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Featured: Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, signs a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) with Somchai Wongkasem, President of Rajabhat Maha Sarakham University (RMU), on Friday, October 21, 2016, at the International Trade & Technology building on the UTRGV Edinburg Campus. RMU is located in the Muang District in northeastern Thailand. Rodríguez is a former member of the Board of Directors for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, which is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The Mayor, Edinburg City Council and EEDC lobbies the Texas Legislature and the UT System Board of Regents for advances that help UTRGV and its School of Medicine in Edinburg.

Photo By PAUL CHOUY

Edinburg and McAllen were the only two Valley cities which posted unemployment rates under 5.6 percent during the month of September 2016, according to the Texas Workforce Commission, which also reported on Friday, October 21, 2016, that Edinburg saw a growth of almost 1,000 jobs when comparing employment in September 2016 with September 2015. The Texas Workforce Commission reported that there were 36,302 people employed in Edinburg during the month of September 2016. That performance represents an increase of 975 jobs in Edinburg when comparing the employment figures for September 2016 (36,302) and September 2015 (35,327). That state agency found that McAllen and Edinburg came in with 5.2 percent and 5.5 percent unemployment rates, respectively, for the month of September 2016, according to the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation. 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 5.5 percent unemployment rate for September 2016 reflects 975 more jobs than September 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 5.6 percent during the month of September 2016, according to the Texas Workforce Commission, which also reported on Friday, October 21, 2016, that Edinburg saw a growth of almost 1,000 jobs when comparing employment in September 2016 with September 2015.

The Texas Workforce Commission reported that there were 36,302 people employed in Edinburg during the month of September 2016. That performance represents an increase of 975 jobs in Edinburg when comparing the employment figures for September 2016 (36,302) and September 2015 (35,327).

That state agency found that McAllen and Edinburg came in with 5.2 percent and 5.5 percent unemployment rates, respectively, for the month of September 2016, according to the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation.

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.

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

The state’s unemployment rate in September 2016 was 4.9 percent, compared with 4.5 percent in September 2015.

The U.S. unemployment rate in September 2016 was 5 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).

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 September 2016 figure of 5.5 percent is part of a consistent pattern of positive reports, including August 2016 (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) 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

September 2016: 5.2 percent; August 2016: 5.4 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

September: 5.5 percent; 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

September: 6.1 percent; 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

September 2016: 6.2 percent; 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

September 2016: 6.2 percent; 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

September: 6.7 percent; 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

September 2016: 7.8 percent; August 2016: 7.9 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 percent unemployment rate in September 2016, compared with 8.4 percent in August 2016, 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 7.5 percent unemployment rate in September 2016, compared with 7.6 percent in August 2016, 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 September 2016, there were 311,758 individuals employed in Hidalgo County, while 155,392 persons were employed in Cameron County during the same month.

All cities combined in Starr County averaged a 13.7 percent unemployment rate in September 2016, compared with 14.1 percent in August 2016, 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 12.9 percent unemployment rate in September 2016, compared with 13.3 percent in August 2016, 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 September 2016, there were 22,267 individuals employed in Starr County, while during the same month, 5,500 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, September 2016:

• Brownsville: 70,330
• McAllen: 60,794
• Edinburg: 36,302
• Mission: 31,464
• Pharr: 27,330
• Harlingen: 23,387
• Weslaco: 13,560

Edinburg 2016 Employment, By Month:

• September 2016: 36,302
• August 2016: 36,050
• 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 38,300 JOBS IN SEPTEMBER 2016

Texas grew by an estimated 38,300 nonfarm jobs in September. The state has added jobs in 17 of the last 18 months.

“Texas employers continue demonstrating their competitiveness by adding 38,300 jobs in September, for a total of 206,800 jobs added over the year,” said TWC Chairman Andrés Alcantar. “This continued growth in a diverse range of industries creates valuable opportunities for our state’s world-class workforce and builds on Texas’ continued success as a global economic leader.”

The Leisure and Hospitality industry recorded the largest industry employment gain over the month with 17,900 jobs added. Professional and Business services employment grew by 6,000 jobs in September. Construction employment expanded for the third consecutive month with the addition of 3,400 jobs.

“Private-sector employment was strong over the year with the overall job growth of 162,600 and 31,600 jobs added in September,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs. “Texas is a state that continues to welcome new employers and work with our homegrown businesses, offering them the tools they need to grow and succeed.”

The Amarillo and Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) recorded the month’s lowest unemployment rate among Texas MSAs with a non-seasonally adjusted rate of 3.5 percent, followed by the Lubbock MSA with a rate of 3.6 percent and the College Station-Bryan MSA with a rate of 3.7 for September.

“Our economy continues to offer many diverse opportunities to job seekers” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julián Álvarez. “I encourage those seeking these opportunities to take advantage of the workforce services available through their local Workforce Solutions office for help finding the job that’s right for them.”

An audio download with comments from Chairman Alcantar with the latest labor market data is 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.

INTERNATIONAL TIES: UTRGV COEC SIGNS MOU WITH UNIVERSITY IN THAILAND

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Rajabhat Maha Sarakham University (RMU), a nonprofit university in the Muang District in northeastern Thailand.

The signing took place at an 8:30 a.m. ceremony on Friday, October 21, 2016 at the ITT International Room on the Edinburg Campus.

The goal of the MOU is to create a means for cooperative efforts between UTRGV and RMU for academic interchange of faculty, students, and academic and research information between the two institutions.

RMU was founded in 1925 and has 10 colleges, 22,000 students and more than 500 professors. The university offers a variety of educational programs from bachelor to doctoral levels in education, liberal arts, science and business.

Dr. Dennis Hart, Associate Provost of the UTRGV Office of Global Engagement, introduced the RMU delegation of deans and professors. In all, six representatives from Thailand made the 34-hour journey to UTRGV for the MOU signing.

Dr. Nantakan Wongkasem, UTRGV Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and the daughter of RMU President Somchai Wongkasem, provided translation for the RMU visitors.

The RMU president initially asked his daughter, UTRGV’s Dr. Wongkasem, about starting a collaboration with RMU’s two-year-old engineering department. Dr. Wongkasem then reached out to Dr. Alex Domijan, Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

“They said that it is good that UTRGV has its college of engineering here so we can work together, because the RMU president knew that we can help each other, and work together in research and teaching,” Dr. Wongkasem said.

RMU has a handful of MOU agreements in various university departments across the United States. UTRGV is RMU’s first partnering in a higher education institution in Texas.

Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, UTRGV Provost and Executive Vice President of Student Affairs, gave the opening remarks at the signing ceremony.

“Our university is your university,” Rodríguez told the Thai delegates. “Thank you so much for being here. We understand it was a very long flight, and we appreciate your commitment to doing this. For us, it is an honor and a pleasure to be signing this MOU with you.”

The provost pointed out the similarities between the two institutions.

“RMU went through many changes of names and composition of the university, just as we have,” Rodríguez said. “We are both over 20,000 students, and have similar numbers of faculties. It almost seems like we are sister institutions.”

Domijan, in his remarks at the signing, said this cooperative agreement with RMU fits in well with the four major goals of the UTRGV College of Engineering and Computer Science:

• To provide multinational learning in an innovative environment.
• To conduct research that has global impact.
• To develop opportunities for student engagement and scholarly activity.
• To create an ecosystem that attracts and develops new industries.

“We have to connect ourselves with new industries and provide financial opportunities to our students, so we can move forward in our economy,” Domijan said. “Our students need to be prepared to develop and deliver upon those dreams.”

Dr. Wongkasem translated for her father, and spoke in English on his behalf.

“He thanks you for your welcome, and it is such an honor that he can come to UTRGV and thank you for your kindness,” she said in translation.

President Wongkasem said 5 percent of RMU’s $400 million budget is devoted to research.

“They are still working on expanding the school and hope to have a medical school,” Dr. Wongkasem translated for the RMU president. “It’s very important to come here and to have the MOU with UTRGV because we are looking forward to a fruitful collaboration, so we can work together in research … and to help with corporations and companies, in order to build innovation. We can use what we already have to build innovation together.”

Deans from a variety of RMU colleges attended the MOU signing and met with UTRGV deans in their related departments to initiate communications for possible future collaborations.

“They can talk about their research and learn from each other as pioneers in their fields, and work together,” Dr. Wongkasem said. “This is very beneficial to both institutions.”

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Vicky Brito 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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