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Texas unemployment declines to 7.1%

Excerpt

The following appeared in the March 30, 2012, edition of the Dallas Morning News. Economist Bernard Weinstein provided expertise for this story.

April 12, 2012

By Bill Bowen

The Texas economy continued its rapid rise in February, outpacing the national recovery at a clip that almost doubles that of the rest of the country.

 Texas employers added 27,900 nonfarm jobs in February, pushing the state’s unemployment rate to a seasonally adjusted 7.1 percent, down from 7.3 percent in January, according to figures released Friday by the Texas Workforce Commission.

It is the sixth straight month of unemployment rate declines in the Lone Star State. Unemployment stood at 8 percent in February 2011.

“Now that the economy appears to be on the mend, we see that employment growth in Texas is growing at a multiple of the national rate,” said Bernard Weinstein, economist at Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business.

 The rate for the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metropolitan area fell even steeper, to 7.1 percent from 7.4 percent in January, although the metro numbers are not seasonally adjusted and, therefore, more volatile.

Most of the growth was across the board and included improvement in the construction industry.

“Eight of the 11 major industries in Texas added jobs in February, indicating that many skill sets are in demand,” said TWC Commissioner for Labor Ronny Congleton.

Government was the largest contributor, with 12,800 jobs added in the month, mostly in local governments. Trade, transportation and utilities added 8,300 jobs and the education and health services and financial activities sectors combined to contribute 5,500. Perhaps the brightest spot was the construction industry, which added 4,500 jobs.

“Construction is picking up slowly,” Weinstein said, adding that residential construction remains weak. “There is a fair amount of commercial and infrastructure work going on.”...