The unemployment rate in the tri-county Longview Metropolitan Statistical Area hit 12.3% in April as the COVID-19 pandemic spread and was triple the pre-pandemic rate of 4.1% in February, the Texas Workforce Commission reported Friday.

The rate in Gregg, Upshur and Rusk counties climbed as the pandemic led state officials to close many businesses beginning midnight March 20 and hurt employment in the energy industry as oil prices collapsed.

The number of unemployed people in the three counties reached 11,000 in April, the commission reported. The rate of 5.7% in March reflected only a partial effect of the pandemic. The rate a year ago was 3.1%.

April saw major job losses with oilfield services giant Halliburton eliminating 233 jobs at its Kilgore facility and fracking company FTS International Services furloughing 59 employees in Longview.

This story will be updated.