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Holding Steady

Texas' unemployment rate stabilized in October at 8.1 percent as the state added almost 48,000 jobs. That rate, the lowest we've seen in 2010, is 1.5 points below the national average. Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports on the numbers behind the gains.

More jobs in Texas...but more people looking too.

Texas' unemployment rate stabilized in October at 8.1 percent as the state added almost 48,000 jobs, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.

That rate, the lowest the state has seen in 2010, is 1.5 points lower than the national average. It's also the same rate the state posted in October 2009 — but back then, the numbers were on their way up, to a high of 8.3 percent. 

Still, economists like Ray Perryman say the focus should be on job creation. He's pleased with this month's growth number and where the jobs were created.

"We had growth in constructions. We had growth in manufacturing. We had growth in minerals, which is basically oil and gas in Texas. We had growth in a lot of service categories, transportation," Perryman says. "So across the board we saw growth, and that's always good because that shows we've got a diversity of industries that are doing well as opposed to just one or two."

Overall, the state has added 172,000 jobs so far this year. But a multibillion-dollar state budget shortfall still looms, and cuts made during the 2011 legislative session could affect thousands of government jobs. According to the Workforce Commission, the state employed about 2.7 million state and local government and education workers in October.

But Perryman says those kinds of cuts are not likely. Anyway, he says, "when government changes policies, they tend to gradually do things, phase things. A lot of it would be done with attrition and early retirement and incentive packages, and people would be able to find jobs in the private sector."

Perryman doesn't think Texas will cut enough jobs to trigger a downturn in the economy, but that still doesn't mean it's going to be an easy legislative session. As he said earlier this year, "Lawmakers need to make the least-bad decision."

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