Texas adds over 34,000 jobs in May as recovery continues

This story will be updated.

Texas added 34,400 nonfarm jobs in May as the economic recovery continued to gain momentum, and the state’s unemployment rate ticked down to 6.5%, the Texas Workforce Commission reported on Friday.

The gains in May were more than double the hiring in April but were still far short of the 109,700 jobs added in March. So far this year, Texas has added over 195,000 jobs, with monthly changes varying widely.

The pace of hiring will have to accelerate for Texas to regain all the jobs lost during the pandemic. In May, Texas had 409,000 fewer jobs than in February 2020, before the pandemic arrived and later forced much of the economy to lock down.

Leisure and hospitality, which includes hard-hit restaurant and hotel businesses, added 14,200 jobs from April to May, the largest percentage gain among the big employment sectors. Professional and business services added 13,800 jobs last month, and manufacturing added 3,200.

One negative surprise was in construction, which lost 3,100 positions in May, according to the workforce commission. Residential real estate has been booming during the pandemic, and home prices have been climbing at record rates.

But there’s pressure on commercial real estate, in part because of concerns that more employees will continue to work from home, affecting demand for office space.

Texas also lost 2,500 jobs in the government sector last month.

Amarillo had the lowest unemployment rate in May, a non-seasonally adjusted rate of 3.9%, followed by Austin at 4.2%.

The Dallas-Plano-Irving metro are had a jobless rate of 5.2% in May, non-seasonally adjusted. That was a decline of half a percentage point from April.

Fort Worth-Arlington’s unemployment rate was 5.4% in May and also declined by half a percentage point.

The May unemployment rate was 9.7% in McAllen, 9.6% in Beaumont and 9.1% in Odessa, the workforce commission reported.

Mining and logging, which includes the oil and gas business, added 1,600 jobs statewide last month.