Unemployment rate holds at 5 percent in September

AUSTIN (AP) – The statewide unemployment held steady at 5 percent in September, the Texas Workforce Commission reported last Thursday.

The commission said there were 26,400 fewer jobs in the month. But that number was offset by Texas employers adding 38,700 jobs, mostly in government and education.

The jobless rate, adjusted for seasonal hiring practices, reflected the highest employment rate ever recorded in Texas in September, the commission said.

But the number of unemployment claims have exceeded 100,000 for the first nine months of 2001, a level the state has not seen since 1992.

The commission also warned that effects of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and widespread layoffs would not be measured until next month.

Earlier this month, the commission told employers to expect unemployment taxes to increase because of the slowing economy and rising claims.

Over the last 12 months Texas had an increase in both the number of claims filed for unemployment insurance benefits and in the average benefit payment amount.

For the period ending Sept. 30, there were 862,221 new claims for unemployment benefits compared to 685,478 for the same period a year ago – an increase of 176,743 claims.

The average weekly benefit payment amount was $227.90, compared to $218.21 per week a year ago, an increase of $9.69 a week per claim.

The September unemployment report showed that, before adjusting for seasonal hiring trends, unemployment held at 5.1 percent, the same as in August. Most economists believe that seasonally adjusted numbers give a more accurate picture of the job market.

Local job markets were mixed. Unemployment rose slightly in Austin, Dallas and in the Rio Grande Valley but fell in Amarillo, Galveston and San Antonio.

Manufacturing employment fell by 2,400 jobs, the seventh consecutive loss. Government jobs increased by 70,400 jobs in September. Construction lost 5,200 jobs.

Following are the September unemployment rates for Texas metropolitan areas, with August numbers in parentheses. The figures are not seasonally adjusted, with a statewide average of 5.1 percent:

Abilene 3.3 (3.9)
Amarillo 2.9 (3.1)
Austin-San Marcos 4.6 (4.5)
Beaumont-Port Arthur 8.3 (8.9)
Brazoria 6.1 (6.4)
Brownsville-Harlingen 9.3 (8.8)
Bryan-College Station 1.7 (1.9)
Corpus Christi 5.7 (5.8)
Dallas 5.4 (5.3)
El Paso 8.7 (8.3)
Fort Worth-Arlington 4.4 (4.4)
Galveston-Texas City 6.3 (6.8)
Houston 4.5 (4.6)
Killeen-Temple 4.4 (4.4)
Laredo 6.5 (6.5)
Longview-Marshall 5.4 (5.5)
Lubbock 2.4 (2.7)
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission 12.4 (12.9)
Odessa-Midland 4.1 (4.4)
San Angelo 2.9 (2.9)
San Antonio 4.1 (4.2)
Sherman-Denison 6.3 (6.4)
Texarkana 4.2 (4.4)
Tyler 4.3 (4.3)
Victoria 4.4 (4.4)
Waco 3.8 (4.0)
Wichita Falls 3.6 (3.7)