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Featured: Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, on Friday, August 26, 2016, gave welcoming remarks for the university’s first Project Sin Fronteras banquet, hosted by the UTRGV Office of Sustainability at the Embassy Suites McAllen Convention Center. Rodríguez is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, which is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The Edinburg EDC, its Board of Directors, the Edinburg Mayor and the Edinburg City Council lobby the Texas Legislature and the UT System Board of Regents 0n behalf of UTRGV and its School of Medicine in Edinburg.

Photograph By PAUL CHOUY

Edinburg and McAllen were the only two Valley cities which posted unemployment rates under 5.5 percent during the month of August 2016, according to the Texas Workforce Commission, which also reported on Friday, September 16, 2016, that Edinburg saw a growth of almost 1,000 jobs when comparing employment in August 2016 with August 2015. Edinburg’s 5.4 percent unemployment rate for August 2016 is the same as the August 2015 level (5.4 percent), and both of those figures were the best for that month since August 2008, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. McAllen’s 5.3 percent unemployment rate for August 2016 was the best showing among all Valley cities for that month. The Texas Workforce Commission reported that there were 36,091 people employed in Edinburg during the month of August 2016. That performance represents an increase of 995 jobs in Edinburg when comparing the employment figures for August 2016 (36,091) and August 2015 (35,096). The Edinburg EDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr. as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Ruppert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members. Richard García and Agustín García, Jr. are not related.

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Edinburg’s 5.4 percent unemployment rate for August 2016 reflects 995 more jobs than August 2015, Texas Workforce Commission reports

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

Edinburg and McAllen were the only two Valley cities which posted unemployment rates under 5.5 percent during the month of August 2016, according to the Texas Workforce Commission, which also reported on Friday, September 16, 2016, that Edinburg saw a growth of almost 1,000 jobs when comparing employment in August 2016 with August 2015.

Edinburg’s 5.4 percent unemployment rate for August 2016 is the same as the August 2015 level (5.4 percent), and both of those figures were the best for that month since August 2008, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced.

McAllen’s 5.3 percent unemployment rate for August 2016 was the best showing among all Valley cities for that month.

The Texas Workforce Commission reported that there were 36,091 people employed in Edinburg during the month of August 2016. That performance represents an increase of 995 jobs in Edinburg when comparing the employment figures for August 2016 (36,091) and August 2015 (35,096).

In addition to July 2016, when Edinburg’s unemployment rate of 5.5 percent was tied for lowest with McAllen, Edinburg in 2015 posted the Valley’s lowest unemployment rates 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 the Texas Workforce Commission.

During this 20-month period (January 2015 through August 2016), when Edinburg did not have the lowest monthly figure, it came in a close second to McAllen.

The state’s unemployment rate in August 2016 was 5 percent, compared with 4.6 percent in August 2015.

The U.S. unemployment rate in August 2016 was 4.9 percent, compared with 5.1 percent the same month last year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000).

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

The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr. as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Ruppert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members.

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

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 August 2016 figure of 5.4 percent is part of a consistent patter of positive reports, including July 2016 (5.5 percent), June 2016 (5.4 percent), May 2016 (4.5 percent) April 2016 (4.5 percent), March 2016 (4.7 percent), 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 2016, and for each month in 2015, including the annual unemployment rate for each city for 2015:

McAllen

August 2016: 5.3 percent; July 2016: 5.5 percent; June 2016: 5.1 percent; May 2016: 4.4 percent; April 2016: 4.5 percent; 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

August: 5.4 percent; July 2016: 5.5 percent: June 2016: 5.4 percent: May 2016: 4.5 percent; April 2016: 4.5 percent; 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

August: 6.2 percent; July 2016: 6 percent; June 2016: 5.7 percent; May 2016: 5.3 percent; April 2016: 5.2 percent; 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

August: 6.3 percent; July 2016: 6.6 percent; June 2016: 6.3 percent; May 2016: 5.7 percent; April 2016: 6 percent; 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

August 2016: 6.5 percent; July 2016: 6.9 percent; June 2016: 6.7 percent; May 2016: 5.2 percent; April 2016: 5.3 percent; 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

August 2016: 6.9 percent; July 2016: 7.1 percent: June 2016: 6.9 percent; May 2016: 5.7 percent; April 2016: 5.9 percent; 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

August 2016: 8 percent; July 2016: 8 percent; June: 7.8 percent; May: 6.6 percent; April: 6.7 percent; 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 an 8.4 percent unemployment rate in August 2016, compared with 8.5 percent in July, 8.2 percent in June 2016, 7 percent in May 2016, 7.2 percent in April 2016, 7.6 percent in March 2016, 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 7.6 percent unemployment rate in August 2016, compared with 7.7 percent in July 2016, 7.5 percent in June 2016, 6.6 percent in May 2016, 6.7 percent in April 2016, 6.9 percent in March 2016, 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 August 2016, there were 309,939 individuals employed in Hidalgo County, while 156,329 persons were employed in Cameron County during the same month.

All cities combined in Starr County averaged a 14.1 percent unemployment rate in August 2016, compared with 14.4 percent in July 2016, 14 percent in June 2016, 12.4 percent in May 2016, 13.5 percent in April 2016, 14.5 percent in March 2016, 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 13.3 percent unemployment rate in August 2016, compared with 14.2 percent in July 2016, 13.9 percent in June 2016, 12.4 percent in May 2016, 12.3 percent in April 2016, 12.6 percent in March 2016, 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 August 2016, there were 22,230 individuals employed in Starr County, while during the same month, 5,548 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, August 2016:

Edinburg 2016 Employment, By Month:

• August 2016: 36,091
• July 2016: 35,725
• June 2016: 36,367
• May 2016: 36,758
• April 2016: 36,608
• March 2016: 36,649
• 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 2015: 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

• Annual Unemployment Rate: 5.8 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

• Annual Unemployment Rate: 6.9 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

TEXAS ECONOMY ADDS 21,200 JOBS IN AUGUST

Texas grew by an estimated 21,400 nonfarm jobs in August 2016, according to the Texas Workforce Commission, which also provide the following other findings:

The state has added jobs in 16 of the last 17 months.

“Texas employers added 190,600 jobs over the past year, with the diversity of our economy highlighted by nine out of eleven industries adding jobs,” said Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Andrés Alcantar. “TWC will continue to build partnerships that provide workers with in-demand skills to boost job creation.”

The Financial Activities industry recorded the largest industry employment gain over the month with 6,200 jobs added. Trade, Transportation and Utilities employment added 4,000 jobs in August. Construction employment expanded for the second consecutive month with the addition of 1,300 jobs.

“Private-sector employment was strong over the year with the overall job growth of 150,900 and 18,500 jobs added in August,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs. “The fact that our state has added jobs for 16 of the last 17 months is a credit to the diversity and resilience of employers in Texas.”

The Amarillo Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) recorded the lowest unemployment rate for August with a 3.4 percent rate for the month. The Austin-Round Rock MSA had the second-lowest rate at 3.5 percent followed by the Lubbock MSA with a rate of 3.8 percent.

“Texas workers have much to offer and there are resources available to help them find the perfect occupational fit, I encourage all job seekers to contact their local Workforce Solutions office for assistance with job training and placement,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julián Álvarez.

Audio downloads with comments from Commissioner Hughs on the latest labor market data are available on the TWC website press release page. Employment estimates released by TWC are produced in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. All estimates are subject to revision. To access this and more employment data, visit tracer2.com.

UTRGV SUSTAINABILITY INNOVATORS CELEBRATE ACHIEVEMENTS IN EDUCATION

Deans, faculty and staff of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley recently celebrated the advancement of sustainable development through academics, during the first Project Sin Fronteras Honors Banquet held at the Embassy Suites by Hilton McAllen Convention Center Hotel.

Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at UTRGV, and a former member of the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors, welcomed everyone to the event, which was held on Friday, August 26, 2016.

The Edinburg EDC,its Board of Directors, the Edinburg Mayor and the Edinburg City Council lobby the Texas Legislature and the UT System Board of Regents 0n behalf of UTRGV and its School of Medicine in Edinburg.

“When Project Sin Fronteras was launched in 2014, we did not realize the transformative impact of this initiative, that an extensive number of faculty would be actively engaged in infusing sustainability and sustainable development throughout the curriculum, and that sustainable development would be integrated into several hundred courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels at UTRGV,” he said.

Those achievements were possible because of the leadership and hard work from in the university’s Office for Sustainability, as well as the active engagement and commitment of dozens of UTRGV faculty.

“UTRGV is committed to the continued success of these types of programs, including Project Sin Fronteras, and engaging students, faculty, staff and the external community in these very important initiatives,” Rodríguez said.

At the Friday, August 26, 2016 banquet, five professors were recognized for their exceptional efforts to institutionalize sustainable development through academics and research. Rodríguez and Chief Sustainability Officer Marianella Franklin presented the awards to:

• María Leonard, Vackar College of Business & Entrepreneurship;
• Dr. Mohammed Jasim Uddin, College of Sciences;
• Dr. Immanuel Edinbarough, College of Engineering and Computer Science;
• Dr. Owen Temby, College of Liberal Arts; and
• Dr. Alexis Racelis, College of Sciences (Dean Parwinder Grewal accepted on Dr. Racelis’ behalf).

The dinner marked a milestone for UTRGV as it develops new strategic goals to increase the welfare of students and the community, while fostering the well-being of the environment and providing a quality, affordable education.

Tony Forina, UTRGV Athletics Sales and Broadcast Specialist, served as Master of Ceremonies.

Guest speakers included South Padre Island Mayor Barry Patel, and Dr. Denice Wardrop, Director of the Sustainability Institute at Penn State University.

ABOUT PROJECT SIN FRONTERAS

Developed in 2014, Project Sin Fronteras (PSF) is a transformational platform that infuses sustainability concepts and practices into the UTRGV curriculum and systems. This innovative approach to education for sustainable development provides participants with information, training and skills to produce new or revised sustainability focused or related courses. With its pioneering approach, basic concepts are used to incorporate collaborative, interdisciplinary service learning, connecting student and faculty research and learning with the community. During the past three cohorts, 55 faculty from 11 colleges, among others, have provided more than 300 sustainability courses influencing more than 5,100 UTRGV students. The Office for Sustainability has managed this initiative.

For more information about the Office for Sustainability, visit http://www.utrgv.edu/sustainability/.

PHOTO GALLERY: https://www.flickr.com/gp/utrgvnews/bGHo8e

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Marcia Caltabiano and Lisa Givens 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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