The Texas jobs machine continues to drag on

The Texas jobs machine continues to drag on

The Houston area added jobs for the 20th straight month as local and state labor markets continue to improve.

Houston employers increased payrolls by 13,000 jobs last month after similar gains in September and August. Across Texas, employers added nearly 50,000 jobs, pushing total employment of more than 14 million for the first time in Texas history.

The state unemployment rate was unchanged at 4 percent, the lowest level since before the pandemic in February 2020, when unemployment stood at 3.5 percent. Houston’s unemployment rate was 4.1 percent, down from 5.4 percent a year ago.

“Another solid month of job growth for Houston,” said Parker Harvey, chief economist at Workforce Solutions, a regional workforce development agency.

Statewide, professional and business services, which include law and accounting firms, consulting firms, staffing firms and a host of other businesses, led the gains, adding 18,700 jobs in October, leisure and hospitality, which includes bars, restaurants and hotels, added 11,600. jobs, and trade, transportation and utilities added 7,400.

Financial activities were the only major sector in Texas that lost jobs, shedding 700 positions last month, a drop of one-tenth.

In particular, employment in all of the state’s major metropolitan areas remains healthy. The McAllen-Edinburg-Mission MSA in the Rio Grande Valley had the highest unemployment rate in Texas in October, at 6.1 percent, down from 7.7 percent in October 2021. Unemployment in the Beaumont-Port Arthur area fell to 5.9 percent from 8 percent in October. October 2021.

Amarillo and Austin posted the state’s lowest unemployment rate among major metro areas at 2.8 percent. The Austin metro area is notable for its highly educated workforce: Half of people over 25 in the city have a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the Austin Chamber of Commerce, compared to 33 percent in Texas and 35 percent in the United States.

Job growth, however, is slowing down, across the country, due primarily to the Federal Reserve’s efforts to curb inflation through interest rate hikes. The United States added 261,000 jobs in October, the Labor Department reported earlier this month, well below the monthly average of 407,000 in 2022.

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