Waco’s jobless rate continues to drop, slipping to 3.4 percent in December amid reports of projects that could bring more work to the area.
A press release Friday from the Texas Workforce Commission shows an estimated 121,300 people were working last month in the Waco Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes McLennan and Falls counties.
That represents an estimated 300-person increase from November but falls below the estimated 122,300 people appearing on local payrolls in November of last year, according to the commission.
The workforce commission will release updated and revised jobless figures next month for 2017 that could change the totals for the Waco Metropolitan Statistical Area, said Kris Collins, senior vice president for economic development at the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce.
Statewide, Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemploment rate hit 3.9 percent in December, less than the U.S. jobless rate of 4.1 percent. The Texas economy added an estimated 306,900 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs over the year, including 400 jobs last month.
“Texas ended 2017 with record-level job creation numbers during the fourth quarter, with 10 of 11 industries expanding over the year,” commission Chairman Andres Alcantar said in the press release.
Amarillo and Midland recorded the month’s lowest jobless rate among Texas MSAs, both with a non-seasonally adjusted rate of 2.5 percent. The Austin-Round Rock, Bryan-College Station and Lubbock MSAs enjoyed rates of 2.7 percent, while San Angelo, San Antonio-New Braunfels and Sherman-Denison had rates of 3 percent, according to the workforce commission.
This week, the Waco City Council and McLennan County Commissioners Court approved tax breaks for $25 million worth of improvements to Coke’s Minute Maid plant at Hewitt and Imperial drives. The expansion is expected to protect the 331 existing jobs and add 10 jobs at the plant.
Fairlife, a joint venture between Coca-Cola and Select Milk Producers, plans to place a milk production line at the 660,000-square-foot facility.
Coca-Cola will add for its own use a new “flexible brew system,” which will allow the plant to meet growing demand for its tea and coffee products.
Collins said Waco beat out an East Coast community to gain a commitment from Fairlife.
Local commercial real estate agent Gregg Glime, with Coldwell Banker Jim Stewart Realtors, said he knows of “five or six” industrial prospects wanting space for smaller plants that would employ 10 to 15 apiece.
The Waco MSA’s manufacturing sector grew by an estimated 100 positions between December 2016 and December 2017.
Allied Universal, a major provider of security services, will hold a job fair in Waco on Thursday for people pursuing careers as security officers, account managers, supervisors and dispatchers. It will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at the Workforce Solutions Heart of Texas office at 1416 S. New Road.