The state unemployment rate moved up slightly last month amid signs that job growth has slowed, according to reports released Friday.
The Texas Workforce Commission reported that unemployment reached 4.9 percent in February, up from 4.8 percent in January. Nationwide, unemployment last month was 4.7 percent.
In Fort Worth-Arlington, the jobless rate was 4.4 percent in February, up from 4.2 percent in January. Unemployment in the Dallas-Fort Worth region was 4.3 percent.
While the workforce commission reported that 6,700 nonfarm jobs were added in February, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said Texas lost 1,200 jobs during the month following a strong gain of 55,700 jobs in January.
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“Although jobs declined slightly in February, the strength in January puts growth for the first two months of this year at a healthy 2.7 percent,” said Keith R. Phillips, Dallas Fed assistant vice president and senior economist, in a statement. “Along with the steady increase in the Texas Leading Index, this suggests that growth will rise above the state’s long-term average of 2.1 percent this year. Last year, job growth in the state was 1.7 percent.”
Phillips said that both the oil and gas industry, spurred by increased drilling activity in West Texas, and manufacturing showed strong gains in the first two months of 2017.
Amarillo had the state’s lowest February jobless rate in Texas at 3.6 percent. The Lubbock and Austin-Round Rock areas both recorded 3.7 percent unemployment for the month, the statement said.
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission recorded the highest unemployment last month at 8.8 percent, officials said.
The education and health services industry recorded the largest private-industry employment gain over the month with 11,700 jobs added. Leisure and hospitality employment grew by 4,400 jobs in February, the commission reported. Manufacturing employment expanded by 3,900 jobs.
“Texas employers continue to keep our state’s economy strong with private-sector employment expanding over the year with an overall job-growth of 189,200, including 12,300 jobs added in February,” said Commissioner Ruth R. Hughs.
Staff writer Steve Kaskovich contributed to this report which includes material from The Associated Press.