Texas’ unemployment rate — 7.8 percent — is the lowest it’s been since July 2009, when the recession was just heating up, according to employment statistics released by the Texas Workforce Commission today.
“Texas continues to see signs of improvement in the labor market,” said Tom Pauken, chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission in a press release.
Nationally, claims for unemployment benefits are low and the country is gaining jobs. The state unemployment rate is still below the national unemployment rate, currently at 8.5 percent. Although growth will be slow, economists speculate job gains will continue across the country.
The public sector also added jobs in Texas for the first time in five months. Federal, state and local governments combined gained 10,100 jobs, which reduced the number of government jobs lost in the state over the last year from 63,900 jobs in November to 55,500 in December.
Over the last year, government, information services and construction are the only industries with an aggregate decline in jobs. From December 2010 to December 2011, professional and business services gained the most jobs (53,100 jobs), followed by trade, transportation and utilities (45,800 jobs), and leisure and hospitality (41,200 jobs).
Mining and logging, which includes drilling for oil and fracking for natural gas, is still the fastest-growing industry and gained an additional 2,000 jobs in December. Midland and Odessa, well-known energy hubs, continue to have the lowest unemployment rates out of Texas' metropolitan areas at 3.9 percent and 5 percent, respectively.