The state's unemployment rate fell for the fourth month in a row in December, capping off a drop of more than 1 percentage point in the rate since December 2011, the Texas Workforce Commission announced Friday.

While December's rate only dropped 0.1 percentage point — 6.2 percent to 6.1 percent — from November, the rate for the end of 2012 was 1.3 percentage points below unemployment the year before. Texas employers added 4,100 nonfarm jobs last month, adding up to 260,800 jobs gained cumulatively over the course of the year.

"With those positive strides and 11,800 private sector jobs added in the past month, 2012 was a strong year for Texas," Workforce Commission Chairman Andres Alcantar said in a news release. "My hope is that the Texas economy will build on that success in 2013."

Texas' unemployment rate continues to be lower than the national rate. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics news release, the national rate held steady at 7.8 percent, with no change from November to December.

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The state's goods-producing sectors (mining and logging, construction and manufacturing) nearly broke even, adding 500 jobs collectively for December. The construction sector saw a loss for the second month in a row, dropping 4,100 jobs. The largest sector to see a decline was in the government sector, which lost 7,700 jobs last month.

The small gains came primarily from growth in the business and manufacturing sectors, which added 13,300 and 4,100 jobs, respectively.

Of the 260,800 jobs Texas added over the course of 2012, 257,400 came from nongovernment positions.

"Texas is leading the way in helping to make the United States energy independent," Tom Pauken, the Texas workforce commissioner representing employers, said in the news release. "Our robust energy sector not only is creating good paying jobs for many Texans in that industry but also is spurring job growth in many other industries."

According to the state release, the Midland Metropolitan Statistical Area again had the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 3.1 percent, which increased slightly from November. Odessa again came in second at 3.7 percent, and Amarillo was third at 4.1 percent.

Three areas reached over 10 percent unemployment in December. The Brownsville-Harlingen area and McAllen-Edinburg-Mission are tied for the worst unemployment rates, both reaching 10.3 percent. The Beaumont-Port Arthur area also saw an increase of 0.8 points since November, reaching 10 percent unemployment.

Texas Labor Force Job Totals (December 2012; Seasonally Adjusted)
 Nov. 2012Dec. 2012Dec. 2011
Mining and Logging 258,200 259,800 253,500
Construction 595,600 591,500 554,700
Manufacturing 847,300 850,300 844,600
Trade, Transportation, Utilities 2,181,500 2,182,000 2,126,000
Information 190,900 190,200 193,500
Financial Activities 652,700 651,400 646,300
Professional and Business Services 1,393,600 1,406,900 1,359,900
Education and Health Services 1,490,800 1,492,100 1,445,500
Leisure and Hospitality 1,115,200 1,111,500 1,064,000
Other Services 386,700 388,600 378,900
Government 1,787,400 1,779,700 1,776,300

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