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Longview employment level reaches new record

By Mike Elswick
Nov. 16, 2012 at 10 p.m.

The Longview metro area continued to add jobs in October triggering a drop in the area unemployment rate.

Texas Workforce Commission on Friday reported a three-county area around Longview had 109,100 people employed in October, up by about 2,500 from October 2011. A year ago, employers in Gregg, Rusk and Upshur counties tallied 106,600 workers on payrolls.

The unemployment rate was 5.6 percent in October for the Longview Metropolitan Statistical Area. That was down from 5.7 percent in September and from 6.7 percent a year ago, state officials reported.

Across the state, the unemployment rate was 6.3 percent in October, while the seasonally adjusted rate was 6.6 percent.

Longview Chamber of Commerce President Kelly Hall said she expects the employment picture to improve for the holidays and seasonal hiring.

"I am glad that our market is continuing to experience a positive trend with the unemployment numbers remaining under 6 percent," Hall said. "Hiring remains strong - especially for seasonal jobs."

The Longview metro area's October unemployment rate was the lowest it has been for that month since pre-recession 2008, according to TWC officials. The area posted a 4.3 percent unemployment rate in October 2008.

The bulk of the increase in jobs came in the mining, logging and construction sector, with 900 jobs in the past year for a 6.1 percent increase.

The Texas Workforce Commission said the three counties added about 400 jobs in the education and health services fields since October 2011, and about 300 positions in the leisure and hospitality arena.

For the state, October marked the second straight month of decline, according to the agency.

"Private sector employers in Texas continue to drive our state's economic growth," said Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Andres Alcantar, noting that the state added 269,000 private sector jobs over the past year for an annual growth rate of 3 percent.

The Austin-based commission said employers across Texas added 36,600 nonfarm jobs in October, for a total of 277,400 jobs added during the year.

During the past year, 10 of 11 major industries in Texas have shown positive growth, and six of those industries displayed monthly gains in October, the commission said.

Education and health services grew more than any other industry this past month, adding 13,700 jobs for the largest monthly gain in the series' history. For the year, the industry has added more than 43,000 jobs and it's one of four industries in Texas showing an annual growth rate of 3 percent or higher.

Leisure and hospitality employment expanded by 8,700 positions in October. That industry has added 51,800 jobs over the past year, more than any other, according to the commission.

The Midland area had the lowest October unemployment rate in Texas at 3.3 percent; the Odessa area was second at 3.9 percent, and the Amarillo area third at 4.3 percent. In East Texas, the Tyler area posted an unemployment rate of 6.5 percent.



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