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Featured, from left: Nelda Ramírez, Assistant Executive Director, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; Agustín “Gus” García, Jr., Executive Director, EEDC; David Torres, newly-elected Edinburg City Councilmember; Mayor Richard García, who also serves as President of the EEDC Board of Directors; Cynthia Contreras Gutiérrez, Legal Counsel, EEDC; and Steven Cruz, III, immediate past member of the EEDC Board of Directors, at Edinburg City Hall on Wednesday, May 13, 2015.

Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR

Edinburg’s unemployment rate for April 2015 was 4.6 percent, representing the third consecutive month that the city posted a monthly rate under five percent, with McAllen, at 4.5 percent, being the only 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 calculated by the Texas Workforce Commission, was the best showing for the city during that month since April 2008, when it was reported at four 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. This latest positive news comes as Mayor Richard García , who also serves as President of the EEDC Board of Directors, is preparing to deliver his State of the City Address on Wednesday, May 27, at Edinburg Municipal Auditorium. The Edinburg Municipal Auditorium is located at 415 West University Drive, and is part of the Edinburg City Hall complex. His presentation, which is free and open to the public, begins at 11:30 a.m. It also will be televised live and videotaped for later broadcasting by the Edinburg Cable Network. “The annual presentation brings residents, city staff and civic leaders together to reflect on the city’s accomplishments from the past year and to review plans for the future,” said García. Edinburg’s April 2015 figure was lower than March 2015 (4.8 percent), February 2015 (4.8 percent), and January 2015 (5.1 percent). Edinburg’s April 2015 unemployment rate of 4.6 percent remained close to the Texas statewide average, which was four percent for April 2015, 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 April 2015, which was 5.4 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. The data represents an increase of 106 jobs in Edinburg when comparing the employment figures for April 2015 and April 2014. In April 2015, there were 35,480 persons employed in Edinburg, compared with 35,374 in April 2014. The April 2015 unemployment rate of 4.6 percent for Edinburg is also better than the annual unemployment rate in Edinburg for 2014, which was 5.8 percent – and that yearly rate was the best 12-month average from January through December since 2005.

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Edinburg’s unemployment rate improves to 4.6 percent for April 2015 as Mayor Richard García set to deliver annual State of the City Address, open to the public, on Wednesday, May 27 at Edinburg Municipal Auditorium

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

Edinburg’s unemployment rate for April 2015 was 4.6 percent, representing the third consecutive month that the city posted a monthly rate under five percent, with McAllen, at 4.5 percent, being the only 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 calculated by the Texas Workforce Commission, was the best showing for the city during that month since April 2008, when it was reported at four 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.

This latest positive news comes as Mayor Richard García, who al so serves as President of the EEDC Board of Directors, is preparing to deliver his State of the City Address on Wednesday, May 27, at Edinburg Municipal Auditorium.

The Edinburg Municipal Auditorium is located at 415 West University Drive, and is part of the Edinburg City Hall complex.

His presentation, which is free and open to the public, begins at 11:30 a.m. It also will be televised live and videotaped for later broadcasting by the Edinburg Cable Network.

“The annual presentation brings residents, city staff and civic leaders together to reflect on the city’s accomplishments from the past year and to review plans for the future,” said García.

Edinburg’s April 2015 figure is lower than March 2015 (4.8 percent), February 2015 (4.8 percent) and January 2015 (5.1 percent) .

Edinburg’s April 2015 unemployment rate of 4.6 percent remained close to the Texas statewide average, which was four percent for April 2015, 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 April 2015, which was 5.4 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The data represents an increase of 106 jobs in Edinburg when comparing the employment figures for April 2015 and April 2014. In April 2015, there were 35,480 persons employed in Edinburg, compared with 35,374 in April 2014.

The April 2015 unemployment rate of 4.6 percent for Edinburg is also better than the annual unemployment rate in Edinburg for 2014, which was 5.8 percent – and that yearly rate was the best 12-month average from January through December since 2005.

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.

• McAllen, 4.5 percent (4.7 percent in March, 4.7 percent in February, 5.0 percent in January);
• Edinburg, 4.6 percent (4.8 percent in March, 4.8 percent in February, 5.1 percent in January);
• Harlingen, 5.5 percent (5.6 percent in March, 5.7 percent in February, 6.3 percent in January);
• Mission, 5.6 percent (5.7 percent in March, 5.8 percent in February, 6.3 percent in January);
• Weslaco, 5.7 percent (6.0 percent in March, 6.4 percent in February, 7.2 percent in January);
• Pharr, 6.1 percent (6.4 percent in March, 6.7 percent in February, 7.5 percent in January); and
• Brownsville, 6.6 percent (7.1 percent in March, 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.

POPULATION GROWTH RATE, PROXIMITY TO MEXICO SHAPING VALLEY ECONOMY

Workforce Solutions, which is under the direction of the Texas Workforce Commission, is one of 28 local workforce development boards located throughout the state, according to TWC.

The local workforce development board serves Starr, Hidalgo and Willacy counties through a network of partners. The primary goal of TWC and the 28 local workforce development boards is to respond to the needs of Texas employers and workers through locally-designed market-driven workforce development initiatives.

With the Valley’s population increasing at a higher rate than the state average, that growth brings advantages and drawbacks to the four-county Rio Grande Valley, which has a population approaching 1.4 million, according to Mike Willis, Senior Business Relations Representative for Texas Workforce Solutions in McAllen.

“I am seeing the competition for skilled labor in our region increase, and I believe wage rates will rise dramatically in the Rio Grande Valley for these types of jobs going forward,” Willis predicted in his April Labor Market Report/Analysis that he distributed to political and economic development leaders in deep South Texas on Friday, May 22.

“Some of the reasons EDCs (economic development corporations) in the region encourage and promote recruitment and development of Advanced Manufacturing jobs is they are high value, the goods-producing sectors create more spinoff jobs than the service sector, and many of them believe there is a need to diversify our economy and not be totally dependent on service jobs,” Willis noted.

Manufacturing now represents only 2.5 percent of the total employment in Hidalgo County, he said.

According to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology Report to the President on Ensuring American Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing:

Advanced Manufacturing is “a family of activities that (a) depend on the use and coordination of information, automation, computation, software, sensing, and networking, and/or (b) make use of cutting edge materials and emerging capabilities enabled by the physical and biological sciences, for example nanotechnology, chemistry, and biology. This involves both new ways to manufacture existing products, and especially the manufacture of new products emerging from new advanced technologies.”

“Our proximity to Mexico also presents opportunities to capture component manufacturers and other suppliers in our region, who are relocating to the area to be closer to their manufacturing customers in Mexico,” he added.

Many of the Valley’s challenges and opportunities reflect different conditions which are more unique to deep South Texas.

“The differences between our region’s economy and the state are fairly dramatic. When you understand that we have a 3 percent population growth rate compared to a 2 percent state rate, it helps put things in perspective,” Willis observed. “Our economy is anchored by three sectors that are driven by our proximity to Mexico and our strong population growth rate: trade, transportation and utilities (primarily retail trade), government (primarily public education, followed by law enforcement), and education and health services (primarily healthcare, including the home health subsector).”

Even entry-level talent is getting harder to find, and local businesses are beginning to raise unskilled labor wages as well, he reported.

“Several well-publicized decisions to raise entry level wages in the retail and restaurant sectors to $9-$10/hr across the nation are creating a ripple effect here too,” Willis said. “Obviously, this is good news for entry-level workers, not-so-good news for companies struggling to keep their businesses profitable.”

But ongoing local and regional efforts to increase educational opportunities for South Texans do have positive effects, as evidenced by the salaries commanded by professionals in the Valley.

“As we all know, there is a tremendous disparity in wages in the border region compared to the rest of the state for a variety of reasons,” he said. “Most of the sectors that employ a high percentage of middle and high skilled people show labor rates that are anywhere from 40 percent to 100 percent higher in the rest of the state.”

However, when analyzing the healthcare and government sectors in the Valley, “these are two sectors that recruit and compete for talent in either a regional or statewide labor market, so their wage rates tend to be more competitive with the rest of the state,” Willis noted. “For example, government workers, school teachers and registered nurses can get jobs anywhere, and local labor rates do not show as large a gap between wages here and in the rest of the state.”

According to Workforce Solutions, its goals are to provide job seekers with the skills, and business with the talent, they need to be successful.

Furthermore, WFS is guided by three Key Strategic Imperatives:

• Understand the needs of the business community to ensure a demand-driven system;
• Prepare a job-ready workforce and foster external partnerships that promote educational and skill attainment; and
• Build strategic partnerships to leverage resources for our customers.

WFS is governed by a group of four Chief Elected Officials (CEOs) and a Board of Directors (BoDs). The group of CEOs is comprised of the three currently elected county judges and the mayor of the most populated city, while the BoDs consists of 25 members representative of the private sector, as well as education, community based organizations, labor, vocational rehabilitation, public assistance, and employment services.

OTHER KEY REGIONAL, LOCAL ECONOMIC INDICATORS

All cities combined in Hidalgo County averaged a 7.3 percent unemployment rate in April 2015, representing improvements from 7.6 percent in March 2015, 7.7 percent in February 2015 and 8.3 percent in January 2015.

All cities combined in Cameron County averaged a 6.7 percent unemployment rate in April 2015, an improvement from 7.1 percent in March 2015, 7.2 percent in February 2015 and 7.8 percent in January 2015.

Also for April 2015, there were 307,224 individuals employed in Hidalgo County, while 154,047 persons were employed in Cameron County.

All cities combined in Starr County averaged a 12.7 percent unemployment rate in April 2015, an improvement from 13.5 percent in March 2015, 13.4 percent in February 2015, and 13.9 percent in January 2015.

All cities combined in Willacy County averaged a 12.2 percent unemployment rate in April 2015, the same as in March 2015, but higher than 11.1 percent in February 2015 and 11.6 percent in January 2015.

For April 2015, there were 23,062 individuals employed in Starr County, while during the same month, 6,558 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, April 2015:

Brownsville: 69,786
McAllen: 60,155
Edinburg: 35,480
Mission: 31,050
Pharr: 26,852
Harlingen: 23,269
Weslaco: 13,425

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 Mayor and the Edinburg City Council. It’s five-member governing board, which is appointed by the Edinburg City Council, includes Mayor Richard García as President, Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, Ronnie Guerra, Mark Iglesias, and Harvey Rodríguez. 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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