The Texas job market softened in March, according to two reports released Friday, but the state’s unemployment rate remained well below the national average at 4.3 percent.
The Texas Workforce Commission reported that Texas lost jobs in March for the first time in a year, with the state’s jobless rate holding steady at 4.3 percent.
Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said Texas added just 500 jobs in March, and revised up its February job growth figure to 7,900 jobs.
Incorporating the new data, the Fed raised its estimate for state job growth for 2016 to 1 percent, or 116,200 jobs, from its previous forecast of 0.7 percent.
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“Despite close to zero job growth in March, recent changes in leading indicators suggest that Texas job growth will improve in the months ahead,” said Keith R. Phillips, assistant vice president and senior economist at the Dallas Fed. “Job growth remains positive along the I-35 corridor of Dallas, Austin and San Antonio while it was negative in Houston.”
The Workforce Commission said nonfarm jobs decreased by 12,000 for the month, with declines in both goods-producing and service industries, after 11 straight months of gains. The biggest declines came in mining and logging, which includes the oil and gas industry, down 7,500, and professional and business services, off 6,000. Government showed the biggest gain, up 3,100.
Despite the decline, the workforce commission said Texas has added about 185,000 jobs in the past year and continues to have an unemployment rate well below the national rate of 5.0 percent.
“Texas’ economic growth over the year is due to the resilience of our employers who have added 152,300 private-sector jobs over the past year,” Texas Workforce Commissioner Ruth R. Hughs said in a statement. “Texas employers continue to be leaders in job creation.”
The unemployment rate in the Metroplex, which is not seasonally adjusted, moved up. In Fort Worth-Arlington, the jobless rate moved up to 4.0 percent from 3.8 percent in February, and in Dallas-Plano-Irving the rate was 3.7 percent, up from 3.6 percent.
Amarillo had the lowest unemployment statewide in March at 3.0 percent. The McAllen-Edinburg-Mission area had the highest jobless rate in Texas at 7.6 percent.