Although Hopkins County continues to have the lowest unemployment rate in the Northeast Texas/Texarkana Workforce Development Area, February 2021 marked at least the fifth consecutive month the unemployment rate has risen in the county as has been the case for the state and 9-county WDA to which Hopkins belongs.
Texas Workforce Commission and Texas Labor Market Information reports show fluctuations in Texas’ labor force over the past three months, decreasing from 14,139,874 in December 2020 to 14,025,650 in January 2021, then rising to 14,049,170 in February 2021, all of which are less than the 14,262,779 people who made up the state’s labor force in February 2020. The number of employed individuals in Texas declined from 13,191,324 in December 2020 to 13,000,673 in January 2021, then 12,989,548 in February 2021, which is still less than the 13,761,203 people were employed across the state in February 2020. These changes caused the state’s unemployment rate to rise from 6.7 percent in December 2020 to 7.3 percent in January 2021, then 7.5 percent in February 2021 (seasonably adjusted to 6.9 percent), which is twice the 3.5 percent unemployment rate recorded across the state in February 2020.
In North East Texas WDA, the labor force was reported to be 124,479 in February 2021, which is more than the labor force of 124,228 reported in February 2020. However, only 4,811 people in the North East Texas WDA were reported to be unemployed in February 2020 (3.9 percent) whereas 9,264 were unemployed (7.4 percent) in February 2021. In January, 8,771 people in NET were unemployed, accounting for 7.1 percent of the overall 123,668 labor force.
Hopkins County’s workforce dropped from 17,744 in December 2020 to increased from 17,716 in January 2021 to 17,744 in February, which is one more than in February 2020. Overall 1,000 people were unemployed in February 2021; that’s 50 more people without jobs last month than in January and 46 more unemployed people in Hopkins County last month than in February of 2020. The unemployment rate in Hopkins County increased from 4.8 percent in December 2020 to 5.4 percent in January 2020 and 5.6 percent in February 2021, which are all up from the 3.1 percent unemployment rate posted in February 2020 – just before COVID-19 shutdowns caused unemployment rates to skyrocket.
Neighboring Franklin County’s unemployment rate of 5.9 percent was unchanged from January to February 2021, despite gains in both the labor force and unemployment rate. The labor force rose from 4,950 in January to 5,034 in February, which is higher than in February 2020 when the labor force consisted of 4,838 people. Of those, only eight more people were unemployed in February than the 290 reported in January 2021, which is still considerably higher than the 158 in Franklin County who were unemployed in February 2020 when the unemployment rate was 3.3 percent.
Morris County was the only county in the WDA with an increase in unemployment. Morris County’s 13.4 percent unemployment rate continued to be the highest in the NETWDA. Even with the labor force increasing from 4,739 to 4,783, Morris County’s unemployment rate declined from 13.7 in January 2021 to 13.4 percent in February 2021. The county still has a long way to go to match last February’s numbers, however; the labor force consisted of 4,877 people, 261 of whom were unemployed (5.4 percent).
The unemployment rate in the six other counties in the NETWDA were all above 6 percent, and all showed labor force and unemployment gains.
Delta County’s labor force increased from 2,437 in January 2021 to 2,455 in February 2021, which is still nine less than in February of 2020. Unemployment in Delta County rose from139 (5.7 percent) in January to 150 (6.1 percent) in February 2021, up from 88 unemployed (3.6 percent) in February 2020.
Titus County’s labor force grew by 200 from January 2021 to 13,711 in February 2021, which was 169 more than in February of 2020 when 531 people were unemployed (3.9 percent). From January to February 2021, unemployment rose slightly as well from 893 (6.6 percent) without jobs to 925 (6.7 percent) without jobs.
The job pool in Bowie County (which includes Texarkana) grew by 159 people from January to February, giving the county on the far northeastern corner of Texas a labor force of 39,035 in February 2021, which is still down from the labor force of 39,530 of February 2020 when the unemployment rate was 4.2 (1,664 unemployed). The unemployment from 7 percent in January 2021 to 7.5 percent in February 2021, with 2,911 without jobs last month compared to the 2,737 unemployed in Bowie County the month before. The city of Texarkana’s unemployment rate increased 0.02 percent over the past 2 months to 8 percent, up from 4.2 percent one year before.
The unemployment rate in Lamar County, which includes Paris, rose from 7 percent in January to 7.6 percent in February 2021, which is still more than twice the 3.3 percent unemployment rate recorded in February 2020. The overall labor force in Lamar County last month was 24,004, up from 23, 828 in January 2021 and 23,834 in February 2020. A total of 1,815 people were reported to be unemployed in Lamar County in February 2021, up from 780 one year before and 1,658 just one month before. Unemployment in the City of Paris rose from 3.4 percent in February 2020 to 8.3 percent last month, which was 1 percent higher than in January 2021.