Jobless rates continue decline as East Texas recovers from effects of pandemic

Unemployment Numbers

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Unemployment rates continue to fall across Texas and in East Texas, but economists warn the recovery may slow over the next few months.

New numbers released Friday from the Texas Workforce Commission show the rate in Tyler fell from 7.1% in September to 6% in October. In Longview, the jobless rate fell from 8.8% in September to 7.5% in October.

“The Tyler area made progress, the Longview area made progress, as well as the state,” said Texas economist and Lindale native Dr. Ray Perryman.

Perryman said recovery has been slower than expected, but it goes to show how hard it is to make predictions in unpredictable times.

“I think the East Texas area is very well positioned right now to have an effective recovery, but we may get slowed down a little bit here for a few months because of the situation with the virus,” Perryman said.

Perryman said until a vaccine and new therapies become available, an increasing number of cases and hospitalizations could slow recovery.

“More difficult than it perhaps has been historically because of a pandemic, a presidential election, and lots of things happening that deal with uncertainty,” said Scott Martinez, CEO of the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce.

Martinez, who started as CEO over the summer, said while COVID-19 continues to affect the economy, progress is being made in the area.

“Our manufacturers have remained very busy,” Martinez said. “We’ve seen home building to be very brisk in Tyler and Smith County, which impact companies like Trane, which serves that sector.”

Martinez and Perryman both agree that East Texas is well-positioned to make an economic comeback, considering its low jobless numbers before the pandemic.

“Companies see a post-pandemic world and they’re planning for it. we’re working with some large fortune 100 companies across several sectors right now that are strongly considering Tyler and Smith County for a location.”

Copyright 2020 KLTV. All rights reserved.