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Unemployment figures down, but still ugly

By Scott Harvey, Brad Kellar

A report Thursday by the Texas Workforce Commission finds the local unemployment rate declined between January and February, but there were fewer people employed in Hunt County last month than during any other February this century.

The county has lost more than 700 jobs and the unemployment rate has risen more than two full percentage points since February 2008. Last month's jobless rate was 6.9 percent, with January's rate at 7.3 percent.

There were 35,404 people reported on the job last month, a loss of 106 positions since January and 720 jobs since February, 2008.

The 106 positions lost between January and February is less than the 108 individuals who are to be laid off from Zurn Pex Plumbing Systems in Commerce later this year. The company announced earlier this month they would begin to cut jobs in May due to the decline in the home building industry. Depending on where and if those workers can find jobs locally, it could have a significant impact not only on the regional unemployment rate, but the local economy.

A total of 2,642 people filed for unemployment in Hunt County during February, a decrease of 152 people than the month before but an increase of 810 people when compared to February 2008.

The county's highest February unemployment rate this century occurred in 2003, when the rate rose to 7 percent. It was also the year which recorded the month's most number of unemployed, at 2,687.

Hunt County is listed by the Texas Workforce Commission as part of the Dallas-Plano-Irving Metropolitan Division, which also includes Dallas, Collin, Delta, Denton, Ellis, Kaufman and Rockwall counties.

Kaufman County posted the region's highest unemployment rate last month, at 7.4 percent. Denton County had the region's lowest rate for the month, at 6.4 percent. Dallas County was listed with 7.3 percent unemployment, Rockwall County posted 6.5 percent unemployment, Collin County registered 6.6 percent unemployment, Ellis County posted 6.9 unemployment, and Delta County recorded 7 percent unemployment in February.

Among other nearby counties, Fannin County posted a 7.6 percent unemployment rate during February, Hopkins County 5.1 percent, Lamar County 6.9 percent, Rains County 6.8 percent and Van Zandt County listed a 5.9 percent unemployment rate last month.