Fitch Ratings has upgraded Johnson County’s general obligation rating to AA-minus from A-plus, affecting $10.4 million of outstanding bonds and $12.3 million of certificates of obligation.

South of Dallas and Tarrant Counties in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, Johnson County has a population of 160,000, including the county seat of Cleburne, which is rated A-plus by Fitch.

Analysts noted the county’s strong fiscal management, solid reserves, and low debt levels.

The recent discovery that the county sits atop the Barnett Shale, one of the nation’s largest natural gas fields, has added substantial value to its tax base, most notably over the last three fiscal years, analysts added.

The county population has steadily grown by an annual average rate of 2.1%, the same rate as Texas but slower than the DFW metro area.

While the county’s jobless rate has historically been below the state and national levels, unemployment in October rose to 9.1% from 4.8% a year earlier.

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