Jobless rate drops to new low

Milam County unemployment rate dipped to under 5 percent for the first time in more than five years while the state unemployment rate continued rising.
For the fourth consecutive month, the Texas unemployment rate rose in December to reach 4.7 percent, the Texas Workforce Commission reported last week.
The nationwide jobless rate for December held steady at 5 percent, according to the TWC statement. The Texas jobless rate was 4.6 percent in November.
According to the TWC report, Milam County’s unemployment rate dipped to 4.9 percent, the lowest rate reported in 2015 and the lowest reported in the past five years.
The TWC estimated the total Milam County labor force at 9,931 workers in December, with 490 currently looking for work.
TWC officials noted that even with the four-month rise, the state finished 2015 on a strong note in December, with employers adding 166,900 jobs over the year across a diverse range of industries.
Texas employers expanded their payrolls in December with the addition of 24,900 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs. That’s the 10th month of job increases for Texas during 2015, according to the commission.
TWC records show the Milam County unemployment rate remained in double digits through most of 2009, 2010 and 2011, following the closure of the Alcoa plant in Rockdale. The job market began improving in 2012 with year-end rates declining from 8.6 percent in 2012 to 6.4 percent in December 2013. Since January 2014, the monthly jobless rates have ranged between 5 and 6 percent.