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Texas leads the nation in jobs in February despite efforts to temper inflation

Texas added more than 58,000 positions in February, leading the nation in jobs added last month. It marks two years of uninterrupted monthly job growth in Texas, said the Texas Workforce Commission on Friday.

While the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate ticked up by 0.1 percentage points to 4%, the labor force increased by 64,800 people, marking the largest monthly increase since September 2020.

“The past 24 months of uninterrupted job growth show the strength of the Texas economy and ongoing economic opportunities for Texans,” said TWC Chairman Bryan Daniel.

Warnings of a slowdown in job growth have echoed for months, Dallas Federal Reserve economist Pia Orrenius said, but the Texas labor market continues to outperform expectations even with rising interest rates. A concern of the Fed is that without any slowing, it’s not clear how inflation will be addressed, Orrenius said.

“It’s been very surprising strength despite the monetary policy tightening,” Orrenius said.

The Midland area recorded the lowest unemployment rate among Texas metros, with a not seasonally adjusted rate of 3% in February, followed by Amarillo at 3.5% and Austin at 3.7%. Dallas-Forth Worth’s unemployment recorded at 4.1%.

Professional and business services led job growth in February with more than 30,000 positions added, followed by private education and health services, which grew by 12,500 jobs. Texas overall reached more than 13.8 million nonfarm jobs.

“The extraordinary job growth we’ve seen over the past year shows Texas is booming and continues to be the best state for business,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Aaron Demerson.

Growth in the energy and manufacturing industries saw a decline from January, with a slowdown in hiring. In February, the goods sector employed 4,500 people less than in January. In the same time frame, manufacturing employed 5,400 people less, according to the TWC.

Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association, a trade organization representing 3,000 independent oil and natural gas producers across the state, reported Friday that oil and gas production is forecasted to continue to climb in the coming months. TIPRO president Ed Longanecker said that while the group is pleased to see continued demand for workers throughout the Texas oil and natural gas sector, they’re keeping an eye on lawmakers.

“The Texas legislature and U.S. Congress are currently evaluating policies that can greatly hinder or support this vital industry, our nation’s energy security and economy,” Longanecker said.

The energy sector’s decrease is of concern to Orrenius, as oil and gas are a vital component of the state’s economic strength and one of the larger reasons that Texas’ economy outpaces the nation’s growth.

While applauding the state’s leadership in business, Gov. Greg Abbott said Texas cannot become complacent. Abbott pledged in a statement to continue to cut property taxes and invest in workforce development, infrastructure upgrades and strategic economic development tools.

“Texas is where the American dream lives, where businesses flourish and people prosper,” Abbott said. “I am proud that more Texans are working than ever before.”