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El Paso unemployment rate lowest in nearly four years

Over the past couple of months, El Paso’s unemployment rate has dipped to its lowest level since early 2009.

So what’s going on in the job market? And what’s ahead for El Pasoans when it comes to job creation?

“We’re opening a new location on the West Side,” said David Lepe, part-owner of Lucy’s Cafe, which plans to expand next month from two to three locations. “We feel there is demand for another restaurant and we are looking to hire at least another 10 employees.”

Ten more jobs in a city where the unemployment rate is usually above the national average.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in November of 2011, El Paso’s unemployment rate was at 9.6 percent. In November of 2012, it dipped to 8.2 percent, a 1.4 percent difference over a year or about 5,000 jobs, the lowest unemployment rate in El Paso in three and a half years.

“Obviously, its been a very positive sign that our economy has been recovering,” said Lorenzo Reyes, executive director of Workforce Solutions Upper Rio Grande. “We see a lot of positive signs that the unemployment is going to continue to decrease. We have some industries that are growing. Government, they’ve been hiring more people. We have the retail industry that is growing. We have transportation that is growing. Education and the health industry is also growing.”

El Pasoan Jacqueline Medrano is currently out of work, but confident after hearing that the unemployment rate is dropping that she will find a job soon.

“I know quite a few people that are looking for work,” Medrano said. “Out of five, maybe three have found work.”

Reyes cautions federal job cuts could be on the way in the next couple of weeks, but he is confident new construction like the Downtown ballpark and nearly half a billion in bond projects will help.

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