March 22, 2012
By Bill Bowen
Texas businesses kicked up hiring in January, adding workers at double their recent pace and knocking the state’s unemployment rate to its lowest since April 2009.
The job gains lowered unemployment to 7.3 percent, down from a revised 7.4 percent in December. The rate, adjusted to account for seasonal variances, is down from 8.1 percent in January 2011.
Employers in most major industries were hiring, even as more people were coming into the labor force, a sign that some discouraged workers are returning to the market.
Led by business and professional services, Texas nonfarm employers added 67,200 workers in January, more than doubling the 31,548 jobs created in December and the 33,302 added in November, according to revised figures released by the Texas Workforce Commission. Texas added 258,200 jobs in the past 12 months, according to the revised TWC figures.
“Overall, this is good news,” said Bernard Weinstein, an economist at Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business and a longtime observer of the Texas economy. “Texas is usually late going into a recession and early coming out, and that’s what it looks like this time.”...