AUSTIN -- Gaines County's unemployment rate remained unchanged from one month ago, as the 2014 calendar year picked right up where 2013 left off, according to the latest figures from the Texas Workforce Commission.


In the month of January 2014, Gaines County boasted a jobless rate of 3.9 percent, the same rate experienced in December 2013, while seeing increases in both the county's available labor force and employed persons.


The news comes as Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 5.7 percent in January, the lowest since November 2008, according to TWC figures release last week.


Texas' jobless rate was down from 6.0 percent in December 2013, and remained below the nation’s January unemployment rate of 6.6 percent.

Texas employers expanded their payrolls in January with the addition of 33,900 seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs, for a total of 322,400 jobs added over the year.


“The decline in our state’s unemployment rate and the addition of 33,900 jobs in January are positive signs, and I’m encouraged that the Texas economy has started the year on a strong note,” said Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Chairman Andres Alcantar. “All 11 major industries added jobs over the year, highlighting the favorable economic conditions in Texas for employers and job seekers.”


Locally in Gaines County, 8,170 people made up the local labor force in the month of January, according to TWC figures, which was up from 8,076 reported in December 2013.


Gaines County, in January, had 7,851 people employed within the county's boundaries, which was up from 7,763 reported in December 2013. In addition, Gaines' unemployment total rose slightly from 313 people in December 2013 to 319 in January, according to TWC figures.


TWC State Numbers

Most major industries added jobs over the month. The Trade, Transportation, and Utilities industry added the greatest number of jobs in January, expanding by 7,600 positions. This industry also reported the highest number of jobs added over the last 12 months, 77,300.


“The continued strong monthly job growth among varied industries like Education and Health Services and Trade, Transportation, and Utilities means opportunities for working Texans and their families,” said Commissioner Representing Employers Ronny Congleton. “I encourage job seekers to tap into the job-search tools available through Texas Workforce Solutions offices statewide.”


The Mining and Logging industry, which includes oil and gas related jobs, added 3,200 positions in January, for a total of 15,800 jobs over the year and an annual growth rate of 5.6 percent—the highest among the 11 major industries in Texas.


“We’ve seen 293,900 private-sector jobs added here over the last year, for a 3.2 percent annual growth rate,” said Commissioner Representing Employers Hope Andrade. “I’m excited to see private employers in Texas continuing to grow their investments here.”


The Midland Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) had the lowest January unemployment rate in the state at 2.9 percent. The Odessa MSA had the second lowest at 3.6 percent and the Amarillo MSA was third at 4.1 percent (not seasonally adjusted).


National Labor Numbers

Last week, the U.S. Dept. of Labor indicated U.S. employers added 175,000 jobs, far more than the two previous months, according to a recent Associated Press article.


Modest but steady hiring has become a hallmark of a nearly 5-year-old economic rebound that remains sluggish yet strikingly resilient. The economy has been slowed by political gridlock, harsh weather and global crises. But those disruptions have not derailed growth.


Though the unemployment rate rose to 6.7 percent from a five-year low of 6.6 percent, it did so for an encouraging reason: More people began seeking work. The unemployment rate ticked up because most did not immediately find jobs.


Last Friday's report from the Labor Department suggested that a long-hoped-for acceleration in growth and hiring still has not occurred. But that might not be all bad: Households have pared debt and avoided the excessive spending and borrowing that have undercut explosive economies in the past.


Total U.S. credit card debt is still 14 percent lower than before the Great Recession began in December 2007, according to the Federal Reserve.


And moderate but consistent hiring still means more people have money to spend.


"A modest expansion may very well last longer than one that bursts out with big increases in spending and debt," said David Berson, an economist at Nationwide Financial.