Texas employers added more jobs than any other state in May, and if that pace continues, economists say this year could be a record-setting one for the state.

Texas saw an increase of 56,400 jobs in May after adding 62,400 in April, the biggest monthly gains in four years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The April figure was revised down from an initial 64,100.

The state jobless rate dipped from 5.2 percent in April to 5.1 percent — well below the U.S. rate of 6.3 percent last month.

Locally, unemployment statistics are even stronger, with Gaines County boasting a 3.5 percent jobless rate in May, the most recent figures available. 

That’s a slight hop from the 3.1 percent rate posted in April. 

Of the 8,499 working age adults in Gaines County, 8,200 of them are employed. 

Only 299 currently are drawing unemployment benefits. 

Texas and the nation have seen stronger job growth for the last few months. 

That trend, combined with other improving statistics, such as consumer confidence and industrial production, show a strengthening economy and a rebound from a hiring slowdown caused by bad weather at the start of the year.

Texas is on pace to create the second-most jobs nationally of all time — about 500,000. California created about 600,000 jobs in 1978.”

For the 12 months through May, Texas gained 383,100 jobs — the biggest yearly gain in nearly 17 years and the most jobs nationwide. 

The energy industry has seen the most growth in that time, with employment up 7.4 percent.

Oil and gas still is a big part of the story with a spillover effect on construction.

In May, all 11 major industry groups saw job growth. 

Education and health services added the most jobs (12,400), followed by trade, transportation and utilities (11,800), leisure and hospitality (8,600) and government (8,000).

Improvement in Texas employment is mirroring national trends.

May employment increased in 36 states plus Washington, D.C., and decreased in 14 states. Over the last 12 months, employment grew in 48 states plus Washington, D.C., and decreased in two states.

Unemployment rates fell in 20 states last month, rose in 16 and were unchanged in 14 states.