Texas job growth flattens in December, jobless rate holds steady

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said jobs in Texas increased by 1.6 percent in 2016.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said jobs in Texas increased by 1.6 percent in 2016. AP

The Texas unemployment rate held steady in December at 4.6 percent as job growth nearly ground to a halt, the Texas Workforce Commission reported Friday.

Texas added just 800 nonfarm jobs last month, the agency said in a statement, bringing to 210,200 the number of seasonally adjusted jobs added since December 2015.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said Texas lost 700 jobs in December after adding 35,100 in November. For the full year, jobs increased by 1.6 percent after rising 1.3 percent in 2015, the Dallas Fed said.

“Job growth was close to zero in December but was revised up sharply in November resulting in 1.8 percent growth for the fourth quarter,” said Keith R. Phillips, assistant vice president and senior economist at the Dallas Fed. “Recent moderate job growth and a strong December increase in the Texas Leading Index suggest some upward momentum heading into 2017.”

The Dallas Fed’s Texas Employment Forecast stands at 1.9 percent growth for 2017, suggesting that 233,000 jobs will be added in Texas for the year, slightly fewer than a forecast of 2 percent growth earlier this month.

The Amarillo, Austin-Round Rock and Lubbock areas had the lowest unemployment in Texas last month at 3.2 percent, Workforce Commission officials said. The McAllen-Edinburg-Mission area had the state’s highest jobless rate in December at 8.2 percent.

The unemployment rate was 3.8 percent in Fort Worth-Arlington and 3.6 percent in Dallas-Plano-Irving.

The state’s education and health services industry recorded the largest private-industry employment gain in December with 7,300 jobs added. Leisure and hospitality employment grew by 3,900 jobs in December. Manufacturing employment expanded by 1,400 jobs, labor officials said.

Texas has added jobs in 20 of the past 21 months, according to the commission.

Staff writer Steve Kaskovich contributed to this report, which includes material from The Associated Press.