Texas, Fort Worth unemployment rate falls in March

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The strength of the Texas economy combined with a growing labor force contributed to a 5.5 percent March unemployment rate, the Texas Workforce Commission reported Friday.

The latest seasonally adjusted jobless rate for Texas compares to a 6.7 percent nationwide jobless rate during March.

Statewide unemployment stood at 5.7 percent in January and February, according to the TWC. The Texas jobless rate was 6.4 percent in March 2013.

“The Texas economy continues to move in the right direction with Texas employers adding 310,000 jobs over the year,” said Andres Alcantar, commission chairman. “All 11 of the major industries experienced annual job growth, with five industries exceeding growth rates of 3 percent.”

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Professional and business services added 5,600 jobs in March, more than any other major industry, officials said.

The Texas jobless rate has not been at a seasonally adjusted 5.5 percent since October 2008, said Lisa Givens, a commission spokeswoman.

“What’s also impressive is our labor force is continuing to swell,” Givens said. “We’re seeing a labor force at nearly 13 million, civilian labor force.”

Texas had a 2013 estimated population of nearly 26.5 million, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures.

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“In Texas, we acknowledge that it is our employers, both small and large, that are the economic engine of this great state,” said Commissioner Hope Andrade. “Private employers added 278,400 total jobs over the last year for an annual growth rate of 3 percent.”

The Midland area had the lowest jobless rate last month across Texas, at 2.7 percent. Neighboring Odessa had a 3.3 percent jobless rate for March.

The McAllen-Edinburg-Mission area had the state’s highest unemployment rate during March at 9.4 percent, according to commission figures.

The Dallas-Fort Worth area’s unemployment rate was 5.3 percent, down from 5.8 percent in February and down from 6.3 percent a year earlier. The Dallas-Plano-Irving unemployment rate was 5.4 percent, down from 5.8 percent in February and down from 6.3 percent a year earlier. The Fort Worth-Arlington area’s unemployment was slightly lower, 5.2 percent, down from 5.7 percent in February and 6.2 percent a year earlier. The TWC says Texas employers added 9,100 jobs last month — for a total of 310,000 jobs added over the year.

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“Many industries in Texas continue to post impressive annual growth, including Trade, Transportation, and Utilities, which added 73,400 jobs over the last year,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Ronny Congleton. “Texas job seekers looking to tap into careers in this and other thriving industries should take advantage of the training opportunities provided through Workforce Solutions and our education partners.” The Information industry also posted strong monthly growth with 2,300 jobs added in March. This was the best start to a year for the Information industry since 2000, with 2,400 jobs added in the first quarter of 2014. The industry grew by 3.2 percent over the year and added 6,400 jobs. www.twc.state.tx.us/