The unemployment rate in the three-county Longview Metropolitan Statistical Area increased in July to 4% while it held steady statewide at 3.4%, the Texas Workforce Commission reported Friday.

The increase was the second month in a row for Gregg, Rusk and Upshur counties. The three-county area hit a record low of 3.1% in May and posted 3.8% in June, the workforce commission said.

The number of unemployed people grew to 3,900 in July from 3,000 in May and 3,600 in June, according to the workforce commission.

July’s rate became the highest since 4.1% in February but was still lower than the 4.3% rate in July 2018.

Two East Texas officials said they consider the increase in July to be a fluctuation.

“I think those little fluctuations will happen,” Longview Mayor Andy Mack said. “We are steady, and we are doing good. It shows a very strong economy still.”

Robert Johnson, executive director of Gladewater Economic Development Corp., said in a statement the national unemployment rate also increased from 3.8% in June to 4% in July.

“While it is normal for these numbers to fluctuate, we need to watch and ascertain if this is simply a normal fluctuation or if it is a slowdown in the expansion that we have seen,” Johnson said.

He said GEDCO “continues to work vigilantly to provide skills development and employment opportunities” within Gladewater and regionally.

The Texas economy added 35,200 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs in July and 323,300 jobs over the year, the workforce commission said.

The leisure and hospitality industry led job growth statewide by adding 8,300 jobs in July, followed by 6,300 jobs in the construction industry and 6,100 jobs in education and health services, the workforce commission reported.

The Midland MSA recorded the lowest unemployment among Texas MSAs in July with a nonseasonally adjusted rate of 2.2% while Beaumont-Port Arthur had the highest rate at 6%, according to the workforce commission.