By BOB PALMER
Economic indicators reflect a steady growth for Jefferson and Marion County at the mid-point of 2018.
Marion County now boasts a 4.2 percent unemployment rate with only 185 job seekers out of a workforce of 4,232, according to a report from the Texas Workforce Commission.
The monthly sales tax report from the Texas Comptroller’s office also gives cause for optimism.
In June the sales tax rebate ($66,986) for the City of Jefferson was up 11.42 percent over June of last year. City Administrator Kevin Huckabee said last week the sales tax numbers, particularly a 141 percent bounce in the year-to-date number, require a grain of salt. “The state had been mis-applying the Norboard sales tax,” Huckabee said. Some speculate the money had been sent to Jefferson County rather than to here.
The makeup check from the Comptroller caused a big jump in the annual figure. Continued receipts from Norboard produce at least part of the month-to-month increase.
“Even if you remove the Norboard money, it does appear that sales tax revenue is increasing by two to three percent,” Huckabee said.
Marion County’s sales tax rebate has also seen an increase. The annual take is up 124 percent for the first six months of 2018. The June rebate ($31,000) was yup 18 percent over the previous year.
State-wide sales tax rebates to municipalities ($41 million) went up 10.06 in June and is up 7.42 percent for the year. The Texas economy added 34,700 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs in May, which marked 23 consecutive months of employment growth. Over the year, Texas added 352,100 jobs for an annual employment growth rate of 2.9 percent. Private-sector employers added 34,300 positions over the month. Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.1 percent in May, unchanged from April 2018.
“Texas employers continue to put the world class Texas workforce to work, adding 34,700 jobs in May and 352,100 over the year,” said TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar. TWC continues to work with our local and Tri-Agency partners to foster innovative strategies to equip the Texas talent pool with industry aligned skills. Job creation is strong in Texas.”
May’s annual growth in the state’s Goods Producing industries was strong at 5.7 percent. Over the month, the Construction industry added 5,800 jobs, followed by Mining and Logging with 4,100 positions, while Manufacturing employment expanded by 3,400 positions.
In Texas’ Service Providing sector, Education and Health Services added 8,100 positions over the month, and led all industries in job growth for May. Also within this sector, Professional and Business Services added 4,300 jobs, followed by Leisure and Hospitality with a gain of 3,500 positions.
“Employers continue to contribute to our state’s great success. Private-sector employers have accounted for the addition of 346,300 positions in Texas over the past year as the state has continued to expand its workforce,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employer Ruth R. Hughs. “As employment continues to grow, I invite Texas employers whose workforce is comprised of at least 10 percent Texas veterans to apply for our We Hire Vets recognition program. We want to thank businesses for their commitment to hiring our nation’s heroes and strengthening the Texas economy.”
Midland Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) recorded the month’s lowest unemployment rate among Texas MSAs with a non-seasonally adjusted rate of 2.1 percent, followed by the Amarillo MSA, which had the second lowest with a rate of 2.6 percent. The Austin-Round Rock, College Station-Bryan, Lubbock, and Odessa MSAs all recorded the third lowest rate of 2.8 percent for May.
“Several Goods Producing industries are showing strength in Texas, including Construction,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. “I encourage our labor force to connect with TWC’s apprenticeship training program that can help prepare them for a well-paying career. One of the best ways that adults learn skills is in applied studies.”
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