4.5 percent in May 2018 – an increase of 898 jobs compared with May 2017 figure

For the fourth consecutive month, Edinburg posted the lowest unemployment rate in the Rio Grande Valley, coming in at 4.5 percent for May 2018, with 39,215 individuals employed that month in the city, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced.

 

Edinburg was one of two Rio Grande Valley economies for May 2018 which had an unemployment rate of less than five percent. McAllen was the other community, also coming in with a 4.5 percent unemployment rate for May 2018.

 

For May 2018, there were 39,215 individuals employed in the city, compared with 38,317 persons working in May 2017 – representing an addition of 898 jobs, according to the Texas Workforce Commission, which released statewide figures on Friday, June 15, 2018.

 

Also, Edinburg saw a growth of 10 jobs when comparing the monthly total for May 2018 (39,215) and April 2018 (39,205), the Texas Workforce Commission also reported.

 

The unemployment rate for Edinburg during April 2018 also was 4.5 percent.

 

The unemployment rate is a key indicator of the strength of the local economy.

 

The Edinburg EDC, of which Joey Treviño is the Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of Mayor Richard Molina, Mayor Pro-Tem David Torres, Councilmember Homer Jasso, Jr., Councilmember Gilbert Enríquez, and Councilmember Jorge Salinas.

 

The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Councilmember Enríquez as President, Edinburg School Board Trustee Miguel “Mike” Farías as Vice-President, Councilmember Salinas as Secretary/Treasurer, and Mayor Molina and Mayor Pro Tem Torres as Members.

 

In addition, the May 2018 unemployment rate of 4.5 percent represents the fifth time during that month that the city’s unemployment rate has been below five percent since 2005, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.

 

The number of jobs in Edinburg is independently documented by the Texas Workforce Commission, a state agency with many key duties, such as maintaining and reporting on key trends in state and local economies, including unemployment rates and the number of people employed in cities.

 

The unemployment rate is the number of persons unemployed, expressed as a percentage of the civilian labor force, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. The civilian labor force is that portion of the population age 16 and older employed or unemployed. To be considered unemployed, a person has to be not working but willing and able to work and actively seeking work.

 

For the past several years, Edinburg has registered the lowest or second-lowest monthly unemployment rate among all Valley cities.

 

Edinburg’s May 2018 unemployment rate of 4.5 percent is part of a consistent pattern of positive reports, including the April 2018 unemployment rate of 4.5 percent, March 2018 (4.7), February 2018 (4.9 percent), January 2018 (5.2 percent), December 2017 (4.8 percent), November 2017 (4.8 percent), October 2017 (4.9 percent), September 2017 (5.3 percent), August 2017 (6 percent), July (5.7 percent), June 2017 (5.6), May 2017 (4.9 percent), April 2017 (4.8 percent), March 2017 (5.4 percent), February 2017 (5.9 percent) and January 2017 (6.1 percent).

 

According to the Texas Workforce Commission, for the month of May 2018, these are the employment figures for the seven largest cities in the Valley:

 

Brownsville: 71,223

McAllen: 63,822

Edinburg: 39,215

Mission: 32,633

Pharr: 28,681

Harlingen: 23,450

Weslaco: 14,770

 

CITY’S MONTHLY, ANNUAL UNEMPLOYMENT REMAIN AMONG BEST IN VALLEY

 

Edinburg’s May 2018 unemployment rate and the latest figures from the Valley’s most populated cities follow:

 

Edinburg: 4.5 percent

McAllen: 4.5 percent

Mission: 5.6 percent

Harlingen: 6 percent

Brownsville: 6.1 percent

Pharr: 6.7 percent

Weslaco: 7 percent

 

The state’s unemployment rate in May 2018 was 3.7 percent, compared with 4.1 percent in May 2017.

 

The U.S. unemployment rate in May 2018 was 3.8 percent, compared with 4.3 percent the same month the previous year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000).

 

Edinburg’s annual unemployment rate for 2017 compared favorably with the Valley’s other major cities:

 

The annual unemployment rate in McAllen for 2017 was 5.1 percent;

The annual unemployment rate in Edinburg for 2017 was 5.3 percent;

The annual unemployment rate in Harlingen for 2o17 was 6.4 percent;

The annual unemployment rate in Mission for 2o17 was 6.8 percent;

The annual unemployment rate in Brownsville for 2017 was 7.2 percent;

The annual unemployment rate in Weslaco for 2o17 was 8 percent; and

The annual unemployment rate in Pharr for 2o17 was 8.1 percent.

 

Edinburg’s annual unemployment rates since 2005, which is the year in which the state government began preparing those figures using a more accurate formula, according to the Texas Workforce Commission, have registered as follows: 2017 (5.3 percent), 2016 (5.8 percent), 2015 (5 percent), 2014 (5.8 percent), 2013 (7 percent), 2012 (7.5 percent), 2011 (8.4 percent), 2010 (8.2 percent), 2009 (6.8 percent), 2008 (4.9 percent), 2007 (4.7 percent), 2006 (5.2 percent), and 2005 (4.9 percent).

 

Edinburg’s 2018 employment, by month, follows:

 

May: 39,215

April: 39,205

March: 39,203

February: 38,964

January: 38,514

 

Edinburg’s 2017 employment, by month, follows:

 

December: 38,595

November: 38,396

October: 38,181

September: 38,007

August: 37,442

July: 37,237

June: 38,047

May: 38,317

April: 38,407

March: 38,160

February: 37,895

January: 37,738

 

Also according to the Texas Workforce Commission, the major cities in the four-county Valley have recorded the following monthly unemployment rates in 2017, 2016, and 2015:

 

••••••

 

EDINBURG

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2018

 

May: 4.5 percent

April: 4.5 percent

March: 4.7 percent

February: 4.9 percent

January: 5.2 percent

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2017

 

December: 4.8 percent

November 2017: 4.8 percent

October 2017: 4.9 percent

September 2017: 5.3 percent

August: 6 percent

July: 5.7 percent

June: 5.6 percent

May: 4.9 percent

April: 4.8 percent

March: 5.4 percent

February: 5.9 percent

January: 6.1 percent

 

2017 Annual Unemployment Rate: 5.3 percent

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2016

 

December: 5.7 percent

November: 5.6 percent

October: 5.7 percent

September: 6.2 percent

August: 6.2 percent

July: 6.4 percent

June: 6.3 percent

May: 5.2 percent

April: 5.3 percent

March: 5.5 percent

February: 5.3 percent

January: 5.7 percent

 

2016 Annual Unemployment Rate: 5.8 percent

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate 2015

 

December: 4.7 percent

November: 4.6 percent

October: 4.9 percent

September: 5 percent

August: 5.4 percent

July: 5.7 percent

June: 5.5 percent

May: 5.1 percent

April: 4.6 percent

March: 4.8 percent

February: 4.9 percent

January: 5.2 percent

 

2015 Annual Unemployment Rate: 5 percent

 

••••••

 

McALLEN

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2018

 

May: 4.5 percent

April: 4.8 percent

March: 5 percent

February: 4.9 percent

January: 5 percent

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2017

 

December: 4.4 percent

November: 4.5 percent

October: 4.4 percent

September: 4.7 percent

August: 5.4 percent

July: 5.4 percent

June: 5.4 percent

May: 5.1 percent

April: 5 percent

March: 5.4 percent

February: 5.8 percent

January: 5.8 percent

 

2017 Annual Unemployment Rate: 5.1 percent

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2016

 

December: 5.4 percent

November: 5.1 percent

October: 5.3 percent

September: 5.8 percent

August: 6 percent

July: 6 percent

June: 5.8 percent

May: 4.9 percent

April: 5 percent

March: 5.1 percent

February: 5 percent

January: 5.2 percent

 

2016 Annual Unemployment Rate: 5.4 percent

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate 2015

 

December: 4.5 percent

November: 4.8 percent

October: 4.9 percent

September: 5.1 percent

August: 5.2 percent

July: 5.6 percent

June: 5.4 percent

May: 4.9 percent

April: 4.5 percent

March: 4.7 percent

February: 4.8 percent

January: 5.2 percent

 

2015 Annual Unemployment Rate: 5 percent

 

••••••

 

MISSION

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2018

 

May: 5.6 percent

April: 6 percent

March: 6.1 percent

February: 6 percent

January: 6.4 percent

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2017

 

December: 5.7 percent

November: 5.7 percent

October: 5.7 percent

September: 6.4 percent

August: 7.1 percent

July: 7.2 percent

June: 7.2 percent

May: 6.3 percent

April: 6.6 percent

March: 7.2 percent

February: 7.7 percent

January: 8.3 percent

 

2017 Annual Unemployment Rate: 6.8 percent

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2016

 

December: 7.4 percent

November: 7.1 percent

October: 6.9 percent

September: 7.3 percent

August: 7.6 percent

July: 7.9 percent

June: 7.8 percent

May: 6.8 percent

April: 7.1 percent

March: 7.4 percent

February: 7.3 percent

January: 7.6 percent

 

2016 Annual Unemployment Rate: 7.4 percent

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2015

 

December: 6.1 percent

November: 6.1 percent

October: 6.1 percent

September: 6.1 percent

August: 6.4 percent

July: 6.7 percent

June: 6.7 percent

May: 6.1 percent

April: 5.7 percent

March: 5.8 percent

February: 5.9 percent

January: 6.4 percent

 

2015 Annual Unemployment Rate: 6.2 percent

 

••••••

 

HARLINGEN

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2018

 

May: 6 percent

April: 5.8 percent

March: 6.1 percent

February: 6.2 percent

January: 6 percent

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2017

 

December: 5.4 percent

November: 5.9 percent

October: 5.5 percent

September: 5.9 percent

August: 6.7 percent

July: 6.7 percent

June: 6.6 percent

May: 6.2 percent

April: 6.3 percent

March: 6.8 percent

February: 7.1 percent

January: 7 percent

 

2017 Annual Unemployment Rate: 6.4 percent

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2016

 

December: 6.2 percent

November: 6.1 percent

October: 6.4 percent

September: 6.5 percent

August: 6.6 percent

July 2016: 6.3 percent

June 2016: 6.3 percent

May 2016: 5.7 percent

April 2016: 5.7 percent

March 2016: 5.8 percent

February 2016: 5.8 percent

January 2016: 5.7 percent

 

2016 Annual Unemployment Rate: 6.1 percent

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2015

 

December: 5.3 percent

November: 5.6 percent

October: 5.7 percent

September: 5.9 percent

August: 6.2 percent

July: 6.4 percent

June: 6.4 percent

May: 6 percent

April: 5.5 percent

March: 5.7 percent

February: 5.9 percent

January: 6.5 percent

 

2015 Annual Unemployment Rate: 5.9 percent

 

••••••

 

BROWNSVILLE

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2018

 

May: 6.1 percent

April: 6.5 percent

March: 6.7 percent

February: 6.9 percent

January: 7.1 percent

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2017

 

December: 6.1 percent

November: 6 percent

October: 5.8 percent

September: 6.6 percent

August: 7.5 percent

July: 7.6 percent

June: 7.9 percent

May: 6.8 percent

April: 7.2 percent

March: 7.4 percent

February: 8.2 percent

January: 8.8 percent

 

2017 Annual Unemployment Rate: 7.2 percent

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2016

 

December: 8.1 percent

November: 7.7 percent

October: 7.6 percent

September 2016: 8.2 percent

August 2016: 8.4 percent

July 2016: 8.5 percent

June: 8.5 percent

May: 7.1 percent

April: 7.1 percent

March: 7.3 percent

February: 7.2 percent

January 2016: 7.4 percent

 

2016 Annual Unemployment Rate: 7.8 percent

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2015

 

December: 6.9 percent

November: 6.8 percent

October: 6.5 percent

September: 6.6 percent

August: 7 percent

July: 7.2 percent

June: 7.2 percent

May: 6.8 percent

April: 6.6 percent

March: 7.2 percent

February: 7.3 percent

January: 8 percent

 

2015 Annual Unemployment Rate: 7 percent

 

••••••

 

PHARR

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2018

 

May: 6.7 percent

April: 7.4 percent

March: 7.5 percent

February: 7.6 percent

January: 8.3 percent

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2017

 

December: 7.1 percent

November: 6.9 percent

October: 6.4 percent

September: 7.6 percent

August: 8.9 percent

July: 8.7 percent

June: 8.9 percent

May: 7.6 percent

April: 7.8 percent

March: 8.5 percent

February: 8.8 percent

January: 9.8 percent

 

2017 Annual Unemployment Rate: 8.1 percent

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2016

 

December 2016: 8.9 percent

November 2016: 7.9 percent

October 2016: 7.2 percent

September: 8.2 percent

August 2016: 8.7 percent

July 2016: 9 percent

June 2016: 9.1 percent

May 2016: 7.5 percent

April 2016: 7.8 percent

March 2016: 8.1 percent

February 2o16: 8.1 percent

January 2016: 8.8 percent

 

2016 Annual Unemployment Rate: 8.3 percent

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2015

 

December: 7.2 percent

November: 7 percent

October: 6.4 percent

September: 6.6 percent

August: 7.3 percent

July: 7.6 percent

June: 7.4 percent

May: 6.5 percent

April: 6.2 percent

March: 6.5 percent

February: 6.8 percent

January: 7.6 percent

 

2015 Annual Unemployment Rate: 6.9 percent

 

••••••

 

WESLACO

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2018

 

May: 7 percent

April: 7.4 percent

March: 7.2 percent

February: 7.3 percent

January: 8.6 percent

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2017

 

December: 8 percent

November: 7.2 percent

October: 6 percent

September: 7.3 percent

August: 9 percent

July: 9.2 percent

June: 8.8 percent

May: 7.2 percent

April: 7.1 percent

March: 7.5 percent

February: 8.2 percent

January: 9.7 percent

 

2017 Annual Unemployment Rate: 8 percent

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2016

 

December 2016: 9.5 percent

November 2016: 8.1 percent

October 2016: 6.7 percent

September 2016: 8.3 percent

August 2016: 8.8 percent

July 2016: 9.3 percent

June 2016: 8.8 percent

May 2016: 6.8 percent

April 2016: 6.9 percent

March: 7.7 percent

February 2016: 7.5 percent

January 2016: 8.3 percent.

 

2016 Annual Unemployment Rate: 8.1 percent

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate 2015

 

December: 6.8 percent

November: 6.5 percent

October: 5.8 percent

September: 6.6 percent

August: 6.7 percent

July: 6.6 percent

June: 6.3 percent

May: 6 percent

April: 5.6 percent

March: 6 percent

February: 6.5 percent

January: 7.2 percent

 

2015 Annual Unemployment Rate: 6.4 percent

 

••••••

 

ADDITIONAL REGIONAL ECONOMIC STATISTICS

 

Also according to the Texas Workforce Commission, the four counties in the Rio Grande Valley have recorded the following monthly unemployment rates in 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015:

 

HIDALGO COUNTY

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2018

 

May: 6.2 percent

April: 6.6 percent

March: 6.9 percent

February: 7.1 percent

January: 7.6 percent

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2017

 

December: 6.6 percent

November: 6.3 percent

October: 5.9 percent

September: 6.8 percent

August: 7.8 percent

July: 7.8 percent

June: 7.9 percent

May: 7 percent

April: 7.3 percent

March: 7.7 percent

February: 8.3 percent

January: 9 percent

 

The annual combined unemployment rate for all cities in Hidalgo County for 2o17 was 7.4 percent.

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2016

 

December: 8.2 percent

November: 7.5 percent

October: 7.1 percent

September: 7.9 percent

August: 8.3 percent

July: 8.5 percent

June: 8.4 percent

May: 7.1 percent

April: 7.2 percent

March: 7.7 percent

February: 7.7 percent

January: 8.1 percent

 

The annual combined unemployment rate for all cities in Hidalgo County for 2o16 was 7.8 percent.

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2015

 

December: 7.9 percent

November: 7.8 percent

October: 7.4 percent

September: 7.7 percent

August: 8.2 percent

July: 8.5 percent

June: 8.4 percent

May: 7.7 percent

April: 7.3 percent

March: 7.7 percent

February: 7.9 percent

January: 8.5 percent

 

The annual combined unemployment rate for all cities in Hidalgo County for 2o15 was 7.9 percent.

 

••••••

 

CAMERON COUNTY

 

May: 6 percent

April: 6.3 percent

March: 6.5 percent

February: 6.7 percent

January: 6.8 percent

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2017

 

December: 5.9 percent

November: 5.9 percent

October: 5.8 percent

September: 6.4 percent

August: 7.2 percent

July: 7.2 percent

June: 7.5 percent

May: 6.6 percent

April: 6.8 percent

March: 7.2 percent

February: 7.8 percent

January: 8.2 percent

 

The annual combined unemployment rate for all cities in Cameron County for 2o17 was 6.9 percent.

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2016

 

December: 7.3 percent

November: 7 percent

October: 7 percent

September: 7.4 percent

August: 7.6 percent

July: 7.7 percent

June: 7.8 percent

May: 6.6 percent

April: 6.7 percent

March: 7 percent

February: 6.9 percent

January: 7.1 percent

 

The annual combined unemployment rate for all cities in Cameron County for 2o16 was 7.2 percent.

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2015

 

December: 6.8 percent

November: 6.9 percent

October: 6.7 percent

September: 6.7 percent

August: 7.1 percent

July: 7.4 percent

June: 7.5 percent

May: 7 percent

April: 6.8 percent

March: 7.2 percent

February: 7.4 percent

January: 8 percent

 

The annual combined unemployment rate in Cameron County for 2o15 was 7.1 percent.

 

Also for May 2018, there were 326,163 individuals employed in Hidalgo County, while 157,350 persons were employed in Cameron County during the same month.

 

••••••

 

STARR COUNTY

 

May: 9.6 percent

April: 10.7 percent

March: 10.8 percent

February: 11.4 percent

January: 12.2 percent

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2017

 

December: 10.1 percent

November: 9.4 percent

October: 8.7 percent

September: 9.7 percent

August: 10.9 percent

July: 11.4 percent

June: 11.9 percent

May: 11 percent

April: 12.6 percent

March: 13.4 percent

February: 14.7 percent

January: 15.7 percent

 

The annual combined unemployment rate in Starr County for 2o17 was 11.7 percent.

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2016

 

December: 13.8 percent

November: 12.7 percent

October: 12.1 percent

September: 13.3 percent

August: 13.7 percent

July: 14 percent

June: 13.9 percent

May: 12.1 percent

April: 13.1 percent

March: 14 percent

February: 13.5 percent

January: 13.8 percent

 

The annual combined unemployment rate for all cities in Starr County for 2o16 was 13.3 percent.

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2015

 

December: 13.4 percent

November: 13.3 percent

October: 12.6 percent

September: 12.6 percent

August: 13.6 percent

July: 14.1 percent

June: 14.1 percent

May: 13.1 percent

April: 12.9 percent

March: 13.8 percent

February: 13.8 percent

January: 14.3 percent

 

The annual combined unemployment rate in Starr County for 2o15 was 13.5 percent.

 

••••••

 

WILLACY COUNTY

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2018

 

May: 11 percent

April: 11.2 percent

March: 11.1 percent

February: 11.4 percent

January: 11 percent

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2017

 

December: 9 percent

November: 8.8 percent

October: 8.9 percent

September: 9.6 percent

August: 11.1 percent

July: 12 percent

June: 11.7 percent

May: 11.3 percent

April: 11.7 percent

March: 12.1 percent

February: 12.5 percent

January: 12.9 percent

 

The annual combined unemployment rate in Willacy County for 2o17 was 11 percent.

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2016

 

December: 11.1 percent

November: 11.1 percent

October: 11.3 percent

September: 12.3 percent

August: 12.8 percent

July: 13.7 percent

June: 13.5 percent

May: 12.1 percent

April: 12.1 percent

March: 12.4 percent

February: 12.2 percent

January: 12.4 percent

 

The annual combined unemployment rate for all cities in Willacy County for 2o16 was 12.2 percent.

 

Monthly Unemployment Rate, 2015

 

December: 12 percent

November: 12.5 percent

October: 12.9 percent

September: 12.4 percent

August: 13.7 percent

July: 14.3 percent

June: 14.6 percent

May: 13.6 percent

April: 13.4 percent

March: 13.2 percent

February: 11.6 percent

January: 12.1 percent

 

The annual combined unemployment rate for all cities in Willacy County for 2o15 was 13 percent.

 

For May 2018, there were 23,598 individuals employed in Starr County, while during the same month, 5,676 persons were employed in Willacy County.

 

MORE DETAILED FIGURES ON NUMBER OF JOBS, UNEMPLOYMENT RATES FOR EDINBURG

 

More detailed information about the labor market and unemployment rates in Edinburg follows:

 

Edinburg 2016 Employment, By Month

 

December: 37,915

November: 37,704

October: 37,404

September: 37,124

August: 36,908

July: 36,569

June: 37,299

May: 37,635

April: 37,607

March: 37,447

February: 37,169

January: 36,776

 

Edinburg 2015 Employment, By Month

 

December: 35,984

November: 35,904

October: 35,530

September: 35,293

August: 35,108

July: 35,027

June: 35,683

May: 36,111

April: 35,872

March: 35,741

February: 35,544

January: 35,436

 

Edinburg 2014 Employment, By Month

 

December: 35,666

November: 35,686

October: 35,535

September: 35,173

August: 34,763

July: 34,611

June: 35,301

May: 35,529

April: 35,486

March: 35,301

February: 35,232

January: 35,049

 

Edinburg 2013 Employment, By Month

 

December: 35,099

November: 34,838

October: 34,323

September: 34,248

August: 33,921

July: 33,668

June: 34,249

May: 34,444

April: 34,495

March: 34,137

February: 34,121

January: 34,018

 

Edinburg Monthly Unemployment Rates, 2014

 

December: 4.7 percent

November: 5.2 percent

October: 5.5 percent

September: 5.7 percent

August: 6.4 percent

July: 6.7 percent

June: 6.5 percent

May: 5.8 percent

April: 5.2 percent

March: 5.9 percent

February: 6.2 percent

January: 6.2 percent

 

Annual Unemployment Rate: 5.8 percent

 

Edinburg Monthly Unemployment Rates, 2013

 

December: 6.1 percent

November: 6.4 percent

October: 7 percent

September: 7 percent

August: 7.2 percent

July: 7.6 percent

June: 7.7 percent

May: 7 percent

April: 6.4 percent

March: 6.9 percent

February: 7.2 percent

January: 7.3 percent

 

Annual Unemployment Rate: 7.0 percent.

 

Because of substantial methodology changes between 2004 and 2005 in estimating city unemployment statistics, Texas city data is not available prior to 2005, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.

 

Because of substantial methodology changes in geographic areas below the state level, data from 2005 and 2004 or earlier is not considered comparable, the state agency explains.

 

Effective in March 2015, the TWC also notes that “for all sub-state LAUS estimates, a break in series exists between December 2009 and January 2010 due to a change in methodology used. The use of caution is advised when comparing data from prior to 2010 to that of 2010-present.

 

The Texas Workforce Commission data on all entities in the state, including cities and counties, is available online at:

 

http://www.tracer2.com/cgi/dataanalysis/AreaSelection.asp?tableName=Labforce

 

TEAM OF UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS RIO GRANDE VALLEY PROFESSORS RESEARCHING VALLEY’S HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS; STUDY IDENTIFIES FACTORS IN RESIDENTS’ EVACUATION DECISIONS

 

UTRGV VIDEO by María Elena Hernández: https://youtu.be/VZzCXWf8fM4

 

Hurricane season is underway, and professors at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley are researching ways to help the community deal with potential storms.

 

Dr. Dean Kyne, Dr. Arlett Lomeli, Dr. David Wladyka and Dr. Katarzynia Sepielak, of the UTRGV Department of Sociology and Anthropology, along with Dr. Owen Temby of the UTRGV School of Earth, Environmental, and Marine Sciences and the Department of Political Science, are studying the Rio Grande Valley's hurricane resiliency – the ability to prepare for and bounce back from hurricanes.

 

“Without resiliency, it may take years and years in the building, recovering and rebuilding process,” Kyne said.

 

The first step in measuring hurricane resiliency is defining it and agreeing on its indicators. Two graduate students already are collecting data from key stakeholders, like county and state officials.

 

“We have to begin with whether they agree on the concept and if they all agree on the indicators,” Kyne said. “They have to be on the same page.”

 

After analyzing the data collected, the professors hope to move to the next step: measuring the Rio Grande Valley’s current level of hurricane resiliency.

 

“Once you are able to measure the current state, then we can think about, “Well, this is the current level of our resilience? What are the areas where we can improve?’ We can set the goal. We can set the numbers and we can move forward. And, we can work together in order to build more resiliency, or we can retain all the resiliency that we have built in the past years,” Kyne said.

 

The study is not the first one UTRGV professors have conducted to help with hurricane preparedness in the Rio Grande Valley.

 

Last year, Kyne, Lomeli, Dr. William Donner of the UTRGV Department of Sociology and Anthropology, and then-undergraduate student Erika Zuloaga published a paper about evacuations, titled “Who Will Stay, Who Will Leave: Decision-Making of Residents Living in Potential Hurricane Impact Areas During a Hypothetical Hurricane Event in the Rio Grande Valley.”

 

“That study shows evacuation decision-making is not as simple as one might think,” Kyne said.

 

Factors people consider when deciding whether or not to evacuate include what they identified as safe places, the material their home is made of, what floor of an apartment building they live on, and the amount of help they expect to get from the government or other agencies after the storm. Age and level of education also had an impact on the decision to evacuate or not.

 

The researchers also identified the following seven reasons people would not evacuate the area because of a hurricane.

 

• A pet that can’t travel or they don’t want to leave alone.

• No place to go.

• No money to leave.

• Not wanting to leave their belongings.

• No friends or relatives living in places outside the evacuation zone.

• Elders who wouldn’t or couldn’t travel.

• Family member unable to travel due to a disability or medical condition.

 

The paper also included a geographic distribution of people willing to evacuate during a hurricane.

 

“I also would like to emphasize one finding that is very helpful for the authorities – the recommendation by the authorities to evacuate. You can that see many people indicate willingness to follow the recommendation made by the authorities,” Kyne said.

 

Along with this research, UTRGV offers a Master of Arts in Disaster Studies, a program that trains those interested in emergency management roles. Last year, students assisted with Hurricane Harvey cleanup and spoke with Corpus Christi officials about the decision process during the hurricane.

 

More information about the UTRGV master's program is available at http://www.utrgv.edu/sociology/graduate/disaster-studies-ma/index.htm.

 

María Elena Hernández contributed to this article. For more information on the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation and the City of Edinburg, please log on to http://edinburgedc.com.