The numbers show that major cities in the upper Valley, including Edinburg, are strong candidates to ride out the current recession unscathed, according to Forbes magazine.

The McAllen Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which includes Edinburg and Mission, has been ranked No. 1 in Forbes annual list of the Top-10 Best Mid-Size Cities for Job Growth in the United States.

The McAllen MSA has experienced “tremendous growth”, according to Forbes, which placed the region seventh among 333 MSAs in the country. Forbes uses data provided the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For Edinburg that means riding the wave of an influx of higher skill jobs that are being created from new and existing companies, according to economic officials. Relocating companies are currently trying to take advantage of low costs for manufacturing in Reynosa, which leads to an increasing number of jobs on the U.S. side, officials say.

The report highlighted a 48 percent jump in education- and health-sector jobs in the area since 2003. Between 1997 and 2008, employment increased an “astounding” 61.2 percent overall, according to the annual report.

“This latest report shows the resilience of the area’s economy and the continued business activity despite the national slowdown in the economy,” said Ramiro Garza, executive director of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation.

The unemployment rate in Edinburg stands at 6 percent as of March, according to the EDC. The Texas unemployment rate currently stands at 6.7 percent, and the national rate is 9.0. There are currently 29,160 people employed versus 1,850 actively looking for work in the city.

In his final State of the City speech in February Edinburg Mayor Joe Ochoa said that Edinburg went from a 20 percent unemployment rate in 1993 to 5 percent earlier this year. The mayor said in 2008 the city saw at least five major projects with a total capitalization of $185 million and the creation of 935 jobs. Santana Textiles, which announced its new facility to the city in July, is slated to create 800 jobs by this time next year.

“I am confident that a solid foundation has been built and I know Edinburg will continue to grow no matter what,” Ochoa at the annual speech.

Economic officials in McAllen say they continue to see growth from existing companies, which are currently moving higher skill jobs into the region. Increasing jobs in design engineering, purchasing and logistics will provide jobs for graduates from local universities including STC and UTPA, according to the McAllen Economic Development Corporation.

“We are really pleased because that is what we have always been working towards,” said Keith Patridge, executive director of the MEDC. “While none of us like the economic situation we are in now, one of the things that is a plus is that it’s forcing all of us, including companies we are working with, to reevaluate how they have been doing business and look for ways to reduce costs and streamline.

“We just happen to be in a position where we are seeing a lot of those companies, because of the low cost in Reynosa that are moving more of their product and manufacturing down to the area. That’s good because a number of jobs are moving in to the U.S. side,” Patridge said.

Local figures apparently buck state and national trends. In March, total employment in Texas suffered its fifth consecutive monthly loss by shedding 41,700 jobs. This was followed by a loss of 52, 400 jobs in February. Texas has shed about 106,500 jobs for the year.

Despite the loss of jobs, Texas has nine of the top 20 best cities for job growth in the United States, according to Forbes. Texas dominated every category, led by number one-ranked Odessa.