AUSTIN – Texas’ unemployment rate increased to 5.6 percent in October, up half a percentage point from the previous month because of Hurricane Ike and national economic trends, the Texas Workforce Commission said Friday.

“While Texas still has nearly a one percent lower unemployment rate than the rate of the nation, I would expect unemployment rates in Texas to continue to track the national trend upward in the months ahead,” commission chairman Tom Pauken said.

The state had a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 5.1 percent in September and 4.3 percent in October 2007.

Nearly half of the increase in the number of unemployed reported statewide for October came in the Houston and Beaumont metropolitan areas, regions hit hard by Hurricane Ike.

Beaumont had the highest unemployment rate for the month at 8.2 percent. Midland had the state’s lowest rate at 3.1 percent, followed by Odessa at 3.7 percent and Amarillo and Lubbock, both with 3.9 percent. The metropolitan area rates are not seasonally adjusted.

The professional and business services sector grew by 12,200 jobs in October. Education and health services grew by 3,700 jobs; trade, transportation and utilities increased by 2,700 jobs; and natural resources and mining added 1,600 jobs, according to the commission.

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