The Texas unemployment rate slipped to 4.2 percent in March, the lowest mark in nearly eight years, even as the state lost jobs for the first time in four years.
The Texas Workforce Commission announced Friday that nonfarm employment declined by 25,400 jobs in March, following 53 straight months of job growth. But the state’s civilian labor force and number of unemployed also declined, causing the jobless rates to fall slightly from February unemployment of 4.3 percent.
The nationwide jobless rate was 5.5 percent in March.
Texas is beginning to show the effects of reduced oil drilling activity following the precipitous decline in oil prices since last summer. Mining and logging, which includes the oil and gas industry, lost of about 2,800 jobs statewide.
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“While some workers may be temporarily impacted by statewide reductions in the oil and gas industry, our 28 local workforce boards stand ready to help these and all job seekers identify transferrable skills for other employment opportunities or obtain training that will help them quickly transition to new jobs,” TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Ronny Congleton said in a statement.
The state said the education and health services industry added 3,400 jobs, followed in job gains in financial services and leisure and hospitality.
“Maintaining a diversity of employment opportunities has kept Texas strong for the past four years,” Andres Alcantar, chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission, said in a statement. “We must continue to build and support partnerships that will help connect employers to a quality supply of skilled workers and equip job seekers with training that will help them succeed.”
Workforce commission officials in Austin say last month’s unemployment rate for Texas was the lowest since July 2007. Texas has added 327,500 jobs in the past year.
Unemployment in Fort Worth-Arlington held steady at 4.1 percent, but the number of employed fell by 54,000.
Midland had the lowest average jobless rate for Texas during March at 2.9 percent. The Texas Workforce Commission reports the state’s highest unemployment rate was the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission area at 7.5 percent.