Plano job seekers have options as unemployment remains high

SMU Economics Professor Mike Davis talks about the health of the Texas economy.

By Bill Conrad

PLANO - While the recession officially ended two years ago, unemployment numbers remain high.

The Bureau of Labor released the June national unemployment numbers on Friday morning and the news was worse than expected. The unemployment rate climbed to from 9.1 to 9.2 percent, a six-month high. Overall, there are 14.1 million unemployed Americans. However, Texas and the Metroplex, with unemployment at 8 percent, continue to beat the national average.

"We are doing a lot better than the other parts of the United States," said Dr. Mike Davis, a senior lecturer at the SMU Cox School of Business. "This is part of a long-term trend in the state. If you look at job growth over the past eight years, Texas has outperformed the rest of the country, and our unemployment numbers being lower is a reflection of that."

Davis attributed Texas' lower unemployment numbers to two major factors: luck and a good business climate.

"Texas is lucky to have strong energy and agricultural export segments of the economy," Davis said. "Both of those segments are up, and we benefit from that. However, what is more important is that Texas really has a strong business and political climate. The state is friendly to entrepreneurs and business growth. There is no denying that the low taxes help."

Two of the weakest areas of the national economy are manufacturing and construction, but once again Texas is doing better in those areas than other parts of the country.

"The manufacturing segment is actually doing better than most believe," Davis said. "However, it is only manufacturing production that is up. The factories are more efficient, so they are producing more while employing less people. Construction, especially residential, is still a big problem -- but we are luckier here in Texas since we didn't have the big housing bust that affected other regions."

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