The labor market just keeps growing, both in Texas and nationwide.
Texas added 48,600 nonfarm jobs in January, the most since October 2022 and the 16th consecutive month of record employment in the state, the Texas Workforce Commission said on Friday.
Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate ticked up to 3.9% from a revised rate of 3.8% in December. Unemployment statewide has remained below 4% since March 2022, an indication that the tight labor market persists. That represents a continuing challenge for many employers and an opportunity for many workers looking to improve their prospects.
Texas’ job numbers for January were released the same day as the national employment report for February, which also showed stellar growth continuing across the country.
The U.S. added 311,000 nonfarm jobs in February, lower than the 504,000 jobs added in January, but well ahead of the gains in February 2020 before the pandemic hit, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The national unemployment rate edged up to 3.6% in February and has shown little net movement since early 2022, the bureau said.
In Texas, January job growth was led by the leisure and hospitality sector and professional and business services. Each recorded more than 8,000 net hires for the month. Construction and manufacturing each added 5,900 jobs. And the Texas oil patch continued to expand with a net increase of 2,500 positions — the biggest one-month percentage gain.
“For the second consecutive month,” the workforce commission said, “every major industry had positive over-the-month employment growth.”
Even government, Texas’ slowest-growing job sector over the past 12 months, added 5,700 jobs in January.
Texas’ pace of job growth in January slightly surpassed the national rate, as it has through most of the pandemic recovery.
Nationwide job gains in February were stronger than expected, and stock market indexes fell in early trading, continuing a recent trend. The Federal Reserve has been ratcheting up interest rates in an effort to slow inflation, and the resilient job market is seen as a sign that several more interest hikes may be necessary.
“The labor market cools from blistering to just plain hot,” wrote Nancy Vanden Houten, lead U.S. economist for Oxford Economics. “The pace of job growth is still too rapid for the Fed’s liking and leaves the Fed on track to raise rates at each of the next three meetings.”
She added: There’s “a risk that more rate hikes come in the second half of the year.”
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