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April 2nd, 2012
Texas economy gains jobs in February


The Texas economy continued its upward climb in February, gaining 27,900 jobs while the unemployment rate dropped slightly, from 7.3 percent to 7.1 percent.

“Texas’ job growth over the past year points to a steady and sustained expansion of our state’s economy,” Tom Pauken, chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission, said in a prepared statement. He also highlighted Texas’ positive job growth over the last 22 months.

Check out this Tribune interactive to see which Texas industries rebounded from the Great Recession in 2011.

SEE ALSO: San Marcos unemployment at 5.4 percent, Kyle at 4.8

The nation as a whole is in the midst of recession-recovery, but Texas’ unemployment rate has consistently remained lower than the national unemployment rate, currently at 8.3 percent.

The biggest surprise from February’s employment stats is the change in government jobs, which grew by 12,800 between January and February. After a year of budget cuts and consistent reductions, the total number of government jobs remains 57,900 fewer than in February last year.

Construction had the greatest percentage growth over the month, at 0.8 percent. Mining and logging, which includes the booming oil and gas industry, had the greatest growth over the last year, at 16.4 percent.

Professional and business services, which gained jobs last month, lost 3,000 jobs in February. The industry still had 57,700 more jobs than at this point last year.

In other economic news, Gov. Rick Perry entered the national conversation on lean, finely textured beef — or “pink slime,” as it’s called by opponents of the ammonium-treated beef byproduct — by announcing his support of the product this week. In a speech on Thursday at such a beef facility in Nebraska, Perry said “false rumors” about the product could threaten Texas’ $7.5 billion cattle industry.

“We already have a couple hundred Texas workers sitting idle because of this situation, each of them suddenly unsure of their future through no fault of their own or their employer’s,” he said, and later added, “Let’s call this product what it is and make ‘pink slime’ a term of the past.”

Multiple national business chains with ties to Texas, including Wal-Mart and Kroger, announced they were removing the product from their shelves in response to national disgust over the beef byproduct garnered by “The Naked Chef,” Jamie Oliver. Oliver hosted a TV special highlighting how the product is made and its potentially negative effects on health.

BECCA AARONSON reports for The Texas Tribune where this story was originally published. It is reprinted here through a news partnership between the Tribune and the San Marcos Mercury.

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