorded the largest private-industry employment gain over the month, adding 8,600 jobs; the Professional and Business Services sector added 7,500 jobs in April; Education and Health Services added 6,200 jobs.

Among the state Metropolitan Statistical Areas, Midland MSA had the lowest unemployment rate with a non-seasonally adjusted rate of 2.1 percent. Amarillo MSA was second lowest at 2.6 percent; College Station-Bryan MSA was third lowest at 2.7 percent in April.

At first glance, Beaumont-Port Arthur MSA appeared to show improvement with 6.2 percent unemployment, down from 6.7 percent in March. But the MSA, which includes Jefferson, Orange, Hardin and Newton counties, also shows a loss of some 1,500 people from the workforce and about 500 fewer jobs.

At 6.2 percent unemployment, Beaumont-Port Arthur is tied with Brownsville-Harlingen MSA at second-worst among 27 MSAs in Texas, ahead of only McAllen-Edinburg-Mission MSA, at 6.5 percent unemployment.

LaurenVan Gerven, a labor market analyst in the TWC’s Beaumont office, said the drop in available workforce may suggest local retirements that could be replenished by May graduations. She said the short-term report is “not very concerning.” Oftentimes retirements come before the summertime, she said.

She said no major local construction projects have ended.

“With Harvey, it’s been a pretty goofy year,” she said. “Some people left the area and haven’t come back.”