Private employers continue to spur the economy for Gainesville and Cooke County.
“Our economy is being driven by a strong and diversified manufacturing base,” reported Gainesville Economic Development Corporation director Kent Sharp. “The diversity in our manufacturing base is very important because this somewhat shields us from unexpected downturns in any one particular sector.”
Manufacturing products includes aircraft seats, drilling rigs, roofing material, powder coatings, polyethylene pipe and many more products.
The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) reported increases across the state with private employers adding 48,400 jobs in May and 350,000 jobs over the year for an annual growth rate of 3.7 percent. The job increase is the largest in Texas in nearly 17 years.
Unemployment rates continue to decline in Cooke County with a rate below the state unemployment average.
“The last unemployment rate number for Cooke County is for May 2014 at 3.4 percent,” Sharp said. “This is a full percentage point below Denton and Grayson counties.
Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 5.1 percent in May, down from 5.2 percent in April as reported by the TWC.
“The most obvious reason the unemployment rate in Cooke County is so low is because the demand for available local labor is greater than the supply of labor,” Sharp said. There is another component which is helping drive the average weekly wage up in Cooke County and that is the types and quality of workforce training being accomplished every day at the Career and Technology Center located at North Central Texas College.”
The curriculums that combine naturally with local manufacturing sectors in Gainesville and Cooke County are the welding program, CNC program and the Industrial Arts program, which encompasses hydraulics, pneumatics, electronics and pump controls.
“High school students and traditional community college students get trained every day in these programs,” Sharp said. “When they graduate, our companies are getting a more advanced and more productive individual than hiring someone with no skills. Thus the starting pay rates we are experiencing in our local economy have risen over the last few years.”
Sharp reports the top employers for Cooke County residents are Winstar World Casino, Zodiac US, Gainesville State School, Complete Energy, Forum, Duraline Polypipe, Select Energy Services, ORTEQ Technologies, Lazart, GAF, IFS Coatings.
“There is no doubt that the oil and gas sector has been and continues to be a large sector contribution to the local economy,” Sharp said. “It is important to note that Gainesville has several different pieces which comprise the entire oil and gas sector.”
The different areas of the gas sector includes energy manufacturing, oil and gas companies, national and regional corporate headquarters facilities with average salaries approaching six figures.
“It is good news for job seekers when Texas industries grow across the board,” TWC Commissioner Ronny Congleton said in a press release.
Jobs are not the only thing that have improved; Average Weekly Wages have grown in Cooke County, according to the last data available, which is the fourth quarter 2013. The Average Weekly Wage is $885 compared to Denton County with $875 and $794 in Grayson County. “Annualized, this amounts to $46,000 annually,” Sharp said.
Workforce Solutions Texoma director of external relations Bob Rhoden provided historical unemployment statistics for Cooke County compared with current conditions. He stated that in 1998, when the Cooke County Unemployment Rate was 3.3 percent, the Civilian Labor Force was 16,843. With 564 people unemployed, that means there were 16,279 people working. In 2013, when the Unemployment Rate was 4.5 percent, the Civilian Labor Force was 23,422. With 1,047 people not working, that means 22,375 people were working. Rhoden reports that between 1998, and 2013, Cooke County grew almost 6,100 jobs.