Jobless Rate in Texas at Historic Low With 3.4%

July 22nd, 2019

Texas’ unemployment rate fell to a new record low in June as a strong national economy, robust job gains and slowdown in population growth continue to tighten the local labor market to an unprecedented level.

The unemployment rate slipped to 3.4 percent last month from 3.5 percent in May, the Texas Workforce Commission reported Friday. Nationally, unemployment averaged 3.7 percent in June.

The state added 45,000 jobs in June and more than 315,000 over the past year.

Houston’s labor market also tightened last month. Employers in the region have added jobs for 16 consecutive months, and the unemployment rate was 3.8 percent in June, down from 4.6 percent in June 2018. The region added 10,400 jobs from May and more than 80,000 over past year.

Jobs in both Houston and Texas are growing at a significantly faster pace than the nation as whole. Employment in Houston grew 2.7 percent over the year, compared with 2.5 percent in Texas and 1.5 percent nationally.

“Employment growth has been consistently stronger here,” Pia Orrenius, a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, said earlier this week. “We have standout performance in our region of the economy.”

Houston keeps hiring

Houston’s manufacturing sector, one of the largest and most important industries to the region, had a particularly strong month of hiring despite signs of slowing in recent months as tariffs bite and a strong dollar, which raises prices in foreign market, affects exports. The sector added 11,000 jobs in June from the same month in 2018, the largest year-over-year job growth in June for the sector since 2011. In particular, petroleum and coal products manufacturing jobs, which mostly includes refineries, grew 13 percent from June of last year.

The oil and gas sector also had healthy employment gains despite its own slowdown. As the rig count, an indication of oil and gas production, continues to decline each month, and oil prices, which settled at at $55.30 a barrel on Thursday, struggle to gain momentum, economists and Wall Street have sounded the alarms for oil markets due to the ongoing U.S.-China trade war and retreating global economic growth that has cut the gains of crude consumption.

The Houston region added 2,000 jobs in oil and gas extraction from the same month last year. Since February, year-over-year job growth in the industry has been positive for the first time since the oil bust.

“It was time for it to stop being the laggard (in job growth),” said Parker Harvey, an economist at Workforce Solutions, a workforce development organization. “It’s taken almost five years. Companies needed to figure out how to make those lower oil prices work, so we’re finally seeing oil and gas contribute.”