Texas jobless rate drops for 1st time in 16 months

AP News
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Posted: Dec 18, 2009 11:35 AM

The state unemployment rate dropped to 8 percent in November, the first decrease in Texas in 16 months, officials said Friday.

The jobless rate fell from 8.3 percent in October and Texas added 17,300 nonagricultural jobs for a total of 70,000 jobs added over two months, according to figures released by the Texas Workforce Commission.

The last monthly decrease came in June 2008, when the rate fell to 4.4 percent from 4.5 percent the previous month.

"Job growth coupled with a lower unemployment rate indicate movement in a positive direction for Texas," commission chairman Tom Pauken said.

Job gains were steady across most industries. The biggest increase came in mining and logging at 5,100 jobs. There were gains of more than 4,000 jobs in leisure and hospitality (4,800), financial activities (4,700), education and health services (4,600) and other services (4,600).

Trade, transportation and utilities lost the most jobs at 4,500, while manufacturing lost 4,200.

"Job growth in the last two months has been encouraging," said Ronny Congleton, the commissioner representing labor. "However, we know many Texans are still out of work."

The state's jobless rate is still tracking well below the national average of 10 percent.

Unemployment rates are adjusted for seasonal trends in hiring and firing, which most economists believe gives a better picture of the job market.

The number of initial claims for unemployment 98,119 from 107,555 in October. The number of continuing claims jumped to 1.22 million from 1.09 million, but the number of unemployed Texans dropped to 972,200 in November after topping 1 million last month for the first time in the current economic downturn.

Without the seasonal adjustment, Texas' unemployment rate dropped to 7.9 percent from 8.1 percent in October.

The following are the preliminary November jobless rates for specific areas of Texas, with revised October numbers in parentheses. The local figures are not seasonally adjusted.

Abilene 5.9 (6.1)

Amarillo 5.3 (5.5)

Austin-Round Rock 6.9 (7.2)

Beaumont-Port Arthur 10.4 (10.8)

Brownsville-Harlingen 10.5 (10.5)

College Station-Bryan 5.9 (6.0)

Corpus Christi 7.5 (7.7)

Dallas-Plano-Irving 7.9 (8.3)

El Paso 9.2 (9.5)

Fort Worth-Arlington 8.0 (8.2)

Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown 8.2 (8.4)

Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood 7.0 (7.1)

Laredo 8.6 (8.7)

Longview 7.6 (8.0)

Lubbock 5.4 (5.4)

McAllen-Edinburg-Mission 11.2 (11.2)

Midland 5.6 (5.8)

Odessa 8.5 (8.9)

San Angelo 6.4 (6.6)

San Antonio 6.8 (7.0)

Sherman-Denison 8.2 (8.5)

Texarkana 6.3 (6.6)

Tyler 7.9 (8.0)

Victoria 7.6 (7.8)

Waco 6.9 (6.9)

Wichita Falls 7.5 (7.8)