May 20, 2011

Texas Continues Leading Nation Unemployment Drops To 8 Percent

Austin Texas (May 20, 2011)  The Texas unemployment rate dropped for the third consecutive month to 8.0 percent in April as another 32,900 nonfarm jobs were added, the state employment agency said Friday.

Jobs grew for the seventh consecutive month, and Texas has added more than 86,000 positions since the start of the year, according to Texas Workforce Commission figures.

The Texas jobless rate dropped from 8.1 percent in March and 8.2 percent a year ago, remaining below the national figure of 9.0 percent. The March figure marked the first time in four years that the state's unemployment rate fell in consecutive months.

“Texas has demonstrated its ability to bounce back from the effects of the national recession through strong and consistent job growth over the past year,” commission Chairman Tom Pauken said in a statement, noting that Texas led the nation by adding 500,000 jobs in the past five years.

The trade, transportation and utilities sector added 17,900 jobs in April and has gained 48,700 positions over the past year. Education and health services added 11,300 jobs last month.  Professional and business services tacked on 8,000 jobs, and the sector has had the strongest year-over-year increase with 57,900 positions.

“The decrease in the unemployment rate over the month and over the year is another welcome sign,” said Andres Alcantar, the commissioner representing the public.

Unemployment rates are adjusted for seasonal trends in hiring and firing, which most economists believe give a more accurate picture of the job market. Without the seasonal adjustment, the jobless rate in Texas dropped to 7.7 percent in April from 8.1 percent in March.

The jobless rate for Dallas-Plano-Irving was 7.7 percent for April, down from 8.1 in March. The rate for Fort Worth-Arlington stood at 7.6 percent last month, down from 8.0 percent.

Midland maintained the state's lowest local jobless rate at 4.4 percent for April. Brownsville-Harlingen remained the highest at 11.5 percent, down from 12.0 percent in March. The local rates are not seasonally adjusted.

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The AP contributed to this article