COLLEGE STATION (Real Estate Center) April 3, 2009 – The national recession has started to choke the Texas economy.

The U.S. economy lost more than four million jobs or 3.1 percent of its labor force from February 2008 to February 2009. Over the same period, the Texas economy lost 73,000 jobs or 0.7 percent of its labor force. The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose from 4.5 percent in February 2008 to 6.5 percent in February 2009. The U.S. seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose from 4.8 percent to 8.1 percent during the same period.

Despite recent decreases in oil prices, the Texas oil and natural gas industry has remained a bright spot in the state’s economy and continues to create jobs. The industry added 15,600 new jobs, a 7 percent growth rate from February 2008 to February 2009, ranking first among Texas industries. But the average number of active rotary rigs has substantially decreased from 890.4 in March 2008 to 484.2 in March 2009 according to Hughes Tool Co.

Eleven Texas metro areas experienced positive employment growth rates from February 2008 to February 2009 while 12 metro areas experienced net job losses. Petroplexes Odessa and Midland ranked first and second in job creation followed by Killeen–Temple–Fort Hood, Tyler, and College Station–Bryan.

The state’s actual unemployment rate in February 2009 was 6.6 percent. Midland had the lowest unemployment rate followed by Amarillo, Lubbock, College Station–Bryan and Abilene.