Texas Unemployment Rate Dips
Texas unemployment in December was down to 7.8%, the lowest since 2009. November’s rate was 8.1%. The Texas Workforce Commission says the big job gains were in leisure and hospitality, but government – which had generally been in layoff mode – added more than ten thousand jobs.
Lisa Givens, with the Workforce Commission says the Dallas-Plano-Irving sector is sharing lower unemployment figures, but actually LOST more jobs last month than it gained.
Givens: The gains for the month came in the financial activities, which was 300. Government jobs added over the month. And leisure and hospitality showed an increase of 2,300.
The job losses in North Texas were in mining, which includes gas drilling, construction,the information industry, education and health services.
Supreme Court Rejects Texas Redistricting
The U.S. Supreme Court has thrown out electoral maps drawn by federal judges in Texas that favored minorities. Today’s opinion leaves the fate of Texas' April primaries unclear. The justices ordered the three-judge court in San Antonio to come up with new plans, but did not compel the use of maps created by Texas' Republican-dominated state legislature. Only Justice Clarence Thomas said he would have gone that far.
Controversy over the maps arose from redrawing political boundaries based on results of the 2010 census that found that Texas added more than 4 million new residents, mostly Latinos and African-Americans, since 2000. The minority groups complained the Republican Legislature’s map ignored those population gains and violated the Voting Rights Act.
EPA Investigates Pig Blood From Packing Plant In Trinity River
The Texas Environmental Crimes Task Force is investigating alleged dumping of “pig blood and toxic chemicals” into the Trinity River south of downtown Dallas. Officials say a tip led investigators to the Columbia Packing Company on East 11th in Oak Cliff. Aerial photos made in December showed what appeared to be a dark substance in a creek behind the plant. That creek flows almost immediately into the Trinity River, just below the city’s “Standing Wave” for kayakers.
A field test by Texas Parks and Wildlife, part of the Task Force, confirmed swine blood and toxic chemicals. The Columbia plant has been at that location since 1952. City officials say there have been no recent complaints against the plant, which is a distribution and slaughtering operation. Calls to the company’s attorney have not been returned.
Dallas officials say results of the investigation will be turned over to the Dallas County District Attorney. The D-A’s office says it can’t comment on a current investigation.
Task Force Busts McKinney Heroin Ring
Ten people are under arrest in a McKinney heroin ring. Federal officials say a task force of 55 federal, state and local law officers conducted a round-up of the ten on Tuesday. The arrests follow a lengthy investigation into drug trafficking in the McKinney area.
The suspects arrested are from McKinney, Dallas and Van Alstyne, and range in age from 18 to 27. An indictment names six additional suspects, not yet in custody. Each faces up to 40 years in federal prison if convicted on heroin distribution charges.