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Unemployment falls locally, reaches historic lows statewide

November 17, 2018

Twenty-six-year-old Jose Gallegos is happy enough to have a job at a call center, but with background working as a medical admissions clerk, he thinks he might be able to do better.

“I do have a lot of experience in clerical, administrative and stuff like that but it’s hard to find a job in those areas since there’s a lot of more qualified people,” he said as he worked on his resume Friday at the Workforce Solutions center in San Antonio. “But eventually something will come up.”

That break might come sooner than he thinks.

Texas’ jobless rate in October dipped to 3.7 percent from 3.8 percent in September — the lowest level since the state started tracking unemployment data in 1976.

“We’re at a new place that we haven’t had before, which are these historically tight labor markets, said Keith Phillips, assistant vice president and senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. “The U.S. is at historically tight labor markets, too, so it’s getting harder to draw workers into Texas when things are so good outside.”

Beaumont-Port Arthur’s unemployment rate also continued to fall, hitting 5.2 percent in October, compared to 6.6 percent a year ago and 5.9 percent in September, according to the official Texas Workforce Commission jobs report released Friday.

The number of employed people in Beaumont-Port Arthur also rose, despite a drop last month.

Beaumont Mayor Becky Ames said previously she anticipates continuing to see the city’s unemployment rate drop with the opening of the Northwest Parkway, which will allow for more commercial expansion.

The Workforce Commission said state employers added 32,300 workers to their payroll, marking the 28th consecutive month of job growth.

The national unemployment rate also was 3.7 percent, holding steady from September.

For Texas, the overall growth rate was 3.1 percent, with goods-producing industries growing at a brisk 6.6 percent.

Employers in the trade, transportation and utilities sector led the hiring trend with 8,900 positions added over the month. Other strong sectors included leisure and hospitality with 8,700 jobs, followed by education and health services with 5,100 new jobs.

Mining and logging, which takes in oil and gas jobs, added 4,300 workers; the construction industry grew by 1,500 positions.

According to the non-seasonally-adjusted state data, the Midland metropolitan statistical area had the lowest unemployment rate of 2.1 percent. The Houston metro area came in at 3.8 percent, down from 4.1 percent last month and 4.4 percent in October 2017.

Kaitlin Bain in Beaumont contributed to this report.

lbrezosky@express-news.net

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