According to news reports, Texas' unemployment rate continues to drop to record lows, with the state's rate for May 2019 hitting a seasonally adjusted 3.5%, the Texas Workforce Commission announced. That's the lowest level since the federal government began collecting the data series used to calculate the rate in 1976.

The state's 3.4% average unemployment rate for June 2019 breaks the record low of 3.5% Texas set last month.

Gov. Greg Abbott applauded the reports, saying in a recent written statement, “Texas continues to lead the nation in job and business growth, and as the result of our booming economy, unemployment numbers have fallen to a record low.  “This is not by accident — lowering taxes, removing regulatory barriers and investing in our workforce and education system are the keys to our successes,” Abbott said.

According to HEDCO Executive Director, John Clary, the economy in America is strong and fortunately, Rusk County is participating with record low unemployment statistics of our own.   Unemployment in Rusk county in 2019 through June has averaged 3.4%.  An outward sign of the low unemployment are “help wanted” signs.  Help wanted signs are abundant around Henderson.    

For HEDCO’s part, the organization is engaged in several programs designed to increase the pipeline of workers for employers.  First, HEDCO spearheaded an effort to seek Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) grant funds for High Demand Job Training (HDJT).  HEDCO was successful in acquiring grant funds for welding and health sciences training at Henderson High School’s Career Technology Education (CTE) program.  The grant of $150,000 from TWC, matched with $150,000 from HEDCO will provide minor remodeling, equipment and study materials to help train high school students for high demand jobs available right here in Henderson and the region.

In another program, HEDCO has been actively pursuing an effort known as the “East Texas Talent Pipeline,” in which, Kilgore College will begin training offenders at the Bradshaw State Jail facility in logistics and OSHA skills so that upon their release, offenders have a better opportunity to get good paying jobs at industrial companies involved in distribution.  According to Clary, “many employers are what we call, second chance employers, meaning they will hire offenders that have completed their sentences and been released into society.”  This logistics training is set to begin in September 2019.  Bradshaw State Jail takes in offenders from the northeast Texas region, and these prisoners are released back into our communities.  Statistics show that, if a released offender can find a good job within a few months, they are more likely to stay on a good path and won’t end up being a return offender.

Another piece to the East Texas Talent Pipeline program is manufacturing-production (CPT) training.  Kilgore College is ramping up to begin this training program at Bradshaw State Jail in January 2020.  HEDCO is participating, along with Kilgore EDC, White Oak EDC and Marshall EDC in funding a site license and study materials for the CPT training.  In August 2019, the East Texas Workforce Board is submitting a matching grant application through the Texas Industry Partnership, a grant program that would provide matching funds for those approved by the area economic development corporations.  Graduates from the CPT training will exit the jail with a national certification from MSSC, which will put them at the head of the pack in their post-prison job search.  Each training program requires approximately 80 contact hours. 

According to Clary, “in the end, our objective in this time of a tight job market, is to do what we can to help increase the pipeline of workers for our local companies, and we will look at all avenues to achieve that objective. The High Demand Job Training program and the East Texas Talent Pipeline are two great programs that serve that exact objective.”