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For fourth consecutive month, Edinburg registers Valley’s lowest unemployment rate – 4.5 percent in May 2018 – an increase of 898 jobs compared with May 2017 figure

Featured: Dr. Dean Kyne of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Department of Sociology and Anthropology is part of team of UTRGV professors researching the Valley’s hurricane preparedness, including studying factors in residents’ evacuation decisions and their ability to prepare for and bounce back from hurricanes. The Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council, along with the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation and its Board of Directors, lobby the Texas Legislature and the UT System Board of Regents on matters that benefit and protect UTRGV and its School of Medicine, which have major campuses in the city.

Photograph By MALENA HERNÁNDEZ

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For fourth consecutive month, Edinburg registers Valley’s lowest unemployment rate – 4.5 percent in May 2018 – an increase of 898 jobs compared with May 2017 figure

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

For the fourth consecutive month, Edinburg posted the lowest unemployment rate in the Rio Grande Valley, coming in at 4.5 percent for May 2018, with 39,215 individuals employed that month in the city, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced.

Edinburg was one of two Rio Grande Valley economies for May 2018 which had an unemployment rate of less than five percent. McAllen was the other community, also coming in with a 4.5 percent unemployment rate for May 2018.

For May 2018, there were 39,215 individuals employed in the city, compared with 38,317 persons working in May 2017 – representing an addition of 898 jobs, according to the Texas Workforce Commission, which released statewide figures on Friday, June 15, 2018.

Also, Edinburg saw a growth of 10 jobs when comparing the monthly total for May 2018 (39,215) and April 2018 (39,205), the Texas Workforce Commission also reported.

The unemployment rate for Edinburg during April 2018 also was 4.5 percent.

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

The Edinburg EDC, of which Joey Treviño is the Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of Mayor Richard Molina, Mayor Pro-Tem David Torres, Councilmember Homer Jasso, Jr., Councilmember Gilbert Enríquez, and Councilmember Jorge Salinas.

The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Councilmember Enríquez as President, Edinburg School Board Trustee Miguel “Mike” Farías as Vice-President, Councilmember Salinas as Secretary/Treasurer, and Mayor Molina and Mayor Pro Tem Torres as Members.

In addition, the May 2018 unemployment rate of 4.5 percent represents the fifth time during that month that the city’s unemployment rate has been below five percent since 2005, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.

The number of jobs in Edinburg is independently documented by the Texas Workforce Commission, a state agency with many key duties, such as maintaining and reporting on key trends in state and local economies, including unemployment rates and the number of people employed in cities.

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.

For the past several years, Edinburg has registered the lowest or second-lowest monthly unemployment rate among all Valley cities.

Edinburg’s May 2018 unemployment rate of 4.5 percent is part of a consistent pattern of positive reports, including the April 2018 unemployment rate of 4.5 percent, March 2018 (4.7), February 2018 (4.9 percent), January 2018 (5.2 percent), December 2017 (4.8 percent), November 2017 (4.8 percent), October 2017 (4.9 percent), September 2017 (5.3 percent), August 2017 (6 percent), July (5.7 percent), June 2017 (5.6), May 2017 (4.9 percent), April 2017 (4.8 percent), March 2017 (5.4 percent), February 2017 (5.9 percent) and January 2017 (6.1 percent).

According to the Texas Workforce Commission, for the month of May 2018, these are the employment figures for the seven largest cities in the Valley:

Brownsville: 71,223
McAllen: 63,822
Edinburg: 39,215
Mission: 32,633
Pharr: 28,681
Harlingen: 23,450
Weslaco: 14,770

CITY’S MONTHLY, ANNUAL UNEMPLOYMENT REMAIN AMONG BEST IN VALLEY

Edinburg’May 2018 unemployment rate and the latest figures from the Valley’s most populated cities follow:

Edinburg: 4.5 percent
McAllen: 4.5 percent
Mission: 5.6 percent
Harlingen: 6 percent
Brownsville: 6.1 percent
Pharr: 6.7 percent
Weslaco: 7 percent

The state’s unemployment rate in May 2018 was 3.7 percent, compared with 4.1 percent in May 2017.

The U.S. unemployment rate in May 2018 was 3.8 percent, compared with 4.3 percent the same month the previous year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000).

Edinburg’s annual unemployment rate for 2017 compared favorably with the Valley’s other major cities:

The annual unemployment rate in McAllen for 2017 was 5.1 percent;
The annual unemployment rate in Edinburg for 2017 was 5.3 percent;
The annual unemployment rate in Harlingen for 2o17 was 6.4 percent;
The annual unemployment rate in Mission for 2o17 was 6.8 percent;
The annual unemployment rate in Brownsville for 2017 was 7.2 percent;
The annual unemployment rate in Weslaco for 2o17 was 8 percent; and
The annual unemployment rate in Pharr for 2o17 was 8.1 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: 2017 (5.3 percent), 2016 (5.8 percent), 2015 (5 percent), 2014 (5.8 percent), 2013 (7 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).

Edinburg’s 2018 employment, by month, follows:

May: 39,215
April: 39,205
March: 39,203
February: 38,964
January: 38,514

Edinburg’s 2017 employment, by month, follows:

December: 38,595
November: 38,396
October: 38,181
September: 38,007
August: 37,442
July: 37,237
June: 38,047
May: 38,317
April: 38,407
March: 38,160
February: 37,895
January: 37,738

Also according to the Texas Workforce Commission, the major cities in the four-county Valley have recorded the following monthly unemployment rates in 2017,  2016, and 2015:

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EDINBURG

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2018

May: 4.5 percent
April: 4.5 percent
March: 4.7 percent
February: 4.9 percent
January: 5.2 percent

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2017

December: 4.8 percent
November 2017: 4.8 percent
October 2017: 4.9 percent
September 2017: 5.3 percent
August: 6 percent
July: 5.7 percent
June: 5.6 percent
May: 4.9 percent
April: 4.8 percent
March: 5.4 percent
February: 5.9 percent
January: 6.1 percent

2017 Annual Unemployment Rate: 5.3 percent

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2016 

December: 5.7 percent
November: 5.6 percent
October: 5.7 percent
September: 6.2 percent
August: 6.2 percent
July: 6.4 percent
June: 6.3 percent
May: 5.2 percent
April: 5.3 percent
March: 5.5 percent
February: 5.3 percent
January: 5.7 percent

2016 Annual Unemployment Rate: 5.8 percent

Monthly Unemployment Rate 2015

December: 4.7 percent
November: 4.6 percent
October: 4.9 percent
September: 5 percent
August: 5.4 percent
July: 5.7 percent
June: 5.5 percent
May: 5.1 percent
April: 4.6 percent
March: 4.8 percent
February: 4.9 percent
January: 5.2 percent

2015 Annual Unemployment Rate: 5 percent

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McALLEN

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2018

May: 4.5 percent
April: 4.8 percent
March: 5 percent
February: 4.9 percent
January: 5 percent

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2017

December: 4.4 percent
November: 4.5 percent
October: 4.4 percent
September: 4.7 percent
August: 5.4 percent
July: 5.4 percent
June: 5.4 percent
May: 5.1 percent
April: 5 percent
March: 5.4 percent
February: 5.8 percent
January: 5.8 percent

2017 Annual Unemployment Rate: 5.1 percent

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2016

December: 5.4 percent
November: 5.1 percent
October: 5.3 percent
September: 5.8 percent
August: 6 percent
July: 6 percent
June: 5.8 percent
May: 4.9 percent
April: 5 percent
March: 5.1 percent
February: 5 percent
January: 5.2 percent

2016 Annual Unemployment Rate: 5.4 percent

Monthly Unemployment Rate 2015

December: 4.5 percent
November: 4.8 percent
October: 4.9 percent
September: 5.1 percent
August: 5.2 percent
July: 5.6 percent
June: 5.4 percent
May: 4.9 percent
April: 4.5 percent
March: 4.7 percent
February: 4.8 percent
January: 5.2 percent

2015 Annual Unemployment Rate: 5 percent

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MISSION

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2018

May: 5.6 percent
April: 6 percent
March: 6.1 percent
February: 6 percent
January: 6.4 percent

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2017

December: 5.7 percent
November: 5.7 percent
October: 5.7 percent
September: 6.4 percent
August: 7.1 percent
July: 7.2 percent
June: 7.2 percent
May: 6.3 percent
April: 6.6 percent
March: 7.2 percent
February: 7.7 percent
January: 8.3 percent

2017 Annual Unemployment Rate: 6.8 percent

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2016

December: 7.4 percent
November: 7.1 percent
October: 6.9 percent
September: 7.3 percent
August: 7.6 percent
July: 7.9 percent
June: 7.8 percent
May: 6.8 percent
April: 7.1 percent
March: 7.4 percent
February: 7.3 percent
January: 7.6 percent

2016 Annual Unemployment Rate: 7.4 percent

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2015 

December: 6.1 percent
November: 6.1 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: 5.9 percent
January: 6.4 percent

2015 Annual Unemployment Rate: 6.2 percent

••••••

HARLINGEN

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2018

May: 6 percent
April: 5.8 percent
March: 6.1 percent
February: 6.2 percent
January: 6 percent

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2017

December: 5.4 percent
November: 5.9 percent
October: 5.5 percent
September: 5.9 percent
August: 6.7 percent
July: 6.7 percent
June: 6.6 percent
May: 6.2 percent
April: 6.3 percent
March: 6.8 percent
February: 7.1 percent
January: 7 percent

2017 Annual Unemployment Rate: 6.4 percent

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2016

December: 6.2 percent
November: 6.1 percent
October: 6.4 percent
September: 6.5 percent
August: 6.6 percent
July 2016: 6.3 percent
June 2016: 6.3 percent
May 2016: 5.7 percent
April 2016: 5.7 percent
March 2016: 5.8 percent
February 2016: 5.8 percent
January 2016: 5.7 percent

2016 Annual Unemployment Rate: 6.1 percent

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2015

December: 5.3 percent
November: 5.6 percent
October: 5.7 percent
September: 5.9 percent
August: 6.2 percent
July: 6.4 percent
June: 6.4 percent
May: 6 percent
April: 5.5 percent
March: 5.7 percent
February: 5.9 percent
January: 6.5 percent

2015 Annual Unemployment Rate: 5.9 percent

••••••

BROWNSVILLE

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2018

May: 6.1 percent
April: 6.5 percent
March: 6.7 percent
February: 6.9 percent
January: 7.1 percent

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2017

December: 6.1 percent
November: 6 percent
October: 5.8 percent
September: 6.6 percent
August: 7.5 percent
July: 7.6 percent
June: 7.9 percent
May: 6.8 percent
April: 7.2 percent
March: 7.4 percent
February: 8.2 percent
January: 8.8 percent

2017 Annual Unemployment Rate: 7.2 percent

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2016

December: 8.1 percent
November: 7.7 percent
October: 7.6 percent
September 2016: 8.2 percent
August 2016: 8.4 percent
July 2016: 8.5 percent
June: 8.5 percent
May: 7.1 percent
April: 7.1 percent
March: 7.3 percent
February: 7.2 percent
January 2016: 7.4 percent

2016 Annual Unemployment Rate: 7.8 percent

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2015

December: 6.9 percent
November: 6.8 percent
October: 6.5 percent
September: 6.6 percent
August: 7 percent
July: 7.2 percent
June: 7.2 percent
May: 6.8 percent
April: 6.6 percent
March: 7.2 percent
February: 7.3 percent
January: 8 percent

2015 Annual Unemployment Rate: percent

••••••

PHARR

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2018

May: 6.7 percent
April: 7.4 percent
March: 7.5 percent
February: 7.6 percent
January: 8.3 percent

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2017

December: 7.1 percent
November: 6.9 percent
October: 6.4 percent
September: 7.6 percent
August: 8.9 percent
July: 8.7 percent
June: 8.9 percent
May: 7.6 percent
April: 7.8 percent
March: 8.5 percent
February: 8.8 percent
January: 9.8 percent

2017 Annual Unemployment Rate: 8.1 percent

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2016

December 2016: 8.9 percent
November 2016: 7.9 percent
October 2016: 7.2 percent
September: 8.2 percent
August 2016: 8.7 percent
July 2016: 9 percent
June 2016: 9.1 percent
May 2016: 7.5 percent
April 2016: 7.8 percent
March 2016: 8.1 percent
February 2o16: 8.1 percent
January 2016: 8.8 percent

2016 Annual Unemployment Rate: 8.3 percent

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2015

December: 7.2 percent
November: 7 percent
October: 6.4 percent
September: 6.6 percent
August: 7.3 percent
July: 7.6 percent
June: 7.4 percent
May: 6.5 percent
April: 6.2 percent
March: 6.5 percent
February: 6.8 percent
January: 7.6 percent

2015 Annual Unemployment Rate: 6.9 percent

••••••

WESLACO

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2018

May: 7 percent
April: 7.4 percent
March: 7.2 percent
February: 7.3 percent
January: 8.6 percent

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2017

December: 8 percent
November: 7.2 percent
October: 6 percent
September: 7.3 percent
August: 9 percent
July: 9.2 percent
June: 8.8 percent
May: 7.2 percent
April: 7.1 percent
March: 7.5 percent
February: 8.2 percent
January: 9.7 percent

2017 Annual Unemployment Rate: 8 percent

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2016

December 2016: 9.5 percent
November 2016: 8.1 percent
October 2016: 6.7 percent
September 2016: 8.3 percent
August 2016: 8.8 percent
July 2016: 9.3 percent
June 2016: 8.8 percent
May 2016: 6.8 percent
April 2016: 6.9 percent
March: 7.7 percent
February 2016: 7.5 percent
January 2016: 8.3 percent.

2016 Annual Unemployment Rate: 8.1 percent

Monthly Unemployment Rate 2015 

December: 6.8 percent
November: 6.5 percent
October: 5.8 percent
September: 6.6 percent
August: 6.7 percent
July: 6.6 percent
June: 6.3 percent
May: 6 percent
April: 5.6 percent
March: 6 percent
February: 6.5 percent
January: 7.2 percent

2015 Annual Unemployment Rate: 6.4 percent

••••••

ADDITIONAL REGIONAL ECONOMIC STATISTICS

Also according to the Texas Workforce Commission, the four counties in the Rio Grande Valley have recorded the following monthly unemployment rates in 2018, 2017,  2016, and 2015:

HIDALGO COUNTY

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2018

May: 6.2 percent
April: 6.6 percent
March: 6.9 percent
February: 7.1 percent
January: 7.6 percent

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2017

December: 6.6 percent
November: 6.3 percent
October: 5.9 percent
September: 6.8 percent
August: 7.8 percent
July: 7.8 percent
June: 7.9 percent
May: 7 percent
April: 7.3 percent
March: 7.7 percent
February: 8.3 percent
January: 9 percent

The annual combined unemployment rate for all cities in Hidalgo County for 2o17 was 7.4 percent.

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2016

December: 8.2 percent
November: 7.5 percent
October: 7.1 percent
September: 7.9 percent
August: 8.3 percent
July: 8.5 percent
June: 8.4 percent
May: 7.1 percent
April: 7.2 percent
March: 7.7 percent
February: 7.7 percent
January: 8.1 percent

The annual combined unemployment rate for all cities in Hidalgo County for 2o16 was 7.8 percent.

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2015

December: 7.9 percent
November: 7.8 percent
October: 7.4 percent
September: 7.7 percent
August: 8.2 percent
July: 8.5 percent
June: 8.4 percent
May: 7.7 percent
April: 7.3 percent
March: 7.7 percent
February: 7.9 percent
January: 8.5 percent

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

••••••

CAMERON COUNTY

May: 6 percent
April: 6.3 percent
March: 6.5 percent
February: 6.7 percent
January: 6.8 percent

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2017

December: 5.9 percent
November: 5.9 percent
October: 5.8 percent
September: 6.4 percent
August: 7.2 percent
July: 7.2 percent
June: 7.5 percent
May: 6.6 percent
April: 6.8 percent
March: 7.2 percent
February: 7.8 percent
January: 8.2 percent

The annual combined unemployment rate for all cities in Cameron County for 2o17 was 6.9 percent.

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2016

December: 7.3 percent
November: 7 percent
October: 7 percent
September: 7.4 percent
August: 7.6 percent
July: 7.7 percent
June: 7.8 percent
May: 6.6 percent
April: 6.7 percent
March: 7 percent
February: 6.9 percent
January: 7.1 percent

The annual combined unemployment rate for all cities in Cameron County for 2o16 was  7.2 percent.

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2015

December: 6.8 percent
November: 6.9 percent
October: 6.7 percent
September: 6.7 percent
August: 7.1 percent
July: 7.4 percent
June: 7.5 percent
May: 7 percent
April: 6.8 percent
March: 7.2 percent
February: 7.4 percent
January: 8 percent

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

Also for May 2018, there were 326,163 individuals employed in Hidalgo County, while 157,350 persons were employed in Cameron County during the same month.

••••••

STARR COUNTY

May: 9.6 percent
April: 10.7 percent
March: 10.8 percent
February: 11.4 percent
January: 12.2 percent

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2017

December: 10.1 percent
November: 9.4 percent
October: 8.7 percent
September: 9.7 percent
August: 10.9 percent
July: 11.4 percent
June: 11.9 percent
May: 11 percent
April: 12.6 percent
March: 13.4 percent
February: 14.7 percent
January: 15.7 percent

The annual combined unemployment rate in Starr County for 2o17 was 11.7 percent.

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2016

December: 13.8 percent
November: 12.7 percent
October: 12.1 percent
September: 13.3 percent
August: 13.7 percent
July: 14 percent
June: 13.9 percent
May: 12.1 percent
April: 13.1 percent
March: 14 percent
February: 13.5 percent
January: 13.8 percent

The annual combined unemployment rate for all cities in Starr County for 2o16 was 13.3 percent.

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2015

December: 13.4 percent
November: 13.3 percent
October: 12.6 percent
September: 12.6 percent
August: 13.6 percent
July: 14.1 percent
June: 14.1 percent
May: 13.1 percent
April: 12.9 percent
March: 13.8 percent
February: 13.8 percent
January: 14.3 percent

The annual combined unemployment rate in Starr County for 2o15 was 13.5 percent.

••••••

WILLACY COUNTY

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2018

May: 11 percent
April: 11.2 percent
March: 11.1 percent
February: 11.4 percent
January: 11 percent

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2017

December: 9 percent
November: 8.8 percent
October: 8.9 percent
September: 9.6 percent
August: 11.1 percent
July: 12 percent
June: 11.7 percent
May: 11.3 percent
April: 11.7 percent
March: 12.1 percent
February: 12.5 percent
January: 12.9 percent

The annual combined unemployment rate in Willacy County for 2o17 was 11 percent.

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2016

December: 11.1 percent
November: 11.1 percent
October: 11.3 percent
September: 12.3 percent
August: 12.8 percent
July: 13.7 percent
June: 13.5 percent
May: 12.1 percent
April: 12.1 percent
March: 12.4 percent
February: 12.2 percent
January: 12.4 percent

The annual combined unemployment rate for all cities in Willacy County for 2o16 was 12.2 percent.

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2015

December: 12 percent
November: 12.5 percent
October: 12.9 percent
September: 12.4 percent
August: 13.7 percent
July: 14.3 percent
June: 14.6 percent
May: 13.6 percent
April: 13.4 percent
March: 13.2 percent
February: 11.6 percent
January: 12.1 percent

The annual combined unemployment rate for all cities in Willacy County for 2o15 was 13 percent.

For May 2018, there were 23,598 individuals employed in Starr County, while during the same month, 5,676 persons were employed in Willacy County.

MORE DETAILED FIGURES ON NUMBER OF JOBS, UNEMPLOYMENT RATES FOR EDINBURG

More detailed information about the labor market and unemployment rates in Edinburg follows:

Edinburg 2016 Employment, By Month

December: 37,915
November: 37,704
October: 37,404
September: 37,124
August: 36,908
July: 36,569
June: 37,299
May: 37,635
April: 37,607
March: 37,447
February: 37,169
January: 36,776

Edinburg 2015 Employment, By Month

December: 35,984
November: 35,904
October: 35,530
September: 35,293
August: 35,108
July: 35,027
June: 35,683
May: 36,111
April: 35,872
March: 35,741
February: 35,544
January: 35,436

Edinburg 2014 Employment, By Month

December: 35,666
November: 35,686
October: 35,535
September: 35,173
August: 34,763
July: 34,611
June: 35,301
May: 35,529
April: 35,486
March: 35,301
February: 35,232
January: 35,049

Edinburg 2013 Employment, By Month

December: 35,099
November: 34,838
October: 34,323
September: 34,248
August: 33,921
July: 33,668
June: 34,249
May: 34,444
April: 34,495
March: 34,137
February: 34,121
January: 34,018

Edinburg Monthly Unemployment Rates, 2014

December: 4.7 percent
November: 5.2 percent
October: 5.5 percent
September: 5.7 percent
August: 6.4 percent
July: 6.7 percent
June: 6.5 percent
May: 5.8 percent
April: 5.2 percent
March: 5.9 percent
February: 6.2 percent
January: 6.2 percent

Annual Unemployment Rate: 5.8 percent

Edinburg Monthly Unemployment Rates, 2013 

December: 6.1 percent
November: 6.4 percent
October: 7 percent
September: percent
August: 7.2 percent
July: 7.6 percent
June: 7.7 percent
May: 7 percent
April: 6.4 percent
March: 6.9 percent
February: 7.2 percent
January: 7.3 percent

Annual Unemployment Rate: 7.0 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

TEAM OF UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS RIO GRANDE VALLEY PROFESSORS RESEARCHING VALLEY’S HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS; STUDY IDENTIFIES FACTORS IN RESIDENTS’ EVACUATION DECISIONS

UTRGV VIDEO by María Elena Hernández:  https://youtu.be/VZzCXWf8fM4

Hurricane season is underway, and professors at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley are researching ways to help the community deal with potential storms.

Dr. Dean Kyne, Dr. Arlett Lomeli, Dr. David Wladyka and Dr. Katarzynia Sepielak, of the UTRGV Department of Sociology and Anthropology, along with Dr. Owen Temby of the UTRGV School of Earth, Environmental, and Marine Sciences and the Department of Political Science, are studying the Rio Grande Valley’s hurricane resiliency – the ability to prepare for and bounce back from hurricanes.

“Without resiliency, it may take years and years in the building, recovering and rebuilding process,” Kyne said.

The first step in measuring hurricane resiliency is defining it and agreeing on its indicators. Two graduate students already are collecting data from key stakeholders, like county and state officials.

“We have to begin with whether they agree on the concept and if they all agree on the indicators,” Kyne said. “They have to be on the same page.”

After analyzing the data collected, the professors hope to move to the next step: measuring the Rio Grande Valley’s current level of hurricane resiliency.

“Once you are able to measure the current state, then we can think about, “Well, this is the current level of our resilience? What are the areas where we can improve?’ We can set the goal. We can set the numbers and we can move forward. And, we can work together in order to build more resiliency, or we can retain all the resiliency that we have built in the past years,” Kyne said.

The study is not the first one UTRGV professors have conducted to help with hurricane preparedness in the Rio Grande Valley.

Last year, Kyne, Lomeli, Dr. William Donner of the UTRGV Department of Sociology and Anthropology, and then-undergraduate student Erika Zuloaga published a paper about evacuations, titled “Who Will Stay, Who Will Leave: Decision-Making of Residents Living in Potential Hurricane Impact Areas During a Hypothetical Hurricane Event in the Rio Grande Valley.”

“That study shows evacuation decision-making is not as simple as one might think,” Kyne said.

Factors people consider when deciding whether or not to evacuate include what they identified as safe places, the material their home is made of, what floor of an apartment building they live on, and the amount of help they expect to get from the government or other agencies after the storm. Age and level of education also had an impact on the decision to evacuate or not.

The researchers also identified the following seven reasons people would not evacuate the area because of a hurricane.

• A pet that can’t travel or they don’t want to leave alone.
• No place to go.
• No money to leave.
• Not wanting to leave their belongings.
• No friends or relatives living in places outside the evacuation zone.
• Elders who wouldn’t or couldn’t travel.
• Family member unable to travel due to a disability or medical condition.

The paper also included a geographic distribution of people willing to evacuate during a hurricane.

“I also would like to emphasize one finding that is very helpful for the authorities – the recommendation by the authorities to evacuate. You can that see many people indicate willingness to follow the recommendation made by the authorities,” Kyne said.

Along with this research, UTRGV offers a Master of Arts in Disaster Studies, a program that trains those interested in emergency management roles. Last year, students assisted with Hurricane Harvey cleanup and spoke with Corpus Christi officials about the decision process during the hurricane.

More information about the UTRGV master’s program is available at http://www.utrgv.edu/sociology/graduate/disaster-studies-ma/index.htm.

ABOUT UTRGV

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.

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María Elena Hernández contributed to this article. For more information on the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation and the City of Edinburg, please log on to http://edinburgedc.com.

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