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Photograph By KRISTEN GARZA

Featured: Dr. Shervin Fatehi, left, and Dr. Javier Macossay examine a 3D-printed heart at their research lab in the Science Building on the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley campus in Edinburg. They recently were awarded a grant from startup company New Matter. The Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, along with the City of Edinburg, promote the best interests of UTRGV and the UTRGV School of Medicine through its extensive legislative lobbying efforts before the UT System Board of Regents, the Texas Legislature, and Congress.

Photograph By KRISTEN GARZA

Edinburg’s unemployment rate for March 2016 of 4.7 percent marked the third consecutive month that the city posted a monthly figure of less than five percent, with McAllen being the only other Valley city in that category, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. Edinburg’s March 2016 figure of 4.7 percent is the best showing for that month in almost a decade, when the city posted a 4.4 percent unemployment rate in March 2008.

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Edinburg’s unemployment rate in 2016 remains under five percent for third consecutive month, with March performance coming in at 4.7 percent

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

Edinburg’s unemployment rate for March 2016 of 4.7 percent marked the third consecutive month that the city posted a monthly figure of less than five percent, with McAllen being the only other Valley city in that category, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced

The March 2016 figure of 4.7 percent is the best showing for that month in almost a decade, when the city posted a 4.4 percent unemployment rate in March 2008.

Also according to the latest data, which was released on Friday, April 15, 2016 by the Texas Workforce Commission, there were 36,555 people employed in Edinburg during the month of March 2016.

That performance represents an increase of 819 jobs in Edinburg when comparing the employment figures for March 2016 (36,555) and March 2015 (35,736).

Edinburg’s latest showing also is better than the U.S. unemployment rate for March 2016, which was five percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000).

The city’s 4.7 percent figure in March 2016 is better than the annual unemployment rate in Edinburg for 2o15 of 5.1 percent. The 5.1 percent annual unemployment rate for the city in 2015 was the best yearly performance since 2008, when Edinburg registered a 4.9 percent annual unemployment figure.

The unemployment rate in March 2016 for Texas was 4.5 percent, while the annual unemployment rate in Texas for 2015 was 4.5 percent.

The EEDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council.

The EEDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mark Iglesias as President, Harvey Rodríguez as Vice President, Ellie M. Torres as Secretary/Treasurer, and Mayor Richard García and Richard Ruppert as Members.

Richard García and Agustín García, Jr. are not related.

During 2015, Edinburg had the Valley’s best unemployment rate in November (4.7 percent) and in September (5 percent), and tied with McAllen for the lowest monthly figures in October (4.9 percent) and January (5.2 percent), according to the latest figures released by the Texas Workforce Commission.

Edinburg’s annual unemployment rate for 2015 compared favorably with the Valley’s other major cities:

• The annual unemployment rate in McAllen for 2015 was 5 percent;
• The annual unemployment rate in Edinburg for 2015 was 5.1 percent;
• The annual unemployment rate in Harlingen for 2o15 was 5.9 percent;
• The annual unemployment rate in Mission for 2o15 was 6.2 percent;
• The annual unemployment rate in Weslaco for 2o15 was 6.5 percent;
• The annual unemployment rate in Pharr for 2o15 was 6.9 percent; and
• The annual unemployment rate in Brownsville for 2o15 was 7 percent.

Edinburg’s March 2016 figure of 4.7 percent is part of a consistent pattern of positive reports, including February 2016 (4.5 percent) and January 2016 (4.8 percent), and 2015’s showings – December (4.7 percent), November (4.7 percent), October (4.9 percent), September (5 percent), August (5.4 percent), July (5.7 percent), June (5.5 percent), May (5 percent), April (4.7 percent), March (4.8 percent), February (5 percent), and January (5.2 percent).

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: 2015 (5.1 percent), 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 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.

Also according to the Texas Workforce Commission, the major cities in the four-county Valley have recorded the following monthly unemployment rates in March 2016, February 2016 and January 2016, and for each month in 2015, including the annual unemployment rate for each city for 2015:

McAllen

March 2016: 4.6 percent; February 2015: 4.4 percent; January 2016: 4.7 percent.

Monthly Unemployment Rate 2015: December (4.5 percent), November (4.9 percent), October (4.9 percent), September (5.1 percent), August (5.2 percent), July (5.5 percent), June (5.4 percent), May (4.9 percent), April (4.5 percent), March (4.7 percent), February (4.9 percent), and January (5.2 percent).

2015 Annual Unemployment Rate: 5 percent.

Edinburg

March 2016: 4.7 percent; February 2016: 4.5 percent; January 2016: 4.8 percent.

Monthly Unemployment Rate 2015: December (4.7 percent), November (4.7 percent), October (4.9 percent), September (5 percent), August (5.4 percent), July (5.7 percent), June (5.5 percent), May (5 percent), April (4.7 percent), March (4.8 percent), February (5 percent), and January (5.2 percent).

2015 Annual Unemployment Rate: 5.1 percent.

Harlingen

March 2016: 5.5 percent; February 2016: 5.5 percent; January 2016: 5.6 percent.

Monthly Unemployment Rate 2015: December (5.3 percent), November (5.7 percent), October (5.7 percent), September (5.9 percent), August (6.2 percent), July (6.4 percent), June (6.4 percent), May (5.9 percent), April (5.5 percent), March (5.7 percent), February (5.9 percent), and January (6.5 percent).

2015 Annual Unemployment Rate: 5.9 percent.

Mission

March 2016: 6.3 percent; February 2016: 6 percent; January 2016: 6.3 percent.

Monthly Unemployment Rate 2015: December (6.1 percent), November (6.2 percent), October (6.1 percent); September (6.1 percent), August (6.4 percent), July (6.7 percent), June (6.7 percent), May (6.1 percent), April (5.7 percent), March (5.8 percent), February (6 percent), and January (6.4 percent).

2015 Annual Unemployment Rate: 6.2 percent.

Weslaco

March: 6 percent; February 2016: 6 percent; January 2016: 7.1 percent.

Monthly Unemployment Rate 2015: December (6.9 percent), November (6.7 percent), October (5.9 percent), September (6.7 percent), August (6.9 percent), July (6.7 percent), June (6.4 percent), May (6.1 percent), April (5.8 percent), March (6 percent), February (6.7 percent), and January (7.4 percent).

2015 Annual Unemployment Rate: 6.5 percent.

Pharr

March 2016: 6.3 percent; February 2o16: 6.3 percent; January 2016: 6.8 percent.

During 2015: December (7.1 percent), November (7.1 percent), (October 6.5 percent), September (6.6 percent), August (7.3 percent), July (7.6 percent), June (7.4 percent), May (6.4 percent), April (6.2 percent), March (6.5 percent), February (6.9 percent), and January (7.7 percent).

2015 Annual Unemployment Rate: 6.9 percent.

Brownsville

March: 6.9 percent; February: 6.8 percent; January 2016: 7 percent.

Monthly Unemployment Rate 2015: December (6.9 percent), November (6.9 percent), October (6.5 percent); September (6.6 percent), August (7 percent), July (7.2 percent), June (7.2 percent), May (6.7 percent), April (6.6 percent), March (7.1 percent), February (7.3 percent), and January (8 percent).

2015 Annual Unemployment Rate: 7 percent.

ADDITIONAL REGIONAL ECONOMIC STATISTICS

All cities combined in Hidalgo County averaged a 7.6 percent unemployment rate in March 2016, compared with 7.5 percent in February 2016, and 8.1 percent in January 2016.

The combined monthly unemployment rates in 2015 in Hidalgo County were as follows: December (7.9 percent), November (7.9 percent), October (7.4 percent), September (7.7 percent), August (8.3 percent), July (8.5 percent), June (8.4 percent), May (7.6 percent), April (7.4 percent), March (7.6 percent), February (8 percent), and January (8.5 percent).

The annual combined unemployment rate in Hidalgo County for 2o15 was 7.9 percent.

All cities combined in Cameron County averaged a 6.9 percent unemployment rate in March 2016, compared with 6.8 percent in February 2016 and 7.1 percent in January 2016.

The combined monthly unemployment rates in 2015 in Cameron County were as follows: December (6.8 percent), November (6.9 percent), October (6.7 percent), September (6.8 percent), August (7.1 percent), July (7.4 percent), June (7.5 percent), May (6.9 percent), April (6.8 percent), March (7.1 percent), February (7.4 percent), and January (7.9 percent).

The annual combined unemployment rate in Cameron County for 2o15 was 7.1 percent.

Also for March 2016, there were 313,927 individuals employed in Hidalgo County, while 156,591 persons were employed in Cameron County.

All cities combined in Starr County averaged a 14.5 percent unemployment rate in March 2016, compared with 13.9 percent in February 2016, and 14.3 percent in January 2016.

The combined monthly unemployment rates in 2015 in Starr County were as follows: December (13.7 percent), November (13.6 percent), October (12.9 percent), September (12.7 percent), August (13.7 percent), July (14.1 percent), June (14.2 percent), May (13 percent), April (13.1 percent), March (13.8 percent), February (13.9 percent), and January (14.4 percent).

The annual combined unemployment rate in Starr County for 2o15 was 13.6 percent.

All cities combined in Willacy County averaged a 12.6 percent unemployment rate in March 2016, compared with 12.1 percent in February 2016, and 12.6 percent in January 2016.

The combined monthly unemployment rates in 2015 in Willacy County were as follows: December (12.1 percent), November (12.6 percent), October (12.8 percent), September (12.6 percent), August (13.8 percent), July (14.4 percent), June (14.7 percent), May (13.5 percent), April (13.5 percent), March (13.2 percent), February (11.7 percent), and January (12.2 percent).

The annual combined unemployment rate in Willacy County for 2o15 was 13.1 percent.

For March 2016, there were 22,622 individuals employed in Starr County, while during the same month, 5,859 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 2016:

• Brownsville: 70,872
• McAllen: 61,217
• Edinburg: 36,555
• Mission: 31,683
• Pharr: 27,521
• Harlingen: 23,567
• Weslaco: 13,654

Edinburg 2016 Employment, By Month:

• March 2016: 36,555
• February 2016: 36,260
• January 2016: 35,793

Edinburg 2015 Employment, By Month:

• December 2015: 35,778
• November 2015: 35,541
• October 2015: 35,540
• September 2015: 35,327
• August 2015: 35,096
• July 2014: 35,088
• June 2015: 35,710
• May 2015: 36,112
• April 2015: 35,878
• March 2015: 35,736
• February 2015: 35,451
• January 2015: 35,392

Edinburg 2014 Employment, By Month:

• December 2014: 35,572
• November 2014: 35,601
• October 2014: 35,520
• September 2014: 35,155
• August 2014: 34,739
• July 2014: 34,645
• June 2014: 35,338
• May 2014: 35,529
• April 2014: 35,497
• March 2014: 35,336
• February 2014: 35,229
• January 2014: 35,111

Edinburg 2013 Employment, By Month:

• December 2013: 35,132
• November 2013: 34,881
• October 2013: 34,445
• September 2013: 34,370
• August 2013: 33,999
• July 2013: 33,798
• June 2013: 34,382
• May 2013: 34,546
• April 2013: 34,613
• March 2013: 34,291
• February 2013: 34,227
• January 2013: 34,167

Edinburg Monthly Unemployment Rates, 2014:

• December: 4.7 percent
• November: 5.2 percent
• October: 5.5 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: 6.4 percent
• October: 7 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

ADDED DIMENSION: UTRGV CHEMISTRY DEPARTMENT GRANT WILL FUND 3D PRINTERS

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Chemistry Department will soon own three 3D printers, increasingly important tools in education and research.

UTRGV Assistant Professor Shervin Fatehi and Professor Javier Macossay announced on Wednesday, April 6, 2016, that the university secured the “Educate and Inspire” grant from the 3D-printing start-up company New Matter. UTRGV was one of 100 institutions to receive this grant from among 450 applicants.

Fatehi said learning how to work with 3D printers will benefit students and faculty in the chemistry department.

“These machines are being used more in research and in the corporate settings, and we think it is important to have some experience using this kind of machine. Also, it will help make our graduates more valuable as employment prospects,” Fatehi said.

The grant will supply three MOD-t 3D printers, 15 spools of filament in a variety of colors, and five packs of replacement print surface plates, to be used to teach techniques for printing molecular models and train students and faculty in the use of 3D design technology.

“The basic principle behind this particular kind of 3D printer is being able to take a computer file that contains a description of the shape of this product and be able to create it,” Fatehi said.

Converting a digital representation of a 3D object into a real-life equivalent object is the basic principle behind all 3D printers, and one of the most interesting things about New Matter’s printers, Fatehi said, is that they aim to provide 3D-printing capability to regular consumers, along with low cost, high-ease use and a curated “app store” for object designs.

Fatehi said UTRGV’s printers will be used to replicate molecular models used in chemistry, and to expand modeling kits already in place that allow students to actually see concepts in chemistry.

The Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, along with the City of Edinburg, promote the best interests of UTRGV and the UTRGV School of Medicine through its extensive legislative lobbying efforts before the UT System Board of Regents, the Texas Legislature, and Congress.

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Vicky Brito contributed to this story. For more information on the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation and the City of Edinburg, please log on to http://edinburgedc.com or to http://www.facebook.com/edinburgedc

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