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Featured, from left: Dr. Dahlia Guerra, D.M.A., Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, the University of Texas-Pan American; Edinburg Mayor Richard García; Kirk Clark and Jeri Clark, patrons of the UTPA arts, on Thursday, April 23, in the reception room of the $42.7 million Performing Arts Complex at The University of Texas-Pan American.

Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR

Edinburg’s unemployment rate for March 2015 was 4.8 percent, representing the second consecutive month that the city posted a monthly rate under five percent, with only McAllen being the other major Valley city to come under five percent, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. The EEDC is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. Edinburg’s unemployment rate, as reported by the Texas Workforce Commission, was the best showing for the city during that month since March 2008, when it was reported at 4.4 percent by the state agency. The city’s latest performance also was better than the U.S. unemployment rate for March 2015, which came in at 5.5 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. The latest data represents an increase of 457 jobs in Edinburg when comparing the employment figures for March 2015 and March 2014. In March 2015, there were 35,651 persons employed in Edinburg, compared with 35,194 in March 2014. Those most recent figures, released on Friday, April 19 by the Texas Workforce Commission, came about a week before the Grand Premier of the Performing Arts Complex at The University of Texas-Pan American. On Thursday, April 23, the latest ultra-modern complex in Edinburg formally opened to the public, with a free concert, which included faculty and student performers from both campuses, that attracted not only arts patrons, but also students and community members to the 1,000-seat, state-of-the-art performance hall. Dr. Dahlia Guerra, D.M.A., Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, built on the economic impact theme of the new performing arts conglomerate. “The arts bring so much to a community. It is the heart and soul,” said Guerra, whose brother is Edinburg Mayor Richard García. “The artists bring with them a draw to the community because a city wants to have these opportunities to offer their citizens.” In addition to the cultural aspects of Edinburg that will be enhanced because of the new facility, the financial prosperity of the city also will be increased, she added. “A community that is rich in the arts and rich in culture, it draws business, it draws hotels, it benefits the local economy because people will come to Edinburg to see the events, concerts, art exhibits,” Guerra said. “A rich community will be rich in arts and culture.” The Performing Arts Complex is a $42.7 million investment by the Texas Legislature and the UT System Board of Regents which was the result of successful lobbying several years ago by the Edinburg Mayor, Edinburg City Council, and Edinburg Economic Development Corporation. City officials credit Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, for delivering on the state legislation that resulted in the funding, through the issuance of tuition revenue bonds, for the Performing Arts Complex. Hinojosa shared the praise with his fellow state lawmakers and UTPA leaders, past and present, and reflected on the significance of the Performing Arts Complex. “Today is a momentous day in the history of this campus and of our community. We are opening the most magnificent performing arts center you can imagine,” said Hinojosa, who participated in the public ceremony. “It is wonderful acoustics, incredible lighting and sounds. The most important part to me is that it is an academic performing hall. There are classrooms which are rehearsal halls for our students. Now, they will have the best facilities, and it really does makes a difference when it comes time for performing.” Guerra provided additional details that are designed to make all performances reach world-class levels. “On this stage, there is an incredible amount of clarity. The sound bounces from the stage through the entire auditorium, so the student is required to have very fine-tuning skills to listen carefully and make sure he or she is at the top of their game,” she said. “We will see an improvement in the musical skills of our students.”

••••••

Edinburg’s unemployment rate stays under five percent for March 2015 as $42.7 million Performing Arts Complex opens at UT-Pan American

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

Edinburg’s unemployment rate for March 2015 was 4.8 percent, representing the second consecutive month that the city posted a monthly rate under five percent, with only McAllen being the other major Valley city to come under five percent, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced.

The EEDC is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council.

Edinburg’s unemployment rate, as reported by the Texas Workforce Commission, was the best showing for the city during that month since March 2008, when it was reported at 4.4 percent by the state agency.

Among its many duties, the Texas Workforce Commission provides information and analysis on shifts in occupations and industries within the state, including unemployment rates and employment figures, broken down by cities, counties, and regions in Texas, on a monthly basis.

Edinburg’s March 2015 figure was the same as for the month of February 2015 and lower than the January 2015 level, which came in at 5.1 percent.

Edinburg’s March 2015 unemployment rate of 4.8 percent remained close to the Texas statewide average, which was 4.2 percent for March 2015, 4.3 percent for February 2015 and 4.6 percent for January 2015, according to Texas Workforce Commission figures.

The city’s latest performance also was better than the U.S. unemployment rate for March 2015, which came in at 5.5 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The latest data represents an increase of 457 jobs in Edinburg when comparing the employment figures for March 2015 and March 2014. In March 2015, there were 35,651 persons employed in Edinburg, compared with 35,194 in March 2014.

The March 2015 unemployment rate of 4.8 percent for Edinburg is also better than the annual unemployment rate in Edinburg for 2014, which was 5.8 percent – the best 12-month average from January through December in seven years.

Edinburg’s annual unemployment rates since 2005, which is the year in which the state government began preparing those figures using a more accurate formula, according to the Texas Workforce Commission, have registered as follows: 2014 (5.8 percent); 2013 (6.9 percent); 2012 (7.5 percent); 2011 (8.4 percent); 2010 (8.2 percent); 2009 (6.8 percent); 2008 (4.9 percent); 2007 (4.7 percent); 2006 (5.2 percent); and 2005 (4.9 percent)

The Texas Workforce Commission also reported that the four-county Valley’s other major communities continued to show improvements in their monthly unemployment rates, with the exception of Brownsville, which registered a very slight increase in the March 2015 unemployment rates, and Edinburg, which remained the same:

• McAllen, 4.6 percent (4.7 percent in February, 5.0 percent in January);
• Edinburg, 4.8 percent (4.8 percent in February, 5.1 percent in January);
• Harlingen, 5.6 percent (5.7 percent in February, 6.3 percent in January);
• Mission, 5.7 percent (5.8 percent in February, 6.3 percent in January);
• Weslaco, 6.0 percent (6.4 percent in February, 7.2 percent in January);
• Pharr, 6.4 percent (6.7 percent in February, 7.5 percent in January); and
• Brownsville, 7.1 percent (7.0 percent in February, 7.8 percent in January).

The unemployment rate is a key indicator of the strength of the local economy.

The unemployment rate is the number of persons unemployed, expressed as a percentage of the civilian labor force, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. The civilian labor force is that portion of the population age 16 and older employed or unemployed. To be considered unemployed, a person has to be not working but willing and able to work and actively seeking work.

$42.7 MILLION PERFORMING ARTS COMPLEX TO HELP FUEL JOB CREATION

Those most recent figures, released on Friday, April 19 by the Texas Workforce Commission, came the week before the Grand Premier of the Performing Arts Complex at The University of Texas-Pan American.

On Thursday, April 23, the latest ultra-modern complex in Edinburg formally opened to the public, with a free concert, which included faculty and student performers from both campuses, that attracted not only arts patrons, but also students and community members to the 1,000-seat, state-of-the-art performance hall.

It was the long-awaited culmination of a $42.7 million project approved by The University of Texas System Board of Regents in 2011, said Martin Baylor, Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration for UT-RGV.

Baylor, who oversaw the project’s construction as UTPA’s Vice President for Business Affairs, thanked the many people involved in bringing the project to fruition, including the Rio Grande Valley legislative delegation that worked relentlessly to provide the funding for the Performing Arts Complex.

He described the facility as a place for talented singers, dancers and musicians to flourish.

“I do take great pride in being a part of the team that has visualized, planned and created an environment in which ageless classical music will share the stage with the rousing sounds of mariachi and the romance of ballet folklórico … where talented collegians honing their craft will be introduced to world-renowned artists … and where seasoned patrons of the arts will share space with school children just being introduced to the beauty of the performing arts,” Baylor said.

“Educational and economic opportunities are two obvious benefits, but increased opportunities for cultural enrichment through the arts will be an equally important measure of our success,” he said.

Dr. Dahlia Guerra, D.M.A., Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, built on the economic impact theme of the new performing arts conglomerate.

“The arts bring so much to a community. It is the heart and soul,” said Guerra, whose brother is Edinburg Mayor Richard García. “The artists bring with them a draw to the community because a city wants to have these opportunities to offer their citizens.”

In addition to the cultural aspects of Edinburg that will be enhanced because of the new facility, the financial prosperity of the city also will be increased, she added.

“A community that is rich in the arts and rich in culture, it draws business, it draws hotels, it benefits the local economy because people will come to Edinburg to see the events, concerts, art exhibits,” Guerra said. “A rich community will be rich in arts and culture.”

The Performing Arts Complex is a $42.7 million investment by the Texas Legislature and the UT System Board of Regents which was the result of successful lobbying several years ago by the Edinburg Mayor, Edinburg City Council, and Edinburg Economic Development Corporation.

City officials credit Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, for delivering on the state legislation that resulted in the funding, through the issuance of tuition revenue bonds, for the Performing Arts Complex.

Hinojosa shared the praise with his fellow state lawmakers and UTPA leaders, past and present, and reflected on the significance of the Performing Arts Complex.

“Today is a momentous day in the history of this campus and of our community. We are opening the most magnificent performing arts center you can imagine,” said Hinojosa, who participated in the public ceremony. “It is wonderful acoustics, incredible lighting and sounds. The most important part to me is that it is an academic performing hall. There are classrooms which are rehearsal halls for our students. Now, they will have the best facilities, and it really does makes a difference when it comes time for performing.”

Guerra provided additional details that are designed to make all performances reach world-class levels.

“On this stage, there is an incredible amount of clarity. The sound bounces from the stage through the entire auditorium, so the student is required to have very fine-tuning skills to listen carefully and make sure he or she is at the top of their game,” she said. “We will see an improvement in the musical skills of our students.”

The project, which also included renovations to Buildings B and C, added nearly 14,500 square feet of space for UT-RGV’s Fine Arts program to accommodate more than 450 music and dance majors and 44 faculty members. Building A, which houses the performance hall, includes a large lobby and four new rehearsal halls, as well as dressing rooms.

One is designated the “Green Room,” to honor a donation to the PAC by Emeritus Professor of Theatre Dr. Marian Monta, who attended the premiere.

Faculty offices, classrooms, a piano lab and a dance studio were added to the existing Building B. In Building C, practice rooms were expanded to nearly 40. It now has music analysis and listening labs.

OTHER KEY REGIONAL, LOCAL ECONOMIC INDICATORS

All cities combined in Hidalgo County averaged a 7.5 percent unemployment rate in March 2015, representing improvements from 7.7 percent in February 2015 and 8.3 percent in January 2015.

All cities combined in Cameron County averaged a 7.1 percent unemployment rate in March 2015, an improvement from 7.2 percent in February 2015 and 7.8 percent in January 2015.

Also for March 2015, there were 308,703 individuals employed in Hidalgo County, while 154,059 persons were employed in Cameron County.

All cities combined in Starr County averaged a 13.4 percent unemployment rate in March 2015, as well as 13.3 percent in February 2015, but down from 13.9 percent in January 2015.

All cities combined in Willacy County averaged a 12.2 percent unemployment rate in March 2015, up from 11.1 percent in February 2015, and from 11.6 percent in January 2015.

For March 2015, there were 22,988 individuals employed in Starr County, while during the same month, 6,602 persons were employed in Willacy County.

More detailed information about the labor market and unemployment rates in Edinburg and neighboring major communities include:

Number of Persons Employed, March 2015:

Brownsville: 69,792
McAllen: 60,445
Edinburg: 35,651
Mission: 31,199
Pharr: 26,981
Harlingen: 23,271
Weslaco: 13,490

Edinburg 2014 Employment, By Month:

December 2014: 35,887
November 2014: 35,922
October 2014: 35,793
September 2014: 35,192
August 2014: 34,691
July 2014: 34,600
June 2014: 35,246
May 2014: 35,430
April 2014: 35,374
March 2014: 35,194
February 2014: 35,043
January 2014: 34,896

Edinburg Monthly Unemployment Rates, 2014:

December: 4.6 percent
November: 5.1 percent
October: 5.4 percent
September: 5.7 percent
August: 6.3 percent
July: 6.6 percent
June: 6.6 percent
May: 5.8 percent
April: 5.3 percent
March: 5.9 percent
February: 6.2 percent
January: 6.3 percent

Edinburg Monthly Unemployment Rates, 2013

December: 6.1 percent
November: 6.3 percent
October: 6.9 percent
September: 6.9 percent
August: 7.2 percent
July: 7.5 percent
June: 7.6 percent
May: 6.9 percent
April: 6.4 percent
March: 6.8 percent
February: 7.1 percent
January: 7.2 percent

Because of substantial methodology changes between 2004 and 2005 in estimating city unemployment statistics, Texas city data is not available prior to 2005, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.
Because of substantial methodology changes in geographic areas below the state level, data from 2005 and 2004 or earlier is not considered comparable, the state agency explains.

Effective in March 2015, the TWC also notes that “for all sub-state LAUS estimates, a break in series exists between December 2009 and January 2010 due to a change in methodology used. The use of caution is advised when comparing data from prior to 2010 to that of 2010-present.

The Texas Workforce Commission data on all entities in the state, including cities and counties, is available online at:

http://www.tracer2.com/cgi/dataanalysis/AreaSelection.asp?tableName=Labforce

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The Edinburg Economic Development Corporation is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg City Council. It’s five-member governing board, which is appointed by the Edinburg City Council, includes Mayor Richard García as President, Fred Palacios as Secretary-Treasurer, and Felipe García, Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, and Steven Edward Cruz, II. For more information on the EEDC and the City of Edinburg, please log on to http://www.EdbgCityLimits.com or to http://www.facebook.com/edinburgedc

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