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Texas' unemployment rate rises despite gain in jobs

Excerpt

The following is from the December 18, 2010, edition of The Dallas Morning News. Michael Davis, an economics professor in SMU's Cox School of Business, provided expertise for this story.

December 20, 2010

By BRENDAN CASE
The Dallas Morning News

Texas employers expanded payrolls by 19,100 jobs in November, but the state unemployment rate still inched higher, the Texas Workforce Commission said Friday.

The jobs gain was the second monthly increase after a string of job losses this summer. But it was well below the nearly 60,000 jobs the state added in October, according to revised figures released Friday.

The November increase in payroll employment included a net gain of 11,500 nongovernment jobs. Private-sector employers have added jobs each month this year.

 "Overall, it's a good report," said Eugenio Aleman, an economist who tracks the Texas economy at Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, N.C. "Our expectation is that Texas job growth is going to continue in December and into January and February. It's not going to be strong, but it is going to be sustainable."

The state unemployment rate rose to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent in October, but it remains well below the national average of 9.8 percent.

Moreover, the November uptick may be a sign that job prospects are improving enough that people who had given up looking for work are now starting job searches, Aleman said.

People who are not actively looking for work are not counted as unemployed.

Still, at 8.2 percent, the unemployment rate is exactly where it was a year ago – reflecting the subdued pace of recovery. The jobless rate hit 8.3 percent earlier this year.

  "We have to be really concerned," said Mike Davis, an economist at Southern Methodist University's Cox School of Business.

"If people don't have jobs, they're going to be miserable, and that will greatly slow the rate of recovery," he said. "Even if they do have jobs but they see that their neighbors don't have jobs, they're going to be very cautious about spending."

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