Unemployment rates jump in Lufkin, region

Unemployment rates jump in Lufkin, region
Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - 9:24am

Unemployment numbers rose at the city, county and state level last month, according to data released by the Texas Workforce Commission.

In May, Lufkin had a 7.8 percent unemployment rate. In June, 159 more people were considered unemployed, raising the number to 8.7 percent. In Angelina County, the number rose from 7.6 percent in May to 8.6 percent in June.

Statewide, 110,555 more people were jobless, a jump from 7.9 percent to 8.8 percent.

The dip is baffling to professionals, because during the summer, seasonal jobs often cause unemployment numbers to decrease, according to Lufkin’s director of economic development, Jim Wehmeier.

Over the month, 78 people were added to Lufkin’s labor force, 227 to Angelina’s and 66,297 to the state’s. Lufkin and Angelina unemployment rates are still below the state’s rate, but just barely.

“We don’t know specifically why numbers are up,” said Charlene Meadows, executive director of Workforce Solutions Deep East Texas. “My guess would be the general economy. We stay pretty close in relation to the state, usually. It’s just reflecting a difference in the economy.”

For the entire Deep East Texas area, the June unemployment rate was at 10.1 percent, up from 9.1 percent in May.

Often, when numbers rise, large layoffs can be blamed, but that isn’t the case this time, according to Meadows.

“Without a big, significant event, we’ve got to put together a bunch of small events,” she said. “Small layoffs don’t catch the same attention one big layoff does.”

Meadows said it’s a possibility that there have been a number of two- or three-person layoffs at small companies throughout the area that added up to create the rise in unemployment. She also cited higher competition in the job market during the summer, with students who usually aren’t working during school competing for jobs against others who aren’t in class nine months of the year.

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