Grayson County ended 2018 with 3 percent unemployment and seeing growth in both job seekers and those entering the workforce.

The Texas Workforce Commission released numbers for the period ending in December 2018. The numbers showed steady economic activity for Texas as a whole and Grayson County in particular.

The unemployment rate for the Sherman-Denison statistical area remained at 3 percent for December 2018, unchanged from November. It was also on par with the same 3 percent from the previous December in 2017. The unemployment rate for the state of Texas was at 3.6 percent, a slight increase from the 3.5 percent from November. The U.S. unemployment rate for the month was 3.7 percent, an increase from 3.5 percent over November.

The labor force, or number of people elligble to work, increased by a total of 2,113 in the county. There was an increase in people employed across all industries and employers by 2036 for the month.

TWC Chair Ruth R. Hughs said in the press release Texas continues to have a strong economy with mining, logging and construction leading the way.

“Texas is the place to be for job growth and economic development as Texas employers in our state continue to create job opportunities for the highly skilled Texas workforce,” Hughs said.

She said the annual growth in the private sector for the month was 3.7 percent staying above 3.0 percent since April 2018. She also attributed much of the growth to the mining and logging industries, showing annual growth rate of 18 percent in those fields. There were 4,500 construction jobs added over the month. That sector grew 6.4 percent over the year, becoming the second fastest growing industry in the state.

Construction contributed to the growth in North Texas as well including Grayson County according to the report.

Deputy Director of Workforce Solutions Texoma Marsha Lindsey said the numbers indicate there has been enough jobs to go around to meet the needs of the people added to the workforce. She said the biggest concerns in the local economy continue to be housing and the aging workforce. She mentioned there were plenty of efforts underway to address those issues.

“One of the things about attracting large industry, large organizations are not interested unless your city is on an interstate thoroughfare,” Lindsey said.

She said the big discussion lately is on how to bring that level of infrastructure to the area. She said there are several new infrastructure plans to address those concerns.

Lindsey said the indicators across all industries and employers remains strong in the area. However, she did say there would potentially be some negative impacts on the economy if the partial federal government shutdown continues.

“We had one person who came into the workforce center who tried to apply for section eight housing,” Lindsey said. “There might be little pockets of that going around but we don’t have a lot of federal workers in our area.”

Sherman Chamber of Commerce President Eddie Brown said Sherman in particular and Grayson County as a whole is experiencing continued growth and he doesn’t expect things to slow down in the near future.

“Sherman and Grayson County are seeing tremendous growth, the most we’ve seen in many decades,” Brown said.”With all the new construction taking place on the north and south end of town we’re going to continue to see much growth well into 2019.”

Brown said the increase in manufacturing, retail and construction jobs was driving much of the local economy. He said in the near future the housing and road construction projects currently beginning to get underway should continue to push the growth in the area forward.

“Denison had much growth like Sherman going into 2019,” Brown said. “They had as fantastic a year was we did in Sherman and we’re expecting this year to see the same. It’s very good news with jobs coming into Sherman, Denison and all throughout Grayson County.”

Denison Development Alliance President Tony Kaai said he sees things continuing to remain strong for a long time.

“Across the board every level of employer is still looking for workers,” Kaai said. “Most businesses are experiencing growth in the current market. A lot of them are still searching for employees.”

Kaai said the Denison Development Alliance held a expo recently with the intention of discussing some of the upcoming projects heading to the area. He said housing and infrastructure projects are being planned to help attract more people and businesses to the area.

“We have seen a steady flow of people coming into the county because we have a great quality of life here,” Kaai said. “People are moving in to take advantage of that.”

Kaai said with how strong things are in the area it would take something major on a national level to bring the local economy down.

He said he hasn’t noticed much immediate effects on employment, he did mention that the Environmental Protection Agency being shut down could impact some local development projects, but reiterated it would be potentially months before that impact would be noticeable.

“We are working on a couple of properties previously cleared by the EPA, but we now need more info from them before we can get them going,” Kaai said. “We’re not looking at a hard time frame on what we can develop on this property. We have the report the EPA issued but developers want more face-to-face time with representatives from the EPA.”

Kaai said that project likely wouldn’t move forward for several months and he is hopeful the shutdown would be settled by then.

A press release issued by the Texas Workforce Commission highlighted the economic activity for the end of the year as positive for the state with a total of 38,000 positions added in the state in the month of December.

TWC Chair Ruth R. Hughs said in the press release Texas continues to have a strong economy.

“Since last December, Texas employers added 391,800 jobs, and for the third consecutive month, unemployment in Texas is at record lows,” TMC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez said about the states bright future in the press release.

“With businesses hiring at a record clip, there’s never been a better time to plan a great Texas career,” Alvarez said.