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Houston’s Low Unemployment Rate Masks Feeble Job Growth

The February numbers show job gains in education and health care barely offset losses in energy and manufacturing.



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The Houston metro area added 10,100 jobs in February, according to the latest data from the Texas Workforce Commission. Most of the gains were in health care, education, and leisure and hospitality.

Patrick Jankowski, senior vice president of research at the Greater Houston Partnership, says that if it weren't for those three sectors, the region would have seen no growth at all.

"The energy industry continues to lose jobs. Manufacturing continues to lose jobs. Retail has started losing jobs again,” Jankowski says. “I mean, this is just an extremely weak jobs report."

The region's unemployment rate edged down to 4.7 percent, half a percentage point below the national average 5.2 percent.

"I suspect the unemployment rate would be higher if there were more people actually who were unemployed who declared themselves as unemployed," Jankowski says.

He went on to say: "What you likely have are people who've decided that they're not going to look for work, or they're going to take retirement, or they're going to sit on the sidelines for a while until the economy improves."

The U.S. Census Bureau released figures Thursday showing Greater Houston added 159,083 residents between July 2014 and July 2015.

Going forward, Jankowski says the region's slowing economy will draw fewer people. He expects that will hurt job growth in housing and health care, among other sectors.

Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew Schneider is the senior reporter for politics and government at Houston Public Media, NPR's affiliate station in Houston, Texas. In this capacity, he heads the station's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments...

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