Texas unemployment rate drops in September despite Harvey

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Texas unemployment rate fell for the fifth straight month, dropping to 4 percent in September despite jobs that were washed away by Hurricane Harvey, the Texas Workforce Commission reported Friday.

September’s unemployment rate was a drop from the 4.2 percent recorded in August. The national rate for September was 4.2 percent.

Amarillo had the lowest unemployment rate in Texas last month at 2.7 percent, followed by Midland at 2.8 percent. The highest rate was in the Beaumont-Port Arthur area at 8.1 percent. Harvey brought widespread flooding to the area after first making landfall Aug. 25 along the Texas Gulf Coast.

“Hurricane Harvey impacted overall job numbers in September, but the dynamic Texas economy has created jobs in 10 of 11 industries over the year,” commission Chairman Andres Alcantar said.

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About 7,300 jobs were lost statewide in September, largely due to Harvey, but those losses were more than offset by positions gained.

The financial industry added about 5,000 jobs while professional and business services added nearly 6,000. Those gains along with ones in other sectors offset the more than 21,000 jobs lost by the leisure and hospitality industry alone.

“Texas’ economic growth is boosted by the resilience of our employers who have added 230,300 private-sector jobs over the past year,” Commissioner Ruth R. Hughs said.

The U.S. Labor Department announced Thursday that the number of Americans collecting unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level since Richard Nixon was president. Claims for jobless aid nationally dropped by 22,000 to 222,000, the fewest since March 1973.

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The overall number of Americans collecting unemployment checks dropped to 1.89 million, lowest since December 1973 and down nearly 9 percent from a year ago.