Texas unemployment rate dropped as job growth picked up in June

More than 3,000 people turned out for a Lockheed Martin job fair in downtown Fort Worth on Tuesday.
More than 3,000 people turned out for a Lockheed Martin job fair in downtown Fort Worth on Tuesday.

Job growth picked up in June in Texas, according to two reports out Friday, indicating that the state economy is picking up after a slump spurred by the drop in oil prices.

The Texas Workforce Commission reported that the state’s unemployment rate declined to 4.6 percent, the second straight monthly decline, as the state economy added 40,200 jobs. Nationwide, the unemployment rate was 4.4 percent.

Separately, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said the state added 36,100 jobs, lifting job growth for the first six months of the year to 2.7 percent after rising just 1.2 percent in 2016.

“Strong job growth in June and a rebound in the (Texas) leading index pushed the job forecast to its highest level this year,” said Keith R. Phillips, assistant vice president and senior economist at the Dallas Fed. “Growth in the second quarter was 2.8 percent, the fastest we have seen since the end of 2014.”

The Workforce Commission said education and health services showed the largest private-sector growth over the month with 13,100 jobs added, officials said. Manufacturing had its largest year-over-year employment gain since July 2012 with 4,600 jobs added in June. Mining and logging employment expanded by 4,400 jobs, according to the commission.

“Texas employers added 319,300 jobs over the past year, with 10 out of 11 industries adding jobs in the dynamic Texas economy,” said Andres Alcantar, TWC chairman.

In Fort Worth-Arlington, the unemployment rate jumped to 4.1 percent from 3.8 percent in May. Metro rates are not seasonally adjusted. Indicative of area job growth and the supply of willing workers, some 3,000 people turned out Tuesday for a Lockheed Martin job fair in downtown Fort Worth.

Amarillo and the Austin-Round Rock area had the lowest unemployment in Texas last month at 3.4 percent. The McAllen-Edinburg-Mission area had the highest jobless rate for Texas during June at 8.3 percent. The Dallas-Fort Worth region stood at 4 percent.

The Dallas Fed said the energy sector continued to be a drag on the state’s leading index, although permits for drilling new wells increased in June after declining for two consecutive months.

Nationwide, the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. decreased by two this week to 950, Baker Hughes reported on Friday. Oklahoma and Texas each declined by three.

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