2010 was a better year for employment in Texas than 2009 was.
Texas employers expanded payrolls by 20,000 jobs in December, the third straight month the state has gained jobs, according to data released Friday by the Texas Workforce Commission.
The state gained in most major employment sectors, led by construction, with 8,700 jobs.
“It’s a very positive picture on job growth,” said Mine Yucel, an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
The state unemployment rate edged up to 8.3 percent from 8.2 percent in November and 8.1 percent in October. But even that may be a sign of recovery, Yucel said.
To be counted as unemployed, a person without a job must be seeking work. As employers add jobs, some people who had given up looking for work are apt to start trying to find a job again.
“It means people are seeing more jobs out there, and they’re coming back into the labor market,” Yucel said, referring to the rise in the unemployment rate. “As the economy grows, we expect that rate to come down.”
During 2010 as a whole, Texas payrolls expanded by 230,800 jobs after shrinking by more than 350,000 in 2009.
“The monthly growth was strong in December, and the year-over-year growth is representative of a solid overall recovery in the Texas job market,” said Waco economist Ray Perryman.
That’s good, and I’m delighted for everyone who found a job this past year. But I wonder, is all this optimism truly warranted at a time when the Legislature is working on a budget outline that might result in 100,000 teacher layoffs, which would be on top of county and city layoffs? Sure, maybe these things won’t happen – maybe the Lege will come to its senses and use the Rainy Day Fund to blunt some of the impact of the shortfall, thus limiting teacher firings to the 10,000 range or so – but how can you not even discuss the possibility when assessing the outlook for 2011? That just doesn’t seem right to me