Healthcare, better paying jobs key to growth
Texas, and specifically, the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission MSA, are doing their part to help lower the unemployment number and, add to those gainfully employed in the area. Recently released July 2019 Labor Market and Employment reports show that the Texas unemployment rate at 3.4% is below the national average of 3.7%. And while Hidalgo County is almost double that number at 6.7%, the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission MSA achieved the fourth highest annual growth rate in the state at 2.9%, adding 7,500 jobs over the year.
According to the Workforce Solutions report, the primary contributor to the July employment gains in the region was the healthcare and private education sector, with an estimated 1,200 more jobs. While the government sector had the most job losses with -7,600, this is a temporary and seasonal occurrence, as many public education workers are sent home for all or part of the summer.
“Better paying jobs,” said McAllen Mayor Jim Darling. “That is what our efforts to improve and attract economic development in McAllen are all about. Providing jobs that pay workers a living wage, with benefits and opportunity. Right now, the industry that we are focusing that is going to help make that happen in our region is the healthcare industry.”
The report also notes that the healthcare sector in McAllen MSA continues to grow steadily, and this growth can be attributed to the expansion of healthcare facilities in Hidalgo County, including the recently opened University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley Biomedical Research Facility right here in McAllen.
“This was important to the City of McAllen, to have the facility in community, as we area proud partners in developing this medical school, the students and the researchers in our community for what the research will provide the region. It is even more than just working towards the health and welfare of our citizens and for creating improved lives and bright and hopeful futures, but also, it is improving the economic strength of our community,” concluded Mayor Darling.
Additionally, Workforce Solutions (WFS), in partnership with local healthcare institutions received a Skills Development Fund Grant (SDFG) in the amount of $1,057,620 to provide customized training to upskill approximately 4,000 new and incumbent healthcare employees to meet the current healthcare industry demand. In conjunction with the SDFG, WFS is collaborating with regional partners to conduct an industry wage study to quantify and validate the impact of the healthcare industry in the Rio Grande Valley, as well as, guide future workforce initiatives.
Mayor Darling recently returned from a trip to China, joined by members of the McAllen Economic Development Corporation, meeting with various industry officials to explore opportunities for new businesses to set-up shop in McAllen. He plans to return to China sometime in October for follow-up meetings.
The unemployment numbers for July 2019 for Hidalgo County (6.7%) and McAllen (4.6%) are a drop from the numbers at the same time last year for Hidalgo County (7.%) and McAllen (5.0%).